June 21, 2006

Resort Rezone: No Banks, Please

A bank at the site would be "a disaster," according to East Hampton Town Councilwoman Deb Foster. During a hearing on the proposed rezoning of the Resort restaurant and nightclub property on Three Mile Harbor Road in East Hampton, Foster was adamant. She would not vote in favor of the request unless the applicants promised never to sell out to a bank.

For well over a year, the applicants, Cilvan Realty, have sought a change of zone at the East Hampton locale. Currently under a commercial industrial zoning designation, the nightclub and restaurant is a pre-existing non-conforming use. A change to neighborhood business would offer a better variety of options for future redevelopment.

In return for the rezoning, Resort's reps, Rick Whalen of the consulting firm Land Marks and attorney Stuyvesant Wainwright related a promise to discontinue the current nightclub use. For years, residents in the surrounding neighborhood have complained of the popular club's impact on their quality of life.

Under current zoning a nightclub is a special permit use in the existing CI district. With current conditions exceeding permitted coverage requirements while falling far beneath parking requirements, it is unlikely a new or redeveloped club would be permitted there. That in mind, during the hearing last Thursday night, Supervisor Bill McGintee wondered what, exactly, would be the town's benefit if a rezoning were approved. Another club wouldn't be allowed there anyway, so the negotiation point appeared to lack appeal for the supervisor.

Still, the permitted uses at a rezoned site would be less onerous than what's allowed in a CI zone as long as it's not a bank, Foster emphasized. Referencing traffic figures derived using an industry standard, the councilwoman said a bank on the property could add 1000 trips per day to the area. While even Councilman Pete Hammerle rebuked the trip generation figures as "bonkers," it was acknowledged that past efforts to locate a bank in the North Main Street area have failed because of neighborhood outcry.

Cilvan Realty is uncertain what use might replace Resort, and has yet to decide, Whalen informed. However, he reminded that other banks in the area, such as one on Newtown Lane in the village and a second on the corner of Spring Close Highway and Montauk Highway were also subject to neighborhood outcry. "And they're mellow," Hammerle pointed out. Foster expressed a willingness to revisit a traffic report that uses figures from local institutions, rather than national data. Additionally board members still want to take a look at the potential impact of other uses that would be permitted on the site if the rezone were adopted.

In other business last week, Springs resident Susan Harder asked the board to find a different locale for a proposed baseball field. A vote on the construction of a field on property at Springs School recently passed by a narrow margin. According to Harder, the slim victory could indicate that residents of the hamlet would prefer an alternate location to a plan that would entail cutting down acres of woods at the back of school property.

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