Some business owners are unhappy about a proposed Starbucks in Southampton Village, telling a village regulatory board that the new coffee shop will cause major parking problems.
Starbucks is slated to go into a vacant storefront at 29 Hampton Road, adjacent to 27 Hampton Salon. One of the salon’s owners, James Lefferts, said he believes Starbucks customers and employees will take up too much of a private parking lot the new store will share with the salon, as well as with the Perfect Purse and Collette Annex.
The parking lot behind the four shops contains 33 spaces. Southampton Village, whose Planning Board is reviewing a site plan application for the Starbucks, would require 24 spaces for the Starbucks alone.
Mr. Lefferts said his lease specifies that each business is permitted to use 25 percent of the lot, or 8.25 spaces. He addressed the Planning Board at a public hearing on the coffee shop on Monday, October 6, stressing that on any given day, Citarella customers already take up most of the private lot, and that adding Starbucks to the mix will only make the situation worse.
In a phone interview this week, Perfect Purse owner Alan J. Stolz said he was concerned that free WiFi and the coffee shop’s reputation as a popular hangout will encourage many customers to leave their cars in the parking lot for hours at a time.
The Planning Board, however, said that Starbucks would be in compliance with parking requirements, which are determined by the size of a building and how many seats it has. The building measures 1,180 square feet, and the proposal calls for 16 seats.
As for the length of time people keep their cars in the lot, the board said that is something out if its control. “There’s no arbitrary way to say Starbucks is going to use more spaces than your store,” said Planning Board Chairman Roy Stevenson. “I own a store in the village. People use my lot all the time, and it drives me crazy, but there’s not much you can do about it.
“The goal of this board is not to encourage or prevent development,” Mr. Stevenson added. “It’s to determine whether applications meet the standards of the code that have been determined by the trustees of the village.”
Planning Board attorney Beau Robinson said he agreed with Mr. Stevenson’s statement, and he indicated that Mr. Lefferts should resolve the division of the private parking spaces with the landlord.
“There’s not a lot this board can do,” Mr. Robinson said. “The landlord on the Starbucks parcel has every right to what they’re doing,” he said. “This board is not the Planning Commission, which looks to the future and tries to resolve these issues of dealing with an application that’s basically within the legal confines of our law. It’s really a rather cut-and-dried application, as far as the approval is going to be.”
The Starbucks has already received approval from the Village Board of Historic Preservation and Architectural Review for signs and minor exterior alterations. It is currently awaiting approval from the County Health Department for a wet use permit.
The Planning Board will continue the hearing at its next public meeting on Monday, November 3.
“I think the addition of Starbucks to Hampton Road will be a major change, so I’d like to have as much time to study and analyze it until everybody has had their say,” Mr. Stevenson said.
In the meantime, Mr. Lefferts has continued to push for some kind of relief concerning the parking issue in the form of a letter to Village Mayor Mark Epley, who has been outspoken about his lack of support for the Starbucks. In the letter, Mr. Lefferts reiterated points he made to the Planning Board and wrote that he believes Starbucks should revise its application and change the number of parking spaces that it will provide.
“Starbucks Coffee Company does not deserve leniency,” Mr. Lefferts wrote. “Starbucks Coffee Company is not above the written law and/or code. Starbucks Coffee Company must follow the same rules and regulations that we all follow.”
Mr. Epley declined to comment on Mr. Lefferts’s letter until he speaks with Mr. Robinson about the issue.