By Annette Hinkle
Word of a possible CVS store coming to Bridgehampton was a hot topic of discussion at the Bridgehampton CAC meeting Monday night. While some in attendance expressed support for a new pharmacy in the area, no one present wants to see it located at the hamlet’s busiest and most notorious intersection — the corner where Lumber Lane, Bridgehampton/Sag Harbor Turnpike and Montauk Highway all meet.
And of course, that’s exactly where it appears to be going.
The property in question is the vacant lot on the northwest corner of Montauk Highway and Lumber Lane next to Starbucks. In 2011, the Southampton Town Planning Board approved BNB Ventures IV’s plans to demolish the derelict Bridgehampton Beverage store and construct a two-story, Greek revival inspired building with three retail spaces totaling nearly 5,000 square feet on the ground floor with three offices or two apartments on the second floor. At the time, the CAC was involved in discussions about the design and expressed support for the final proposal.
While the beverage store has been demolished, nothing has yet been built on the site. But recently, an application was filed with the Southampton Town Building Department for a building permit on the parcel listing CVS as the applicant.
And CAC members are none too happy about it.
“It appears to be a done deal, unless the building department knocks them out,” said Norm Lowe. “Unless we counter with a traffic study or adherence to the master plan, our power to stop what is rolling is limited.”
“In the large domain of Southampton, it isn’t much, this little place out here,” added Peter Wilson. “There are going to be tenants there. If you could wave a magic wand, the town would be proactive in seeking out tenants that would cause less traffic. CVS is a lot of traffic.”
“But a drug store is a permitted use and consistent with zoning and planning board approval,” he added.
Julie Burmeister felt that perhaps CVS could be encouraged to seek out an alternative location in Bridgehampton.
“We do need another pharmacy in my opinion, but having it on Montauk Highway at our worst intersection is ridiculous. What about Konner’s property across from the commons?” asked Burmeister, referring to a commercial development by Konner Friedlander Architects planned for eight acres next to the Carvel.
“That might be common ground,” added Nancy Walter-Yvertes. “If they want to put it across from the mall.”
(As it stands now, the Konner property is currently zoned highway business, and while uses such as a health club, which has been proposed for the site, are acceptable, a CVS would not be.)
In the absence of any legal footing from which to launch a defensive, CAC members wondered if perhaps public pressure might be brought to bear on CVS
Alejandro Saralegui asked if there had been a traffic study for the area, and if it would now be too late to call for one since the building is already approved.
“I say we come up with a resolution saying we’re against a single use high volume usage within a tight hamlet corridor,” said Saralegui. “As a marketing piece, there’s also the image of a CVS sign on Route 27 — that’s remarkable and can be the biggest motivator.”
“We have no power in town hall, really. Anything that leads to a greater presence for us to fight a battle is important,” said Lowe. “A very smart move once we have a resolution in writing is to start an email campaign. We have no budget, so we’ll start with our email list of Bridgehampton residents. We’ll send the resolution to everyone we know and everyone they know in Bridgehampton saying ‘We have a threat in Bridgehampton called CVS, if you have any ides on how to slow that effort down, we’d love your participation.’”
“It’s a zero cost publicity campaign,” he added. “It might make a difference. This resolution might be the perfect red flag to set out.”
On Wednesday, Southampton Town Planning Board member Phil Keith confirmed that the site plan is approved for retail “as of right.” That means, he explained, CVS is free to merge all three retail spaces into a single space if they choose.
What they cannot have, he noted, is a drive through like many pharmacies now offer.
“There are no zoning issues, so there are no permitting issues — it’s zoned retail,” said Keith who therefore does not expect the CVS application to come before his board.
He does feel, however, the Southampton Town Architectural Review Board might be called upon to weight in on the issue of signage.
“As far as a public hearing, I sense the ARB will be the place,” he said.
Other CAC News
Also on Monday, CAC member Ari Meisel presented his design for a new development at 2513 Montauk Highway in Bridgehampton. Currently the site of a pink house that recently had a fire, Meisel plans to raze the structured and build a new barn-like structure with retail space and residential units. Those units would two-bedroom affordable housing rental apartments.
“We’re hoping to start in the fall,” said Meisel who noted that the plans for the development had not yet been submitted to the town for approval as he first wanted to share them with the CAC.
The exterior calls for the use of charcoal colored reclaimed cypress and a dark metal roof. Rather than asphalt, Meisel hopes to use permeable pavers in the parking areas which allow the grass grow through.
“I think it’s a fitting project for the space,” he said. “We want it to fit in with nature and take into account the trees already there. Everything we’re doing is LEED certified.”
The building’s two commercial spaces will be situated on the ground floor, with the back space 1,700 square feet and the front 2,700 square feet.
“The front space has full double height ceilings and an amazing glass front,” explained Meisel. “Further down the line we hope to use the exterior as decking.”
“For the apartments, we’re constrained by rules that say an affordable apartment has to be exactly 1,200 square feet,” added Meisel who explained that each two bedroom unit would rent for $2,475 a month.
Also at the Bridgehampton CAC meeting, Cathie Gandel stepped down from her position as co-chair at the start of Monday’s meeting, citing her appointment to the Southampton Town Planning Board. Gandel was sworn in to that board on Tuesday.