By Marianna Levine
There was a lot on the Bridgehampton Citizen’s Advisory Committee’s agenda this past Monday night, but the bulk of the evening focused on plans for a 22 room hotel and wellness center at the intersection of the Bridgehampton -Sag Harbor Turnpike and Montauk Highway. The Orchard at Bull’s Head Inn would renovate the old Bull’s Head Inn at that intersection and add four new cottages and a parking lot. The historic barn behind the inn would also be renovated and incorporated into the high-end resort.
Opinion on the proposed development was decidedly mixed, as it has been in other recent meetings. Phillip Cammann, a neighbor of the property, and son of CAC chair Fred Cammann made a presentation on the proposed development, displaying the site plans and architectual renderings for all to review. Jeremy Samuelson from the Group for the East End also attended the meeting and expressed, “concern that the size and scale of the project goes above and beyond what is appropriate for the first parcel of land.” He referred to the second parcel of land right behind the Bull’s Head Inn, which will also be used in the development, as a residential parcel that will be used as overflow from what is already “too big” a project on the first parcel.
An audience member suggested that “the scale is related to the economic viability of the project,” and he didn’t understand why people were objecting when that intersection “has been a disaster and disgrace for over forty years.”
“Bill Campbell (the Bull’s Head Inn’s owner) has gone to great lengths to preserve and save the building, and I think that corner is essential to the beauty of the town,” said the speaker. “I understand people living around it are very upset but when you think about it the Bridge-Sag turnpike is a very commercial thoroughfare.”
Another neighbor Leonard Davenport, who lives two doors down from the project added, “We need to come together as a group and say that this corner is the most important corner of Bridgehampton. The owner is probably not going to make a great deal of money from this but he does need to make something for his effort in preserving these buildings.” (Existing property at left)
Attorney David Gilmartin, who represents the owner of the development, was present. He had actually come to observe the discussion by the CAC about another matter, however he agreed to answer questions concerning the Bull’s Head Inn. He explained the second parcel of land was a “preexisting non-conforming use” lot, and the owner was permitted to make an application for the use of that land as part of the hotel complex.
Gilmartin also addressed several CAC members’ concerns about the new cottage’s architecture. Several CAC members were upset by their modern appearance. He said the project’s architects had advised the developer “to make the cabins more modern so as not to take away from the historic building in the front.” He then stressed, “Mr. Campbell doesn’t want the community to be upset with his building, but you have to come to us with specifics about the size and scale of the project. I think if you look at the plans you will see that the scale is not that large. We’re open to having this discussion. We can come and make a presentation if you like.” To which the CAC chair forcefully responded, “We’re not interested in your presenting this project again!”
Fred Cammann then explained that Gilmartin was actually there to discuss the gunnite plant behind Agway in Bridgehampton since he represents the surrounding neighbors. Apparently the owner of the property had built a cement plant without planning permission, and had been placed under a court order not to continue operating the plant until the next hearing on this property on March 19. Gilmartin explained he had only been allowed to park trucks there but apparently he had been recently video taped conducting other business on the site.
In other CAC business, Louis and Ari Miesel had been invited to give a builder’s perspective on property development in eastern Long Island. Their focus has been on developing office space along Montauk Highway. However, they have included affordable apartments within their buildings for people such as teachers, firefighters, and police officers who are often priced out of housing on the East End. Currently they are developing a piece of property in Water Mill next to Hampton Coffee.
Ari Miesel explained that this project had been delayed for about two years primarily because they believe in building green buildings. They follow the LEED standards, which are a higher green building standard than what is currently written in the town codes.Â Often times what the town requires, such as asphalt parking lots for office buildings, runs counter to parking lots that use greener building substances such as crushed peat stone. Ari Miesel noted the town’s codes are probably about ten years out of date and the public and town need to realize that “green building is not a fad but the future.” He also wanted to inform the CAC “green building goes hand in hand with historic preservation.”
Southampton councilwoman Nancy Graboski attended the CAC meeting and responded enthusiastically to the suggestions stating, “this is music to my ears.” She added supervisorÂ Linda Kabot, councilwoman Anna Thorne-Holst, and herself have started a committee “Sustainable Southampton” to address these issues. She suggested people need to be better educated on the subject and invited Ari Miesel to talk to “Sustainable Southampton” and also suggested his joining the Southampton Business Alliance.
After a long meeting Jeffery Vogel quickly wrapped things up by giving an update on the CAC’s revised hamlet study. He displayed a map of the hamlet’s current boundaries. The final revision wouldn’t be ready until March; however he wanted to show the CAC there seemed to be a problem with the southwestern boundary between Water Mill and Bridgehampton. Mr. Vogel suggested most people who live south of the highway but east of Mecox Bay consider themselves to live in Bridgehampton. Yet, the current hamlet map has them living in Water Mill.Â