Tag Archive | "Bridgehampton Citizens Advisory Committee"

CVS Foes Plan Bridgehampton Protest

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By Stephen J. Kotz

Members of Save Bridgehampton Main Street, a group that was formed in large part to fight the prospect of a CVS Pharmacy in the hamlet, are reaching back to a popular tactic from the 1960s—the protest march—as their latest weapon in their fight.

The protest, which will take place at 10 a.m. on Thursday, July 3, was the brainchild of Carey Millard, a member of both Save Bridgehampton Main Street and the Bridgehampton Citizens Advisory Committee, which has also opposed the CVS.

After a recent CAC meeting, during which members seemed to be spinning their wheels, Ms. Millard said she was inspired to take to the streets.

“I just got irritated listening to all the bright ideas,” she said. “I just thought it was time we did something.”

She said on Tuesday that she had already reached out to about 20 friends to join in and that she and friends had made up about 40 signs, but that she really had no idea how many people would show up in front of Starbucks for the march.

“The worst thing that can happen is it will be a disaster,” she said. “And if that’s the case, we’ll just do another one on a weekend. Maybe we’ll just have to keep rubbing everyone’s noses in this business.”

At the same time, Leonard Davenport, who is also a member of both organizations, has sent the Southampton Town Board a petition collected by Save Bridgehampton Main Street requesting that the town try to use Community Preservation Fund money to buy the property in question—a corner lot at Montauk Highway and the Bridgehampton-Sag Harbor Turnpike—for preservation.

“He’s going to have to be turned into a willing seller,” said Mr. Davenport, referring to Paul Kanavos whose BNB Ventures owns the property as well as the former Bridgehampton National Bank building, which is now occupied by Starbucks.

“There’s been a lot of talk about preserving that corner,” said Mr. Davenport, noting that opponents had received next to no negative feedback in their effort to block CVS.

“The town board is going to have to take that action. They are the ones who will have to take that approach,” he said.

When it was revealed earlier this year that CVS wanted to lease a 9,000-square-foot building that has been approved for the former site of the Bridgehampton Beverage store, members of the CAC hit the roof. They were apoplectic upon learning that the pharmacy giant, which had earlier sought to build stores in Wainscott and Sag Harbor, had actually signed a lease with BNB Ventures.

Because the CAC is an advisory committee to the town board, residents formed the new organization, Save Bridgehampton Main Street. That group has undertaken a fundraising drive to hire a lawyer as well as commission a traffic study.

In May, a horde of Bridgehampton residents descended on Town Hall demand the town board do something to stop the project, but their pleas were rebuffed by Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst who said the town could not interfere in a matter before the planning board.

Last month, members of the CAC decided they would use a broader argument to state their case by opposing all retail development at the corner.

“Let’s look at the larger picture,” said Mr. Davenport. “Almost anything that goes there of a substantial size will create a problem with parking and traffic.”

The petition, which asks the town board to buy the property, cites parking, traffic and a host of other reasons for preventing the CVS.

CVS Plans Cause Agita for Bridgehampton CAC

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Members of the Bridgehampton Citizens Advisory Committee are up in arms over a proposal to build a CVS pharmacy at the busy intersection of Montauk Highway and the Bridgehampton-Sag Harbor Turnpike.  Stephen J. Kotz photo

By Stephen J. Kotz

The recent disclosure that the pharmacy giant CVS wants to open a store at a busy corner in Bridgehampton had members of the hamlet’s Citizens Advisory Committee reaching for their heartburn medication on Monday and threatening to hire their own lawyer to fight the proposal.

“It’s a shocking development,” said the CAC’s chairwoman, Nancy Walter-Yvertes, after explaining how she and other committee members had stumbled upon the knowledge that CVS, as has been rumored for several months, does indeed want to open a store at the bustling intersection of Montauk Highway and the Bridgehampton-Sag Harbor Turnpike.

The committee chairwoman said CAC should take the unprecedented step of hiring its own attorney “to do something artful and legally slow down” the process.

Committee members have opposed the prospect of a CVS because, they say, it would snarl traffic at an already clogged intersection, there is insufficient parking at the site, and its operations, including deliveries and lighting, would have a negative effect on the community.

Ms. Walter-Yvertes said CVS had faced fierce opposition in Wainscott and Sag Harbor.

While CVS confirmed interest and the potential for a lease of the Long Island Avenue building that houses 7-Eleven and Sing City in 2007, no formal plans were ever filed with the Village of Sag Harbor. The village board did enact a new zoning code in 2009 that restricted the size of stores, effectively preventing any business from combining several spaces into one large store without significant review by the village’s planning board.

According to Ms. Walter-Yvertes, CAC members had recently inquired of Southampton Town officials about the possibility of CVS trying to build on that site and had been told the town had no specific knowledge of any such plans.

But when CAC members called the phone numbers listed on a sign at the property, which identifies the owner as BNB Ventures IV, they eventually received a return phone call from David J. Berman, CVS’s Director of Real Estate for Metro New York, who said the company would like to meet with CAC members to discuss the company’s plans. Mr. Berman could not be reached for comment this week.

“For close to two months we’ve been doing a lot of work on this,” said Norman Lowe, the CAC’s vice chairman. “I think we were stonewalled at Town Hall very effectively. For someone to say there was no identifiable action at Town Hall is poppycock in my mind.”

That accusation was news to Janice Scherer, a town planner who attended the meeting with Councilwoman Christine Scalera to answer the committee’s questions about the project.

“I can assure you nobody knew anything about CVS,” Ms. Scherer said, adding, “maybe someone knew somewhere, but it certainly wasn’t in the planning division. They are very quiet about these things.”

According to committee member Dick Bruce, who was one of those who sat in on the meeting with Mr. Berman, the company wants to develop a two-story building planned for the site into an 8,340-square-foot store that would have a pharmacy on the second floor and use the 4,400-square-foot basement for storage.

Mr. Bruce said the CAC had been originally told the building would house three 1,500-square foot businesses or offices on each of its two floors.

CAC members said the town has already issued a building permit for the exterior shell of a 9,000-square-foot, two-story building at the site. An additional permit would be required for interior work.

The property is zoned for village business, which limits individual uses to 5,000 square feet. A property owner can have a larger business, but must first obtain a special exception permit from the planning board.

Ms. Scherer said the special exception permit requirement was the town’s way of regulating what can be developed at the site. Residents, she added, could argue before the planning board that they wanted to restrict a “formula business” that would have negative impacts on the community, but “you can’t say we want this or that, or we want mom and pops to succeed.”

“The only place that we have a legal footing, any chance of stopping this thing is if we kill it in the planning board,” said Mr. Lowe.

Ms. Scalera said she did not want to weigh in on the application, but she agreed the CAC had legitimate reasons to voice its objections.

“The nature of what is being proposed there has been changed” since the building was approved, she said. “It is legitimate question for someone to say what is stop someone from taking over three places on Main Street and trying to do the same thing.”

There has been talk that CVS might try to set up two different corporate entities to try to get around the size limit, and Ms. Scalera said that determination would be in the hands of the town’s chief building inspector, Michael Benincasa, although she said she thought the building inspector “would be able to see through” any attempt to skirt the law.

Of Ms. Walter-Yvertes’ vow to hire an attorney, Ms. Scalera, who is an attorney herself, expressed doubts. “My cut is if a group of residents want to get together and hire an attorney, they would be well within their purview,” she said. “But I’ve never heard of a CAC hiring one. That would be unprecedented.”

A handful of residents who turned out for the meeting said they were totally opposed to a CVS at that corner. “I’m seeing an ‘Occupy Wall Street,’” said Theresa Quinn.

After offering a litany of concerns about the site, Tony Lambert said he was tired of the town not listening to the concerns of the CAC. “They have been doing this for years. They have been approving things for years without coming down to the CAC,” he said. “And when we try to intervene, we get nothing.”

Southampton Supervisor Candidates Debate CPF Future

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As a write-in candidate for Southampton Town Supervisor, former Republican Supervisor Linda Kabot has not had a formal debate against incumbent Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst on the issues facing Southampton Town.

But at this week’s Bridgehampton Citizen’s Advisory Committee (CAC) meeting, the two clashed, while basically remaining on the same page, over the town’s desire to borrow over $100 million against the Community Preservation Fund (CPF). The money would be borrowed over the course of the next four years in order to purchase around 2,000 acres in Southampton Town.

Following a 2012 budget presentation on Monday night by Throne-Holst, who is the Democratic, Working Families and Independence Party candidate in the November 8 election for supervisor, Kabot approached the board with her pitch for candidacy in the uncontested race. Kabot, with retiring Southampton Town Councilwoman Nancy Grabowski seated at her side, said she was running in an effort to give town residents a choice in who should lead the town board through 2014.

Kabot began by stating it was under her lead, not Throne-Holst, that the town began getting its finances together through the aid of the town comptroller Tamara Wright.

“Immediately, in 2008, I set a course of financial management to move us through the turmoil,” she said.

Kabot questioned that the full Democratic Party slate, which includes Throne-Holst, Councilwoman Bridget Fleming and candidate Brad Bender, has taken credit in its advertising for restoring the town’s bond rating. Kabot said it was a feat attained in February 2010, before Fleming was elected in a special March 2010 race.

“We transitioned to a new town supervisor who worked diligently for the town, and I will not take that away from her,” said Kabot.

Kabot said the town should continue to cut spending, in particular because the economy nationwide is still sagging and the tax base is not growing. She added residents she has spoken to are also concerned about code enforcement and protecting property values. Taking care of the highway department roads and ensuring the preservation of the town’s leaf program is also important, said Kabot.

“The local economy is in a recession still and we need to do more for our local businesses to encourage them to foster and grow,” said Kabot, calling for a more streamlined regulatory process for minor changes on a property or in a business.

However, it was when Kabot tackled the CPF that a debate erupted between she and Throne-Holst.

Kabot charged that Throne-Holst was proposing a $125 million bond act that would borrow against CPF to purchase properties in the town immediately.

“I do agree we need to extend our purchasing power, but not to the tune of $125 million,” said Kabot.

She said if the CPF failed to perform as hoped, the town may have to dip into its general fund to cover such an expense. Kabot advocated looking towards a $50 million bond instead.

“The CPF isn’t merely there to willy-nilly buy open space,” said Throne-Holst. “It is here to protect our greatest economic engine, the viability of our environment.”

Throne-Holst said the $125 million proposal was “not random,” but a figure conceived by the town’s Community Preservation Fund committee, a bi-partisan group, that has targeted 2,000 acres for preservation in Southampton Town. The supervisor called the properties “critical,” much of it active farmland and watershed properties that if developed could negatively impact the town.

Throne-Holst noted many of the committee members are fiscal conservatives, but that the whole group supports this idea, particularly when facing the reality that real estate prices are now at an all time low and the town could save millions purchasing property now, rather than in 10 years.

She added the concept does not involve seeking a $125 million bond, as Kabot suggested.

“It would be done over a four-year period, which means we can opt out at any time should anything dramatic happen to the economy,” said Throne-Holst, who added that the town could look to borrow as little as $30 million in the first year of the program.

Bridgehampton CAC resident Janice Delano said that from a financial perspective, Throne-Holst’s plan made sense given the current real estate market.

However, chairman Fred Cammann said he was wary of leveraging anything given the financial nightmare that emerged in 2007 and 2008 because financial institutions were doing just that.

Water Mill CAC Co-Chairman Steve Abramson countered that even the CPF architect, New York State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr. has advocated in favor of borrowing against the CPF, as has former Governor George Pataki.

“We know if we don’t spend it now to buy a certain amount of real estate in a few years we will spend the same money for less property,” said Abramson.

Delano added it wasn’t very long ago that she remembered the same people bristling at the concept at Monday night’s meeting supporting a similar idea just a few years back.

“In 2008, the world changed,” said Cammann.

Ultimately, Throne-Holst said, Kabot proposing a $50 million bond is more aggressive than the $30 million she hopes to bond for in the first year of what she sees as a long-term plan for CPF.

“This does not have any party affiliation tied to it,” she said. “This is a commitment to preserving the character and economic engine of our town, which is our environment. And that, in fact, is preserving property values in Southampton.”


Former Police Chief Settles with Sag Harbor Village

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Former Sag Harbor Village Police Chief Joseph Ialacci has dropped a $7 million lawsuit against the Village of Sag Harbor and its health insurance administrators and has agreed to pay $40,000 that should have been billed to Medicare rather than the village’s health insurance plan.

That money is being reimbursed to the village through Medicare, according to Sag Harbor Mayor Brian Gilbride.

According to village sources, Ialacci used his village health insurance to cover $70,000 in health care bills that the village maintains should have been covered through Ialacci’s Medicare insurance, which was his primary insurance at the time.

Ialacci’s attorneys maintained the situation was simply an oversight on the former police chief’s part, and that he was unaware Medicare was his primary insurance carrier, not the village.

During a Sag Harbor Village Board of Trustees meeting in late December of last year, the village board voted to drop Ialacci and his wife, Nancy, from village insurance after they said Ialacci failed to reimburse the village through Medicare for the alleged false charges.

In mid-January, the board of trustees re-instated Ialacci’s coverage retroactively to December, but in May, in an effort to protect his rights while the village investigated the situation, the former police chief filed a $7 million suit against the village and Island Group Administrators of East Hampton.

On Tuesday, October 11 at the Sag Harbor Village Board of Trustees meeting, Mayor Gilbride announced the village and Ialacci had reached a settlement.

According to the settlement agreement, Ialacci has agreed to pay $40,224 back to the Village of Sag Harbor. On Tuesday, Mayor Gilbride said a certified check is already in the hands of Ialacci’s attorney. In turn, the village will reimburse the family for any Medicare premiums paid by the Ialaccis for coverage for the remainder of his life, as per his contract with the village when he retired from his post as police chief.

Support for Peconic Bay Regional Transportation Authority

At a press conference on Monday, New York State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr. and Babylon Town Supervisor and Democratic candidate for the Suffolk County Executive position Steve Bellone announced their unified support for the Peconic Bay Regional Transportation Authority.

Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst and Southampton Town Councilwoman Bridget Fleming also attended the press conference, which took place at the Southampton Long Island Railroad (LIRR) station. Congressman Tim Bishop has also voiced his support for the creation of the authority, which would the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) on the East End of Long Island.

Suffolk County legislators Jay Schneiderman and Ed Romaine also support the implementation of the Peconic Bay Regional Transportation Authority.

Bellone has said enacting the authority will be one of his first goals if elected as the next Suffolk County Executive on November 8.

The Peconic Bay Regional Transportation Authority, according to a 2009 report from the Volpe National Transportation Systems Center, would use a coordinated shuttle train and passenger bus service to provide for the transportation needs of those on the East End of Long Island, which Thiele says spends millions of dollars to the MTA without reaping the benefits of comprehensive service.

Repairs Slated for Route 27

The New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) will repair several sections of State Route 27, also known as Montauk Highway, east of County Road 39 sometime in the next year, according to New York State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr.

According to a press release issued by Thiele on Tuesday afternoon, the NYSDOT responded to his request back in October that the agency address sections of Route 27 that are in dire need of repair.

They will repair eastbound sections of the roadway near Deerfield Road in Water Mill, at Sayre’s Path, Georgica Drive and Daniels Hole Road in Wainscott and at Hampton Place in East Hampton. The NYSDOT will also repair the westbound portion of Route 27 at Sayre’s Path.

“The DOT has again committed to undertake repair of NY 27 and will address the most egregious pavement sections on NY 27,” said Thiele. “While the orad must still by fully resurfaced as soon as possible, these repairs will at least make the journey safer and less bone rattling for the traveling public.”

Swimming Pool and Pool House Approved by Sag ARB

In one of their shorter sessions as of late, the Sag Harbor Village Historic Preservation and Architectural Review Board (ARB) approved one application during its Thursday, October 13 meeting, granting Mike Arena approval for the installation of a swimming pool and pool house at his 97 Glover Street residence.

A second application, for a solid cedar fence along the existing driveway of Robert Fishers’ Fishers Home Furnishings on Main Street was tabled as no one was present to make the case.

The Sag Harbor ARB’s next meeting is scheduled for Monday, October 24 at 5 p.m.

Marine Park Way is Now Veterans Way

Sag Harbor’s Marine Park will keep its name for now, but the roadway that circles the hallowed park on Bay Street will be renamed Veterans Way at the request of the Sag Harbor VFW Post 9082, according to a resolution adopted by the Sag Harbor Village Board of Trustees on Tuesday, October 11.

The roadway circles the expansive waterfront Marine Park, which holds a World War II memorial plaque dedicated to the men and women from Sag Harbor who served during that conflict, as well as memorials to service men and women who served during the Korean and Vietnam wars.

Groundbreaking for Sidewalks Turnpike Sidewalks

Suffolk County Legislator Jay Schneiderman will host a ground breaking for the construction and installation of sidewalks on the Bridgehampton-Sag Harbor Turnpike on Thursday, October 20 at 2 p.m. at the corner of Sunrise Avenue just south of the South Fork Natural History Museum.

The project was included in the Suffolk County 2011-2013 Capital Program. The Town of Southampton has contributed $100,000 to the cost.

The traffic and safety improvement, an issue Schneiderman championed as a legislator, will cover a two-mile stretch of sidewalk on the west side of the turnpike.

“The turnpike is used by many pedestrians including those who live in neighborhoods behind or along the route and is a major connector between the Village of Sag Harbor and the hamlet of Bridgehampton,” noted Schneiderman in a press release issued this week.

Bridgehampton CAC to Host 2012 Budget Talk

Just weeks before the 2011 election for Supervisor, incumbent Democratic Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst will pitch her proposed $80.3 million spending plan for 2012 in front of Bridgehampton residents at the Bridgehampton Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC) meeting on Monday at 7 p.m. at the Bridgehampton National Bank.

Throne-Holst’s proposed $80.3 million spending plan cuts the town budget by $1.3 million, resulting in a zero-percent tax levy increase while the town is facing over $5 million in mandated increases in costs to cover programs like health insurance and pensions.

In order to accomplish this goal, in part, Throne-Holst has proposed to eliminate 28 positions throughout the town, with eight of those positions coming directly out of the senior staff of the Southampton Town Police Department.

Throne-Holst has proposed to use the town’s ability to “separate from service” officers who have worked for the town for more than 20 years. Those officers will retain full benefits upon retirement, and Throne-Holst has said she will look at those who have served at least 25 years or more to achieve the $1.7 million in cuts she hopes to make within the police department’s budget.

Following Throne-Holst’s presentation, former Southampton Town Republican Supervisor Linda Kabot is slated to speak at 8 p.m. With Throne-Holst running unopposed this fall, Kabot has launched a write-in campaign to regain her seat at the helm of Southampton Town.

Agricultural Forum to be Held in Riverhead

The New York State Senate Agricultural Committee Chairwoman Patty Ritchie will host the third of three agricultural business forums on Thursday, October 20 at 1 p.m. in Riverhead Town Hall.

According to a press release issued by the Long Island Farmers Bureau, the forum will focus on how to make New York State a better place for farmers to do business.

Farmers who cannot attend during the tail end of the harvest season are encouraged to submit their comments to the New York Senate Agricultural Committee by calling 518-455-3438.




Mecox Yacht Club Expected to Move Forward

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On Wednesday night, the Southampton Town Conservation Board is expected to approve plans for the development of the Mecox Yacht Club. According to Bridgehampton resident Jeffrey Mansfield the Mecox Sailing Association could be given license to run the facility by the Southampton Town Board as early as September 13.

During a Bridgehampton Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC) meeting on Monday night, Mansfield said that “all indications are we should get the permit” from the conservation board on Wednesday night. The Mecox Sailing Association received its wetlands permit from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation this past June, meaning all that would stand in the way of the yacht club’s future would be an agreement with the town board to allow the sailing association to operate the club at the end of Bay Lane in Water Mill.

If successful in front of the conservation board, Mansfield said he expects there will be a public hearing on the proposal during a town board work session on September 9 where the sailing association will make its pitch. Also expected to attend that meeting are a group of neighbors who have opposed the plan. Theoretically, said Mansfield, if the town board supports the proposal despite neighbors opposition, it could sign off on a license agreement as early as its September 13 meeting.

That would end a years long effort by a group of Bridgehampton residents to resurrect public sailing at the site, for all residents of Southampton Town. The sailing association plans are limited in scope. Members hope to provide sailing instruction to Southampton Town youth at the site, which now hosts a dilapidated building hidden amongst the reeds, as well as a place to store sailboats and equipment.

However, residents have expressed concerns over an increase in traffic as a result of the yacht club, as well as restricted access to the beach, which sailing association members contend would not occur if they are approved to run the yacht club.

The proposal has long had the support of the Bridgehampton CAC, as well as the Bridgehampton Historical Society and the Water Mill CAC.

“You have done a yeoman’s job here in trying to serve the kids of Southampton,” said CAC member Steve Steinberg to Mansfield on Monday evening.

“We probably wouldn’t have hung around so long if we didn’t think it was such a good thing,” said Mansfield. “It looks like this may happen sooner rather than later.”

Town board member Nancy Grabowski, a Bridgehampton resident who sat in on the meeting, said the yacht club proposal dates back close to a decade, noting its approval is “a long time coming.”

Mansfield added that at a time when more and more waterfront access denied to East End residents, he sees the creation of the yacht club — which will not require expensive dues and will provide equipment for residents who cannot afford their own sailboat ­— critical to continuing the historic connection to the water that residents have cherished for generations.

“This is a change to promote and preserve sailing on Mecox Bay for years to come,” said Mansfield.

CMEE Begins to Develop Plans for Walking Trails

On Monday night, Children’s Museum of the East End (CMEE) Executive Director and CAC member Steve Long announced tentative plans to create two walking trails north of the museum on land the organization already owns.

According to Long, the goal is to connect the children who visit CMEE to the natural diversity of the East End and in particular provide them an educational resource focused on the wonders of the Peconic Estuary.

The museum plans to partner with Group for the East End as well as the Southampton Trails Preservation Society in developing the venture.

After working with Southampton Town officials, Long showed two trails — one 700-feet and another 1500-feet — stretching to the northeast and northwest off an existing boardwalk that connects the parking lot with the museum.

While they may seem like short trails, Long added that for young children, a 700-foot trail is not a short distance to hike. The museum would work with Group for the East End to create markers identifying important aspects of the natural world for children to learn as they traverse the trails, he added.

Long said he would like to see the paths made wheelchair — and therefore stroller — accessible.

Long said the museum has already received a Peconic Estuary grant for the educational aspects of the trail and is working with the East Hampton and Southampton Garden Clubs to apply for a $25,000 grant to kick-start the trail system development.

The museum is looking at possibly building a boardwalk for the trail or using FilterPave, a porous pavement made entirely of 100-percent post consumer recycled glass.

The only drawback to FilterPave, which was suggested by Group for the East End, is while it allows light and rain to filter through the material, it would have to be situated on the ground and not in on an elevated boardwalk.

“As I said, this is still very much in the idea stage,” said Long, who noted there is an existing conservation easement on the trail land in question and the museum would need town approval to move forward.

“But before we started that process, we want to talk to people in the community, talk about what you think about the idea and how we can improve it,” said Long.

Mansfield said at places like the Elizabeth A. Morton Wildlife Refuge, his young children particularly enjoy the boardwalk paths elevated over wetland areas and streams. The boardwalk, he added, gives the small children a height advantage from which to view nature.

CAC member Ian MacPherson also wondered if the museum could form a partnership with the South Fork Natural History Museum, its neighbor across the Bridgehampton/Sag Harbor Turnpike which has property that connects to the trail system of the Long Pond Greenbelt.

Long said that was certainly the hope, and the museum has been waiting on Suffolk County to finish a sidewalk project on the turnpike that will include a crosswalk connecting the organizations, and eventually, its trails.