Water Mill Development Raises Traffic Concerns in Bridgehampton

Posted on 02 July 2010

Fear of yet more traffic at one of the Hamptons’ busiest intersections has residents of Bridgehampton worried about what is happening five miles down the road in Water Mill.

A proposed development at the southeast corner of Montauk Highway and Flying Point Road has raised concerns among members of the Bridgehampton Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC) who met with Southampton Town Planning and Development Administrator Jefferson Murphree and Water Mill CAC co-chair Rachel Verno this past Monday. The meeting focused on the details of a planned development district (PDD) which would allow for the construction of four new buildings on approximately three acres at the busy intersection owned by Harrison Gray and the Charos family. The development would also include the existing Princess Diner, former Fortunoff buildings and existing Pier One, the latter two which would be expanded. Property now used by a solar company on the corner of the development would be used for a cromaglass wastewater treatment system.

The development is proposed as mixed use, featuring commercial spaces on the first floor with 47 apartments proposed on the second floors of the buildings, with 16 units slated to be affordable apartments.

A PDD is a mechanism by which the town board can overlay existing zoning with new zoning for a specific project, as long as the development has a public benefit. Affordable units, in this case, would be the public benefit.

Bridgehampton CAC Chairman Fred Cammann opened the discussion praising the Southampton Town Board, under the leadership of Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst, for giving CACs a greater role in projects that could impact not just the Bridgehampton community, but the surrounding region as well.

“It isn’t going to be perfect, but at least someone is listening,” said Cammann.

Verno agreed it is encouraging to see CACs working together throughout the town on big issues like this development, particularly when it will impact the town as a whole.

In the meeting, Cammann said that the proposed PDD would have an impact on traffic, not only in Bridgehampton, but also at the intersection of Montauk Highway, County Road 39 and Flying Point Road.

“It isn’t going to be perfect,” said Cammann of the intersection, “but at least someone is listening.”

Verno agreed it is encouraging to see CACs working together throughout the town on big issues like this development, particularly when it will impact the town as a whole.

“To clarify, we not only have a PDD proposal in front of us,” said Verno. “We have an option of sticking with the existing zoning.”

Under existing zoning, the properties can be developed under highway business, which would allow for uses like a furniture store or car dealership, businesses that tend to bring less traffic than other retail uses, noted Verno.

According to Murphree, after a failed attempt at developing one of the parcels in 2004 when residents bristled at the idea of a large scale, wholly commercial development on the site, the Charos family approached the town wondering what would be acceptable for the site outside of highway business uses. The town, said Murphree, thought residential development would be ideal, but the Charos family said they would need to have retail spaces as well to offset the cost.

The planning department initially worked with the family on a PDD similar to this one, but funding fell through and the Charos family took the project and came up with their own revisions with neighboring property owner Gray, said Murphree.

Cammann said retail at the site would encourage more traffic in the area when “it is already a nightmare.”

Gloria Rabinowitz, a member of the Water Mill CAC, noted that the Patio.com business owner – directly across the street – has purchased a northerly adjacent lot and has proposed an over-14,000 square-foot building to replace the current structure. Also zoned for highway business uses, Rabinowitz said, “You look at this corner and you think, whoa, a lot is going on.”

Bridgehampton CAC member Jeffrey Vogel suggested the committee hear the formal response from the Water Mill CAC before weighing in on the proposal, although he reiterated that traffic would be their number one concern.

Verno said Murphree will attend the Water Mill CACs July 12 meeting and the committee hopes to have a formal opinion by August.

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One Response to “Water Mill Development Raises Traffic Concerns in Bridgehampton”

  1. bill baily says:

    What is up with this group of people calling themselves a citizen advisory board? Traffic comes with the economy of the Hamptons. It is here to stay and is a way of life and without it we are all out of business. To stand in the way of something that is not only a step forward but also has far reaching benefits for the community because of traffic issues seems ridiculous. People are here and most in cars. They are all going some place. What difference does it make if they go to this store or that store? They are not coming from outside the Hamptons just to shop at any of these stores so how can you say this will significantly increase traffic. These folks need an alternate hobby.

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