Attorneys representing the Bridgehampton Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC) filed a letter with the Southampton Town Planning Board last week reiterating the CAC’s objection to a proposal to expand Bridgehampton’s historic Bulls Head Inn into a 22-bedroom hotel with a restaurant and wellness center.
The letter was filed on December 28, the day of the CAC’s monthly meeting and the last day the town would accept public comments on the proposal’s environmental impact statement. Bridgehampton CAC Chairman Fred Cammann, said the impact statement fails to address the committee’s concern that the project will not be economically feasible in the current recession, and that the overall project fails to maintain the historic integrity of the property. He added that public opinion from residents and advocacy groups like the Group for the East End has been largely against the development in its current state.
The property, located at the corner of Montauk Highway and the Bridgehampton-Sag Harbor Turnpike, is know as the Bulls Head Inn, but is actually the Judge Abraham Topping Rose House. Currently owned by Bill Campbell, a former chief executive at Phillip Morris, Campbell has sought to develop The Orchard at Bulls Head Inn, by renovating the historic inn, adding four new cottages on the property and a parking lot. A historic barn is also proposed to be moved and renovated into the development.
Concerns with the project have included additions on the property being too modern and not in keeping with the Greek revival architecture found on-site, that the historic building will be diminished by additions to the Bulls Head Inn and concerns that the project is too large and not in keeping with the neighborhood. Project sponsors have argued the project would boost business in the area.
The Southampton Town Planning Board is scheduled to address the Bulls Head Inn project at its meeting today, Thursday, January 7 at 1 p.m. According to Cammann, the committee will continue to fight the application once it is heard by the town’s zoning board of appeals. In that application, Cambell will ask that an adjacent northern parcel be down-zoned from residential to commercial, in addition to other variances to allow for the project which required two lots be merged.
“We object to the de facto zoning,” writes the CAC in their response. “Given the substantial objections to the down zoning, the proposed project should be rejected.”
“Nor does the sponsor directly answer our position that having relied on the standards of the National Park Service, it should not ignore them,” continues the CAC’s response to the impact statement. “What the sponsor’s responses show clearly is that the integrity of the Inn is not going to be preserved and there will be major changes. For example, with respect to the barn being moved, the sponsor states that “the barn’s “new position closer to the main house would better integrate it into the property’s new use….” We submit that a new use and a change of an existing structure does not meet the criteria which the sponsor claims it is following.”
Cammann also announced that New York State and Suffolk County have succeeded in financing the completion of the sidewalk project on the Bridgehampton-Sag Harbor Turnpike.
Lastly, Cammann said Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne Holst has announced she will appoint a member of the town board to serve each Southampton Town CAC in an effort to create greater communication through the town’s various hamlets. Town councilwoman Nancy Graboski, a resident of Bridgehampton, will likely serve the Bridgehampton CAC. Issues Bridgehampton has chosen to focus on include how town financing is dictated and arranged.