The Southampton Village Board heard the first presentation on a proposed 56-unit senior housing development on Moses Lane last week, but deferred taking any official action until village officials have time to review the application.
Attorney Gil Flanagan made the presentation, with officials noting that it is still very early in the application process. Still, several village residents already raised concerns about the project, including whether the property lies within the required half-mile radius from the village business or office district to meet requirements for a multifamily planned residential district. They also asked what the development would mean for density in the area and how issues like traffic and sewage would be handled.
According to the application filed with the village, the owners propose to construct 14 two-story buildings with four units each on the 11-acre property at 248 Moses Lane. Each unit would include a two-car garage and a basement. A clubhouse, 112 parking spaces and a large swimming pool also are proposed. Each unit would be two floors, and would have approximately 2,000 square feet of living space, according to Mr. Flanagan.
At the Village Board meeting on Thursday, January 9, Mr. Flanagan said he hopes the village trustees will formally review the proposal—which he noted has already been preliminarily reviewed by the Suffolk County Department of Health—and refer the application to the Planning Board, saying that last week was simply an information meeting. He also stressed that his clients, Jim Tsunis, on behalf of property owners Helen and Edward Corrigan and Beach Plum Meadows LLC, have done their due diligence with this project, have already conducted a traffic study, and intend to have a storm drainage system that can accommodate up to 8 inches of rain.
The project, which would be located on Moses Lane south of County Road 39, would require a special zoning designation, changing the half-acre residentially zoned property into a multifamily planned residential district. The Village Board would have to approve the change of zone, and the Planning Board would conduct a site plan review.
The property is located over a walking mile from Southampton Village Main Street, but it is unclear at this time how far it is from both the village business district and the village office district boundaries. The distances will be important, because village code says that, on a case-by-case basis, developments within a mile of the village business district can include up to six units per acre with special zoning granted by the Village Board. That would allow the 56 units proposed.
“It is true that in the village code there is no distinction between use for the general public and use for senior citizens,” Mr. Flanagan started his presentation by saying. “But there is a need for senior housing within the Village of Southampton.”
At the meeting, one summer resident, Linda Kurtz, expressed concern that allowing 56 units would add too many cars and people to an area that was zoned for half-acre residential lots. “Adding a multifamily district to that area, so close to the village and all of these small streets, is a mistake,” she said. “I want to ask this group what the timing of the proposal is, so we can get the opposition we need. I want to speak to the people on every single one of those beautiful little village streets, so they can know what these developers are trying to do so it can have the recognition it deserves.”
Mr. Flanagan told the trustees that his clients have already commissioned a traffic study, and engineers assure him that Moses Lane, which is designated as a collector street, would be more than able to handle the increase in traffic. “That street would function at a ‘Level A,’” he said. “That is the highest grade you can get. According to our traffic engineers, there would be no level of service problems if this were implemented.”
Also at the meeting, several residents questioned whether the project even qualified to become a multifamily planned residential district. One resident, Paul Bollo, cited concerns that it does not lie within the required half mile from the village business or office district, as stated in village code. Although Mr. Flanagan assured trustees that the project is within the required distance from the village office district, Village Attorney Richard DePetris was unsure of village requirements for how the distance should be measured—in a straight line, or following a path along village streets. Mr. DePetris said he would investigate and determine if the development does lie within the borders—a key issue that remained unresolved after last week’s meeting.
The project would be the first senior housing development in Southampton Village. Although within the village boundaries, the development also would lie within the Tuckahoe School District, contributing to the Tuckahoe School tax base without adding students.
At the meeting, Village Mayor Mark Epley assured residents that the village has just started reviewing the application, that a number of questions must still be answered, and that Mr. DePetris will need time to review the application.
This week, Mr. Epley said he is not surprised by the response at the meeting last week, noting that there has been a growing opposition to the project.
The trustees are expected to recommend at their January 21 work session that the project move to the Planning Board for review. Although residents will be able to address the Planning Board during public comment periods at its meetings, a public hearing also will be scheduled with the Village Trustees after the Planning Board makes its recommendation.
“It was an interesting dialogue,” Mr. Epley said of last week’s meeting. “I think it kind of helps me focus in on where people are at with this whole thing.”