Tuckahoe Center proposal moves forward

The intersection of County Road 39 and Magee The intersection of County Road 39 and Magee Street in Southampton, near where there is a proposal to build a new King Kullen shopping complex. (June 19, 2012) Photo Credit: Photo by Gordon M. Grant

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Plans for a proposed supermarket and attached strip mall took a step forward recently -- after two years on the drawing board -- when the Southampton Town Board approved allowing the developer to submit a formal application, angering residents who think the development is too big for the spot.

The project, a 40,000-square-foot King Kullen supermarket and 15,000 square feet of retail space, including a drive-thru bank, has been proposed on the southwest corner of County Road 39 and Magee Street. It's on a confluence of lots whose owners have agreed with Southampton Venture Llc, whose principal owner is Robert Morrow, to support the project.

The town would have to approve a zone change for the area, from highway business and residential to shopping center business.

Residents have come out for and against the proposed Tuckahoe Center, which would be positioned on a four-lane highway, on the only road into Southampton and points east, which in summer months can be heavily congested.

Frances Genovese, president of the Association of Southampton Neighborhoods, opposes the project, in part because a Waldbaum's is two miles away in Southampton Village, and King Kullens are about eight miles to the east in Bridgehampton and to the west in Hampton Bays. She and others worry that cars entering and exiting County Road 39 at that point would create more traffic headaches.

"They are constantly waiving their own zoning," she said of the town board. "The highway zoning is meant to calm the traffic, not put in a high generating use."

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Others concurred, saying traffic concerns, and erosion of quality of life for nearby residents, are not worth having another supermarket. It also would take business from smaller markets, which count on weekenders to make a profit in the summer, opponents say.

Those who spoke in support of the project cited a need for better shopping closer to home.

"Informally asking around, most people want this," Scott Armusewicz said. "I can honestly say the majority of the community is for this project."

Southampton Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst said a road study will be completed in two months; and a formal application would allow for traffic studies and other needed information before a decision, she said. "It is very wrong to say that any minds have been made up here," she said.

Councilwoman Bridget Fleming was the only board member of five to vote no, saying it was inappropriate for the site.

But James Johnston, director of Real Estate for King Kullen Grocery Co. Inc., said, "Because the need exists for a full-service, modern supermarket in the area, we hope plans move forward for the Tuckahoe Center."

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