A new report submitted to the Southampton Town Board last week by the town’s top planner called for a reduction in the size and scale of the proposed 40-unit townhouse development along the east side of the Shinnecock Canal in Hampton Bays.
The document also raised a bevy of other questions and concerns about the proposed Canoe Place Inn Maritime Planned Development District, or MPDD, still before the Town Board.
In his review of the MPDD’s Draft Environmental Impact Statement, Kyle Collins, the town’s chief planning and development administrator, picked apart the report detailing the scope of the development proposed by cousins Gregg and Mitchell Rechler. The review raised points that the Rechlers and their company, R-Squared Development, LLC, should address before filing the project’s Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS).
The Canoe Place Inn MPDD encompasses three separate properties in Hampton Bays. One parcel sits just west of the canal, where the closed inn sits and, under the proposal, would house a refurbished inn with a restaurant and catering facility. Another sits on the east side of the canal, where the Tide Runners and 1 North Steakhouse restaurants once operated, and would house the 40 three-bedroom townhouses being proposed by the developers. The third property is located on a hill just east of North Road, and it would house a proposed wastewater treatment facility for the townhouses.
Among the 37 items addressed in the report, Mr. Collins suggested that the Rechlers create “a conceptual design alternative that reduces the massing and scale of the proposed townhouses to fit better into the site and surroundings.” The current proposal, which was submitted in June, calls for the townhouses to occupy some 88,000 square feet, more than four times the as-of-right yield of 17,176 square feet.
Mr. Collins could not be immediately reached for comment on Wednesday.
The report also calls for an alternative to the proposed 10-foot-tall noise blocking wall along the property line to protect the character of the townhouse complex, and making the townhouses available for rent or fractional ownership to support the tourism and hospitality industries. The document also seeks to mitigate projected increases in traffic in the area—Montauk Highway at Canoe Place Road has the highest crash rate in the area, according to Mr. Collins’s report. His study notes that adding more traffic delays “will only exacerbate this problem.”
Another issue raised was the actual “public benefit” of the boardwalk component, which would be built on the southern part of the canal-side property. That proposal does not satisfy the town’s desire to have a public access promenade along the whole waterfront, according to the review, and the boardwalk was quantified as a loss to the appraised value of the land. Mr. Collins suggested that the Rechlers explore an alternative public benefit component, which is one of the requirements of a PDD.
The Town Board closed the public hearing on the DEIS on December 17 but left open the hearing on the requested change of zone for the three properties. The fifth public hearing on the proposed zoning change was held Tuesday evening and adjourned until Tuesday, February 11, after a number of residents shared their concerns.
After the hearing, Mitchell Rechler said the comments shared Tuesday were similar to the issues that have been raised time and again during the past six months. He said that he, his cousin and their consultants will review the town’s comments before crafting a response.
“We’re gonna look at the whole thing and address everything,” Mr. Rechler said, adding that he just received the town’s comments so he doesn’t know what exact changes will be made in the FEIS. He also couldn’t say when his firm’s response will be ready.
Shinnecock Hills resident Hope Sandrow took to the podium Tuesday to express concerns that the townhouse development will diminish the quality of life for her and her neighbors because of the increased traffic in the area and the restricted view of the canal.
Ms. Sandrow said the town should focus its revitalization efforts for Hampton Bays along the Main Street corridor by building a housing development in that area and using Good Ground Park as the focal point of a more walkable community.
“I’m very much against taking what our forefathers saw as resort maritime use [property] and making it housing use,” she said. “It seems foolish, it wrecks the use of the waterways for ourselves and for others, and it changes it forever. And once you change it, it never goes back.”