Confusion Halts Southampton Town Planning Board Hearing On East Quogue Medical Office Plan

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It appears that the curb cut mystery has been solved.

On Tuesday, five days after the Southampton Town Planning Board pushed back a hearing on a long-proposed medical office complex in East Quogue, the attorney representing the applicant said he found the old, finalized site plan for the development, which he intends to resubmit to the town this week.

That plan, according to Jim Hulme, the Westhampton Beach attorney representing Hampton Valley Associates LLC, accurately shows the entrance to the proposed three-building complex—which would feature both medical offices and five second-floor apartments—on Weesuck Avenue and not Montauk Highway, as had been previously agreed to at the recommendation of Suffolk County officials and, apparently, finalized by Planning Board members in March 2008.

That approval, however, expired earlier this year, forcing the applicant to seek Planning Board approval a second time before moving forward with the proposed 10,000-square foot complex that would sit on 1.3 acres of undeveloped land that sits on the southwest corner of the intersection of Weesuck Avenue and Montauk Highway.

But at a Planning Board meeting on Thursday, April 9, town officials, Mr. Hulme and interested hamlet residents were actually reviewing an outdated plan that still showed the only entrance and exit to the complex being located on Montauk Highway. The error was actually pointed out by Al Algieri, president of the East Quogue Civic Association, and quickly followed by a motion by the Planning Board to roll over the hearing on the application until their meeting on Thursday, May 14.

“We’re proposing exactly what was approved last time, which I now know includes the entrance on Weesuck Avenue,” said Mr. Hulme, a Westhampton Beach-based attorney who was recently hired by the applicant.

Hampton Valley Associates still intends to lease about 7,100 square feet of space for medical offices and dedicate about 3,000 square feet of space for the five 600-square-foot apartments.

Carl Benincasa, an assistant town attorney who works with the town’s planning officials, acknowledged Tuesday that the wrong site plan was displayed during last week’s hearing, causing some confusion among those in attendance. He also said the hearing can proceed once Mr. Hulme submits a copy of the plans that were finalized back in 2008.

Even though the applicant intends to site the entrance and exit along Weesuck Avenue, some residents in attendance last week said they are still unhappy with the application. Several stated that the intersection of Weesuck Avenue and Montauk Highway is already dangerous, pointing to a sharp bend along Montauk Highway that could block the views of drivers.

“The buffer has been a godsend,” said Darlene Sack, who lives on Weesuck Avenue, referring to the corner property. “We are a quiet community. Any new influx of traffic will take away from that. It’s going to be a major headache.”

Marissa Bridge, another Weesuck Avenue homeowner, has been working with her neighbors to lobby the town’s Community Preservation Fund to purchase the property.

“We want this property to be taken off the market,” Ms. Bridge told the Planning Board. “I know you can’t do that, but if you’d consider denying the permit, we would appreciate it.”

Baykeeper Plan Gets
Nod From Neighbor

Only one person addressed the Southampton Town Planning Board last week regarding a plan to covert a Hampton Bays house into office space for the Peconic Baykeeper organization, a not-for-profit water quality advocacy group that was bequeathed the property in question when its former owner, Haris “Harry” Wehrmann, died in 2013.

And that individual was all for the change of zoning.

“I know Mr. Wehrmann would be very pleased with this,” said Scott Beaumont of Hampton Bays, a friend and former neighbor of Mr. Wehrmann.

Mr. Beaumont also asked if the group would consider eventually placing a memorial plaque on the property.

The 2.3-acre property, once known as “Tranquility,” sits on Upper Red Creek Road in Hampton Bays, just a stone’s throw away from both Red Creek and Wehrmann ponds.

The organization is hoping to move into the home and out of its rented space on Old Country Road in Quogue as soon as the Planning Board approves the change of use, which could happen as early as May or June. There are no plans to change the house or landscaping, and representatives of the organization have said they have no intentions of doing so in the future.

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