Downtown Montauk Plan Almost Gets Nod

It isn’t usual for the East Hampton Town Planning Board to actually welcome an application for site plan review of commercial construction, but that was the reaction on June 11 when a proposal for a two-story building in the downtown area of Montauk came up. Two other site plan applications also were on the agenda, and in those cases the board called for more narrative.

The Montauk application was submitted by Peter A. Kazura, who plans a two-story building with a single business on the first floor and a two-bedroom affordable apartment on the second. The property is one of five undeveloped  rectangular lots on the north side of South Euclid Avenue. The lots are on one of the last undeveloped commercial blocks in the hamlet. The lot in question is 4,100 square feet. The building would be constructed in Tudor style, something Nancy Keeshan, a member of the board who has a real estate business in downtown Montauk, applauded.

The plan, including the apartment, which would require a special permit, was welcomed by the board, although there was a hitch when they heard a report about the plan for parking from JoAnne Pahwul, assistant town planning director. The problem, she said, is that an adjacent property already has site plan approval with a totally different configuration for parking. She suggested that the sidewalks between the parcels  be better aligned and the parking spaces on the Kazura lot pulled farther back into the right of way. The board agreed that the parking plans needed to be modified before Mr. Kazura’s next go-round in front of the board.The review of East Hampton property at 79 Spring Close Highway, which is the title of the limited liability company that owns it, brought up groundwater questions. Slightly under an acre, the property is the site of Spring Close Antiques and Restorations, which is seeking a 245-square-foot greenhouse, concrete slabs around its workshop, and to add parking. Access is via a long strip of land running parallel to the Long Island Rail Road tracks, with the entrance on Spring Close Highway. The site is unique in being zoned for commercial-industrial use, whereas all the other properties in the area are residential. The owner’s representative, Britton Bistrian, told the board that the workshop had been there over 100 years.

In a memo to the board, Thomas D. Talmage, the town engineer, expressed skepticism about elements of the initial plan. One question was about groundwater, which is apparently only 2.3 feet beneath the surface. This would hamper any effort to put in a septic system, he noted. “I do not find the engineering elements to be satisfactory,” Mr. Talmage wrote.

Ms. Bistrian countered that Mr. Talmage was referring to water trapped between the surface and a thick clay deposit. Pat Schutte, a board member, agreed. Mr. Schutte, a builder, said he had worked on a nearby house. “The first two feet were muck. The next eight feet were real pottery clay. You couldn’t drive a truck on it. It was like ten feet down. When you got through it, it was fine. Sand. But it is fine. It is just trap?ped water.”

Overall, the board expressed a desire to see a narrative on the uses of the site, and one that would address Mr. Talmage’s concerns about parking and other issues as well as groundwater. Diana Weir, a board member, said nearby wetlands needed to be reflagged, and another member, Reed Jones, noted that no additional landscaping would be needed. “It is really tucked away back there.”

The second initial site plan review that night was for a storage shed on land also zoned for commercial industrial use, 14 Plank Road in a water recharge area. The site is home to Paul Consiglio Contracting. According to a memo from Eric Schantz of the East Hampton Town Planning Department, the company wants to legalize an existing 275-square-foot shed on a 6,480-square-foot parcel. In this case, however, surrounding properties are similarly zoned. Nevertheless, Mr. Schantz noted that the applicants had “not stated the nature of the intended use of the storage shed.” The board agreed, asking the owners to produce a narrative that explains the use.

The board also discussed changes to the town code regarding exterior lighting, which have been proposed by the town board. A public hearing on it had been held on June 5, and board members expressed some confusion about why they were being asked to weigh in on the matter after the hearing had been held. In the end, the board agreed to support most of the proposed legislation except a clause that calls for a range of color temperatures. They expressed the belief that 3,000 Kelvins should be the maximum.