Southampton Village Business Owner Continues To Push For Parking Space Adjustment On Starbucks Application

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A Southampton Village business owner continues to dispute the number of parking spaces that a proposed Starbucks would be able to provide its customers.

Starbucks is slated to go into a vacant storefront at 29 Hampton Road, adjacent to 27 Hampton Salon. James Lefferts, one of the salon’s owners, has claimed that Starbucks Coffee Company is overstating the number of parking spaces it is entitled to in a 33-space private lot behind the store that it would share not only with the salon but with two other businesses, the Perfect Purse and Collette Annex.

The Planning Board, which is reviewing a site plan application for Starbucks, would require 24 spaces for the coffee shop alone. Those spaces are currently allotted in the company’s site plan application by using the shared parking lot.

Mr. Lefferts said his lease specifies that each business sharing the lot is permitted to use 25 percent of it, or 8.25 spaces each. He originally went to the Planning Board with his concerns last month, and he reiterated them at a public hearing on Monday. He is asking that Starbucks revise its application and change the number of parking spaces it will provide.

“Starbucks Coffee Company does not deserve leniency,” Mr. Lefferts wrote in a letter to Village Mayor Mark Epley last month. “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.”

At this point, the Planning Board has asked Mr. Lefferts to submit the lease showing the parking agreement. The board has previously said that there is not much that can be done to control how many spaces are used for Starbucks in the lot. Village requirements state that the number of parking spaces for any commercial use is determined by the size of a building and how many seats it has. The building where Starbucks would go in measures 1,180 square feet, and the proposal calls for 16 seats.

“The only potential impact [Mr. Lefferts’s argument] would have on an administrative board is if there is something in the written documents that would prevent Starbucks,” said Beau Robinson, the board’s attorney. “That building has been used for retail purposes since its inception, so it’s really [unnecessary] that this becomes a debate. Just because the tenancy has changed doesn’t mean the parking regulations have changed.”

John Bennett, the attorney representing the coffee company, said that because the parking requirements have been in place since 1981, they would overrule any agreement signed after that. 27 Hampton Salon has been in business since 2010.

“No matter what he submits, it wouldn’t make any difference,” Mr. Bennett said. “You can’t change the terms of that easement. His lease is irrelevant as it pertains to the use of parking. If his landlord tried to designate a certain amount of parking spaces for him, that’s a violation of the shared parking agreement.”

As of now, Starbucks has approval from the County Health Department to convert a dry space into a partial wet use, as well as approval from the Southampton Village Board of Historic Preservation and Architectural Review for signs and minor exterior alterations. Mr. Bennett said all it needs is the site plan approval from the Planning Board, followed by the issuance of a building permit, before construction can begin.

If all of the approvals are secured by the end of the year, Starbucks will be able to open by late winter or early spring, the attorney said.

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