The Southampton Town Zoning Board of Appeals approved a variance last week that will pave the way for a developer to demolish a former nightclub in Westhampton and build 14 apartments in its place.
The board unanimously approved the decision last Thursday, October 3, stating that there appeared to be no opposition to changing the zoning of the 1.7-acre property from one nonconforming use to another. Board members said the change would also benefit the neighborhood; nightclubs are generally considered to be a nuisance by town officials, and the town code encourages their elimination when possible.
The property, located at 19 Montauk Highway and owned by Citron 19 Montauk LLC, in the care of Lawrence Citarelli of Lawrence III Corp. in Westhampton Beach, is currently zoned half-acre residential. That zoning permits only single-family homes on lots of a half acre or larger, plus parks, plant nurseries and government buildings.
The lot currently includes the fenced-off nightclub building, which formerly operated as the Tantra Lounge, as well as a vacant single-family home and a detached garage that have fallen into disrepair. All three would be demolished to make way for three two-story apartment buildings with both one- and two-bedroom units.
Mr. Citarelli said the buildings would be designed and landscaped to resemble single-family homes. He also noted that the complex will have about 25 parking spaces, instead of the roughly 60 that currently exist.
A high chain-link fence currently shields the property from Montauk Highway.
Though the zoning board approved the apartment use, Mr. Citarelli explained that the Suffolk County Department of Health and the Southampton Town Planning Board still need to sign off on his plans, a process that could take more than a year.
“It’s the first step in what, hopefully, will be a great project for the community,” he said.
Community members who live near the property, a group that includes zoning board Chairman Herb Phillips, have expressed support for the project.