Southampton Town officials have approved a draft economic revitalization plan for Riverside hamlet that would allow property owners to opt into new zoning designations for the area.

Town board members voted 5-0 Tuesday to start an environmental review of the "Riverside Rediscovered Action Plan" submitted in April by Renaissance Downtowns LLC, the Plainview firm selected last year as the master developer of the project.

Southampton officials have said they hope new zoning in Riverside could transform the hamlet from the poorest and most blighted part of the East End into a bustling gateway to both the South Fork and North Fork.

The developer's plan recommends zoning that would allow a walkable hamlet center including mixed-use buildings with stores and apartments. It also calls for a pedestrian bridge over the Peconic River and waterfront parkland.

Property owners will have the option to apply the new zoning to their parcels, but won't be forced to, town officials have said. Renaissance representatives wrote in the plan that they believe property owners will opt in over time because the zoning will provide new and profitable options for development.

"The commercial and economic development and job creation that this is going to spur is significant, not to mention expanding the tax base, particularly for the region of the town that needs it," Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst said Wednesday.

Renaissance representatives spent nine months gathering input from residents before submitting the plan.

"We're excited that it's moving forward," said Siris Barrios, Renaissance's community liaison for the project.

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