By Stephen J. Kotz
The Bridgehampton Citizens Advisory Committee continues to shadow box with a plan—not yet filed—to build a CVS pharmacy at Bridgehampton’s busiest and most problematic intersection.
The proposal occupied the full attention of the CAC during a nearly two-hour-long meeting on Monday, at which Jefferson Murphree, the former director of land management for Southampton, presented an overview of the site that touched on its zoning and the rationale behind it as contained in the town’s comprehensive plan.
Mr. Murphree, who now holds a similar position with Riverhead Town, was at the meeting in a private capacity to represent his in-laws, who live on Lumber Lane, not far from the proposed development.
Members of the CAC and other concerned Bridgehampton residents descended on a Southampton Town Board meeting last month to demand that the board intervene to prevent the CVS from coming into Bridgehampton, but their pleas were deflected by Supervisor Anna Throne Holst who told them the Town Board had no jurisdiction over the matter and that they should take their concerns to the town planning board when, and if, it receives an application for the project.
But Mr. Murphree said the town board could be pulled into the fray, if the CAC is able to make the case that the development, and others similar to it, would cause onerous traffic and parking issues. If that were the case, he said, it could request a moratorium on commercial development in the hamlet.
Committee members agreed that that there simply isn’t enough room at the intersection for vehicles to get safely in and out of the site, pointing out that traffic is routinely backed up toward the turnpike and Lumber Lane.
Mr. Murphree urged committee members to continue to take their concerns to the town board. “You have to be on their radar,” he said, “because they are paying attention to the squeaky wheel.”
CAC members said it is just a matter of time before BNB Ventures, which owns the corner property, will officially apply for a special exception permit for the pharmacy. The company already has planning approval to build a two-story building measuring approximately 9,000 square feet, plus a complete basement with an elevator. The property would include a total of 10 parking spaces, including two for the handicapped, according to Mr. Murphree.
The committee supported the original building design for the site under the assumption that it was gong to be used for a number of small offices or stores with apartments on the second floor.
CAC co-chairwoman Nancy Walter Yvertes, who is also involved with a separate group, Save Bridgehampton Main Street, said the organization has already raised the $6,000 it needs to pay for a traffic study, which, she said, could be used to counter any study the developer submits.
“How can this be considered an independent traffic study?” asked Gay Lynch. “They’re all hired guns,” responded Ms. Walter Yvertes.
Long-time CAC member Fred Cammann suggested the committee should focus its attention on CVS, and not town government. “This is a commercial venture coming in here that is depending on the good will of the community to not go bankrupt,” he said. “Why in the name of God would you want to put a store in the middle of a community that doesn’t want you?”
“We have to be prepared to attack this,” added Dan Shedrick. “As Don King said, this is all about m-o-n-e-y.”
But Leonard Davenport, another CAC member said the group needed to keep its eye on the bigger picture. Even if it succeeds in convincing CVS that it should not come to Bridgehampton, a similar plan will rear its head sometime in the future, he said.
He urged the committee to keep the pressure on the planning board to oppose the project and concurrently encourage the town to make a good-faith effort to buy the property and develop it into a corner park.