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Southampton Planning Board finds Marshalls store poses no environmental harm

A new Marshalls store is one step closer to opening in the Hamptons after the Southampton Town Planning Board found it would pose “no environmental issues” to the surrounding area.

Kimco Realty, which owns the Bridgehampton Commons shopping complex, submitted plans in 2017 to build a 17,000-square-foot expansion on the eastern portion of the Montauk Highway property. The new space would supplement an existing 30,000-square-foot T.J. Maxx store. Both brands are owned by parent company TJX Companies Inc.

The town planning board voted 6-0 with one abstention at its Aug. 23 meeting to issue a negative declaration on the project, meaning it will not need an extensive environmental review to move forward. It will, however, need a variance from the town zoning board of appeals and then final site plan approval from the planning board.

The additional store space was not seen as a further burden on the environment because the stores attract the same clientele, said planning board chairman Dennis Finnerty.

“The question was whether expanding and installing a new Marshalls store would constitute a new destination or be viewed more as an expansion,” he said. “The two stores sell a very similar product.”

Still, members of the Bridgehampton Citizen Advisory Committee, a town-appointed community group, expressed fears the development could impact groundwater and snarl traffic. Members said they may protest the proposal as it moves through the review process.

“I don’t see how the environmental review can say how 17,000 square feet of expansion will not impact the groundwater,” said CAC chair Pamela Harwood, reported. “A lot of people will be coming to this from Sag Harbor, which means all of the back roads will be backed up.”

The planning board has also issued Kimco a parking waiver, permitting the company to “bank” parking spaces, which allows the developer to demonstrate the need for additional parking stalls for future expansion.

The board’s approval also states that if more than 25 percent of the Marshalls space ceases to be occupied by the retailer, then the storefront’s tenant must be replaced by one that is “compatible” with other nearby shops.

“There is a need for retail space in the Hamptons,” Finnerty said. “People often have to hit the clogged roads to Riverhead or points west to shop.”

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