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Southampton board OKs environmental report on Canoe Place Inn

Town supervisor says the board could vote to proceed with the project to renovate the historic hotel in Hampton Bays as early as Dec. 21.

The Canoe Place Inn in Hampton Bays on

The Canoe Place Inn in Hampton Bays on Dec. 18, 2014. Photo Credit: Randee Daddona

A development proposal to renovate a historic hotel in Hampton Bays into a 20-unit inn, 70-seat restaurant and catering facility has cleared an environmental vote regarding the project and awaits another key vote later this month.

The Southampton Town Board voted 5-0 at its Dec. 7 special town board meeting to accept and deem complete the final supplemental environmental impact statement related to the environmental review for the Canoe Place Inn, Canal and Eastern Properties Maritime Planned Development District.

The board will have 10 days to review the document before voting whether to go forward with the development. Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman said Friday that the soonest the board is likely to vote on the project would be Dec. 21, at a possible special board meeting, which has not yet been scheduled on the town’s website.

R Squared Development LLC in Plainview, the sister company of Melville-based developer Rechler Equity Partners, is proposing the creation of a Maritime Planned Development District to clear the way for renovating the historic Canoe Place Inn building, once a hot spot in Hampton Bays that attracted politicians and celebrities.

The board votes Tuesday on whether to extend the expiration of the development district’s approval, which is set to expire Jan. 21, by two years. Jim Morgo, a consultant for the Rechlers on the project, said Sunday while work has already started on the property, the Tuesday vote would allow the work to continue.

According to town code, Maritime PDDs are designed to “provide flexible residential and/or commercial development with predominantly water-dependent or water-enhanced uses, while maximizing the preservation of natural vegetation and resources.”

The Canoe Place Inn would be renovated to serve as an inn with a 350-person catering facility, restaurant with a 20-seat bar area and 120-seat outdoor seating, and five renovated cottages for extended stays. Roughly 37 town houses would also be built, along with a 1,900-square-foot clubhouse/amenity building, pool and private marina along the Shinnecock Canal.

A group of neighbors sued the town in 2015 over the board’s 2014 vote to create the development district, claiming the district was inconsistent with the town’s comprehensive plan and alleging the town board failed to comply with state environmental requirements addressing areas of concern at the site.

A May decision by State Supreme Court Judge Mark D. Cohen ruled in favor of Southampton, but required the town to examine the site’s water supply and fire flow issues — or the water available for fire-protection purposes — in the final environmental impact statement.

Once those issues have been addressed, the town’s Health Department can issue a permit for a sanitation system at the property, which will clear the way for the town to issue a construction permit allowing the developer to create the buildings, Schneiderman said.

The Dec. 7 resolution states the board found the environmental report “adequately responds to comments and will facilitate the preparation of findings related to the water supply/fire flow” for the development.

Maria Hults, a Hampton Bays resident, said at the Dec. 7 meeting that she and other neighbors were “very concerned” regarding contamination issues from tanks on the property — which belonged to a now-defunct gas station — and were not convinced all environmental issues had been addressed.

Charles Voorhis, managing partner of Melville environmental planning firm Nelson, Pope and Voorhis, which authored the draft and final environmental impact statements for the project, said that there was information on the tanks previously included in the draft impact statement and that the tanks’ removal is being handled by the state Department of Environmental Conservation.

“The process of what was going to take place during construction was outlined in the draft EIS and is proceeding along those lines, so we’re completely consistent with what was expected,” Voorhis said.

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