Neighbors of the proposed Gateway project on Montauk Highway in Bridgehampton raised questions about its scale and proximity to their homes at the first public hearing on the project, which was held on Tuesday.
The Gateway proposal has been on and off the Southampton Town docket several times since 2003, but was brought back in the last two years at the request of the Town Board, whose members have said the project could offer several benefits to help revitalize downtown Bridgehampton.
On Tuesday, neighbors asked how visible the new buildings would be from their homes, and how much traffic would be generated by its construction—both points that Town Planning and Development Administrator Kyle Collins said are being studied and taken into account with the plans.
“The Town Comprehensive Plan identifies this site as one of the prime features of the gateway into Bridgehampton, and [it] has currently not been developed, except for the Carvel site,” Mr. Collins said on Tuesday. “Knowing the future development potential and the capacity this site could generate, it was very important the town take a particular look at this site.”
If approved, the Gateway project would include up to 90,000 square feet of commercial and residential space on 13 acres, now made up of eight individual parcels. Currently, the Gateway site is mostly zoned for highway business use, which would limit it to uses like car dealerships and appliance stores. If the Gateway project is approved, it would require the Town Board to approve a planned development district, a zoning mechanism that trades community benefits for increased density and building. The PDD, if approved, would allow many more types of businesses, including smaller stores and chains.
The project would also include as many as 30 residential units, mostly second-floor apartments above the retail stores.
In general, the proposal got a favorable response on Tuesday, although residents said they want to ensure that the business component succeeds.
“The last thing we want to see is a failed shopping center,” Bridgehampton resident and Citizens Advisory Committee member Julie Burmeister said. “I think it is very important to make this a success and that we choose tenants that produce services for our community.”
Jeffrey Rimland, who lives just west of the site, said he is concerned about how the town will be able to maintain the current quality of life for residents already in the area. “I would like to know how the developer is going to be able to control sight and sound pollution from these apartments to our very tranquil homes that are already developed over there,” he said. “We don’t object to development, but I object to having development jammed down our throats.”
The hearing was the first of two in the preapplication phase of the proposal. After the second hearing, which is scheduled for February, the board will decide if the proposal warrants moving to the application phase, when details would be further vetted.
The Hampton Bays Community Center building, which houses the town’s senior center, will be purchased by the town by the end of the year.
Currently, the town leases the Ponquogue Avenue property. The town will pay $225,000 for the building.
After months of pleas from residents in the Flanders and Riverside area for a new sidewalk snowplow, the Southampton Town Board voted on Tuesday to allocate $135,000 for the equipment.
On Tuesday, Flanders, Riverside, Northampton Association President Vince Taldone—who has been a strong advocate for the sidewalk plow—thanked the board, saying it will go a long way to help the residents of Flanders and Riverside who do not have cars and have been forced to walk in the street because the Highway Department did not have the equipment to clear all of the sidewalks and bus stops.
The Town Board members, with tongues firmly planted in cheeks, added a clause to the resolution on Tuesday, naming the new snowplow “The Vince Taldone sidewalk plow.”