East Hampton Town Board Calls For Second Hearing On Chain Store Law

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A new law that would require formula or chain stores to obtain a special permit before constructing a new building or moving into East Hampton Town will be heard at a second public hearing soon.

At the East Hampton Town Board’s work session on Tuesday, board members discussed substantial changes that were made after the town’s last public hearing on the law in April.

Where there was once a proposed restriction prohibiting formula stores within a historic district, within a mile of a historic district, or within a half mile of any designated historic building, businesses can now occupy those areas and would be subject to site plan review by the town’s Planning Board. Chain stores also would be allowed in residential business zones, whereas before they were proposed to be allowed only in central business zones.

The law now defines a formula store not as a retail store, restaurant or fast food establishment with 10 or more locations worldwide, but within the United States.

Finally, the limits that had been placed on formula stores regarding street-level frontage and maximum gross floor area were removed and will be subject to review by the Planning Board as well.

Supervisor Larry Cantwell suggested the town change the number of locations that define what a chain store is, since 10 might be a low number. “I think the number should be larger,” he said. “It’s not what I envision a chain store to be.”

Councilman Peter Van Scoyoc said that some of the wording in the new additions needs some tweaking. According to the proposal, the approval of a formula business must not create a “sameness” within the neighborhood that would “dilute” the rural and historic community character. Mr. Van Scoyoc said the word “sameness” could have many meanings, and that it should primarily address visual similarity so that the type of store isn’t regulated.

East Hampton Business Alliance Executive Director Margaret Turner said she was concerned that the law would prohibit formula businesses from opening in a formerly preexisting, nonconforming space. As the law stands now, a new formula store wanting to open in a preexisting, nonconforming space would be prohibited from opening there.

Mr. Cantwell said the Town Board will take a look at that part of the law before putting it back up for public hearing.

He said the town will do a business and hamlets needs study but would not wait until it is done to vote on the proposed legislation.

Full-Time Bus

Councilwoman Kathee Burke-Gonzalez announced on Tuesday that the town will provide a full-time bus and driver Monday through Fridays, from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., from Memorial Day through Labor Day, in Montauk, for seniors and disabled residents.

The change comes after the town received complaints that the service took a break in the middle of the day from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., when many residents need the service, she said.

The service is available to those seniors who are unable to drive and have no other means of transportation for essential errands and appointments, like grocery shopping and doctors’ appointments. Those who are disabled and under 60 can also take advantage.

The service is free and will continue to be, Ms. Burke-Gonzalez said.

“Having a bus stationed in Montauk full-time during the busy summer season will undoubtedly be a comfort to the elderly and disabled folks we currently serve there, as well as to new folks we hope will utilize this invaluable service,” she said.

In 2013, the Human Services Department, which provides the service, drove 159 clients and made 18,053 trips. Already, through April 15, the town has served 133 clients and made 4,850 trips.

For more information, call 324-4443.

Name Change For Plaza

The Town Board unanimously agreed to dedicate and rename The Plaza, also known as The Circle, in downtown Montauk as Carl Fisher Plaza.

Members of the Montauk Citizens Advisory Committee had proposed the idea in April. Since the change would not affect postal delivery, the board had a clear path to make the dedication.

Mr. Cantwell said that no matter what people think of Mr. Fisher personally, his influence on Montauk is “undeniable.”

In 1925, Mr. Fisher, a real estate developer and entrepreneur, purchased more than 10,000 acres in Montauk in connection with his plan to make Montauk an international resort destination.

The dedication is to honor his historic contribution of 30 buildings, including a golf club, surf club, a yacht club, polo field, the landmark office building, a shopping center and an enclosed tennis arena in Montauk, which was reopened in 2006 as the Montauk Playhouse Community Center.

He was responsible for laying down roads, utilities, water and sewer systems and built homes for those whom he hired to work for him.

John Keeshan, a member of the Montauk CAC, thanked the board for the motion.

“This is not really a memorial as much as it’s an endorsement of our legacy in Montauk,” he said. “Because of Carl Fisher’s enormous material contribution … after 95 years, I’d simply like to say, ‘Thank you.’”

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