A Southampton Village resident said she is concerned that plans to expand the Peconic Land Trust’s office on the corner of Hampton and Old Town roads will bring more traffic to a primarily residential area.
The trust’s plan is to relocate and enlarge the two-story office building at the front of the property on Hampton Road. The building would be moved to a different part of the property, and a two-story addition, designed by Southampton architect John David Rose, would be constructed, with the two structures connected by a breezeway. The organization also wants to remove a smaller house on the back corner of the property, which is just under two-thirds of an acre, and is zoned for business and single-family residential use.
Additionally, the Peconic Land Trust is seeking to install more off-street parking in place of the removed building, and in doing so has asked to extend the business zoning boundary line by 50 feet so that the whole property falls under one zone. There are currently 15 spots in the lot, and the trust is looking to increase that number to 28. To carry out its plans, the trust needs several variances from the village’s Zoning Board of Appeals.
At a ZBA meeting last Thursday, November 20, Willa Bernstein, who lives on Old Town Road, said she was worried that expanding the office and the parking lot would bring in more employees, in turn increasing traffic on Old Town Road. She said she was mainly concerned about noise from cars and the fact that her daughter often rides her bike down the street.
Ms. Bernstein told the board that the Peconic Land Trust is “supposed to protect the nature of the community and the land,” adding that when she moved to the village six months ago, she didn’t realize she was purchasing a home near an office building. “What we saw was a shingled, old-fashioned building. I don’t really understand why there’s a necessity to put offices in the middle of a residential district.”
The board pointed out to Ms. Bernstein that although she had a right to be concerned about cars going in and out of the parking lot, which would have its entrance and exit on Old Town Road, the office is in the Hampton Road business district. And while board members did not offer comments about the application itself, they told Ms. Bernstein that there will be more opportunities to weigh in at future hearings and perhaps propose the idea of natural buffers along the property line to limit noise.
Gilbert Flanagan, the Southampton-based attorney representing the trust, said that the expansion is necessary because some Peconic Land Trust employees work in the basement of the Cook Maran office building next door. “It will enable all of the people to work in the same building on the same property,” he said of the proposed project. “The key is to consolidate the function of the Peconic Land Trust, and to preserve the existing office building. This is its home base.”
Pam Greene, vice president of the Peconic Land Trust, said she did not envision traffic to be an issue because the employees already travel to work at the adjacent property. “We’re not increasing our employees. So technically it’s the same amount of cars coming and going,” she said.
Ms. Greene said the trust’s application is expected to be on the agenda for the next ZBA meeting, which is slated for December 18.