By Annette Hinkle
Bridgehampton may be a quiet hamlet, especially in the off-season … but looks can be deceiving.
With signs pointing to commercial development coming down the pike and applications for horse farms appearing regularly on Southampton Town Planning Board agendas, on Monday, members of the Bridgehampton CAC discussed the need to brace themselves for what could be a busy season ahead.
Cathie Gandel, co-chair of the Bridgehampton CAC, shared details on three potential developments along Montauk Highway that could be gearing up soon.
The biggest (and longest in the pipeline) is billed as “Promenade at Bridgehampton” and proposed for the 13-acre parcel across from Bridgehampton Commons. Once considered a potential site for Barnes and Noble, the property is now owned by Water Mill’s Carol Konner.
Though no official plans have been submitted to the planning board, the firm Sabre Real Estate Group LLC is circulating materials to potential renters for the retail development, citing Equinox, Soul Cycle and PURE Yoga as proposed tenants.
While not officially on the planning board agenda, at the planning board’s September 12 meeting the development was presented as a walk-on.
“It’s a pre-submission site plan application,” explained Gandel. “Prior to submission the applicants will meet with the planning board to discuss proposed uses. This is the first step. There will be a public hearing down the pike.”
Konner is expected to share details of the plan with the CAC at its next meeting and Gandel notes this parcel is one the CAC has been monitoring for years.
Also before the planning board is a request for a two year extension of the BNB Ventures IV plan which calls for a 9,030 square foot building with retail and office space to be built on the vacant lot at Montauk Highway and Lumber Lane.
“There have long been rumors of it being a CVS,” said Gandel. “That project was actually one of the CAC’s successes. The original design called for heavy looking, dense brick buildings. We had meetings with the developer’s representative and the architect and spoke at the planning board. The plan was redesigned to keep the building in line with Topping Rose and the Rogers House across the street.”
The third parcel Gandel and the CAC will be watching is the 1.3 acre property on Butter Lane at Montauk Highway. Existing plans call for two commercial buildings and two residences. Designed by architect Fred Stelle, in 2009 the planning board adopted the site plan with conditional approval, but the project was never started.
Gandel notes the lot is now for sale.
The planning board has also called for a scoping session related to a 120 foot AT&T monopole proposed for 60 Foster Avenue in Bridgehampton. That scoping session is scheduled for October 10 at 7 p.m. at Southampton Town Hall.
Beyond these commercial developments, the CAC is concerned about the number of horse farms springing up in the area, many built on agricultural reserve land.
“When they build these facilities on land where development rights have been purchased by the CPF, they’re getting a really good deal,” said Gandel. “They’re paying less for the land and real estate taxes for something that becomes a commercial venture.”
The CAC agreed to prepare a resolution asking the town to revisit the CPF legislation in light of “unforeseen circumstances.”
“As part of that, we’ll be asking the town to consider an audit of CPF properties purchased and sold to document current use of those properties. We’re curious to know how many times CPF bought development rights and the land was used for farming, horse farms or compounds,” noted Gandel who said much of the CAC’s focus now is determining what Bridgehampton will look like down the road.
“One of the issues we need to talk about at the CAC is what do we want for the future of the hamlet?” said Gandel. “Preserving farmland is fine and we should do that. But there are few small farmers left and what a lot of us want to preserve are vistas.”
Between fences, buildings and privet hedges, especially on horse farms, Gandel noted the expansive vistas are vanishing.
“We know you can’t stop time and development, but we’re trying to be aware of it before the fact and hope to work with land owners and developers to preserve the rural nature of the hamlet.”