How to balance the needs of businesses along the County Road 39 commercial corridor with the desires of residents who live just behind those businesses is a matter being played out in a budding controversy over an access road that runs through the Southampton Meadows subdivision.
Jane Marano, who lives on Seasons Lane in the subdivision, is concerned that her street and neighborhood will soon be flooded with commercial traffic. That’s because Southampton Town is on the verge of granting the Ocean Electric company access to Seasons Lane, which connects to the back end of the business’s driveway. Ms. Marano is also concerned that the value of her property will go down if her street becomes busy with commercial activity.
Currently, AVR Realty, the Yonkers-based firm that developed the subdivision, owns the 1-foot-wide strip of land, known as a “gore strip,” that runs between the Ocean Electric property and Seasons Lane. Once the deed to that gore strip is delivered to the town, the company will be granted access to it by the Town Board because that access was already approved by the Town Planning Board, according to Southampton attorney Gil Flanagan.
Mr. Flanagan, who represents Ms. Marano and a handful of other Southampton Meadows residents, said he is petitioning the Town Board to meet and discuss the matter. “I would like the Town Board to revisit this strip of land,” Mr. Flanagan said.
Town Supervisor Linda Kabot said she was open to Mr. Flanagan’s request, but said it was unlikely the Town Board would reverse the Planning Board’s decision.
“We may accommodate them in the future,” Ms. Kabot said. “But the neighbors want us to undo what the Planning Board has already done.”
At a meeting of the Southampton Citizens Advisory Committee last month, Ms. Marano mentioned that the County Road 39 outreach study, drafted by the Southampton Town Department of Land Management, advises that “highway businesses” not be allowed to permeate residential areas. Ocean Electric is located on County Road 39.
But Jeff DiLandro, the owner of Ocean Electric, said the Planning Board granted him access to Seasons Lane before Southampton Meadows was even developed. Mr. DiLandro said he is sympathetic to his residential neighbors, but his main concern is safety.
According to Mr. DiLandro, the purpose of having access to Seasons Lane is to gain entry to the westbound lanes of County Road 39. Turning left out of his business and crossing the busy thoroughfare to head west is dangerous, he said, as opposed to traveling south out of the back driveway, onto Seasons Lane and through the subdivision to the traffic light at the Magee Street and County Road 39 intersection.
“We want to be a good player in the neighborhood,” Mr. DiLandro said. “But our main concern is safety.”
Town Planning Board Chairman Dennis Finnerty supported Mr. DiLandro’s argument, saying that the main reason Seasons Lane was designed was to provide access to the commercial enterprises along County Road 39. “It’s consistent with good planning,” Mr. Finnerty said.
But Mary Rossi, who also lives in the subdivision on Winter Way, said her concern is not confined to Ocean Electric. “If they are given access, then any commercial property could be given access in the future,” she said.
Ms. Rossi said she is also worried about the safety issues posed by commercial vehicles on residential roads. “There’s a park in our neighborhood where children play and I’m worried about someone getting hurt,” she said.
However, Mr. DiLandro said the commercial traffic from his company is relatively light. “We have vans and the passenger cars of our employees,” he said, adding that large trucks make deliveries only about once a month.
When she purchased her home three years ago, Ms. Marano said she had no idea that her street would become accessible to commercial traffic. “No one knew this access could be granted when they bought their property,” she said. “It was hidden in the title.”
Ms. Kabot dismissed those claims, noting that homeowners should have been aware of the stipulations. “Every single person who bought property in that subdivision had knowledge about this possibility,” she said. “We recognize their concerns, but reducing turning conflicts on County Road 39 is deemed to be in the public interest.”