After four years of delay and review, T.J. Maxx’s plan to expand the rear of its 33,000-square-foot store in Kimco Realty’s Bridgehampton Commons mall by 17,000 square feet to create space for a Marshalls or similar retail store cleared its last major procedural hurdle on Thursday, February 14, when the Southampton Town Planning Board voted 7-0 to grant it conditional site plan approval.
Marshalls is an off-price department store chain owned by TJX Companies Inc., the parent company of T.J. Maxx. The two stores will share common areas in the new space. Among the board’s conditions are a covenant from Kimco to be tied to the property guaranteeing that any future tenant will offer similar product lines so that the amount of traffic it would generate wouldn’t be likely to increase.
During its environmental review of the proposal, the Planning Board accepted a traffic study that predicted no major impacts and declared that the overall project would have no significant effect on the environment.
Before Planning Board Chairman Dennis Finnerty signs off on the site plan, a “land bank” covenant also will be required from Kimco guaranteeing the availability of space elsewhere on Kimco’s property to provide more parking if it becomes necessary in the future. The current site plan calls for 97 more spaces behind the existing T. J. Maxx store
The board’s chief concern on February 12, as it reviewed a draft decision prepared by Southampton Town’s principal planner Clare Vail, was how to discourage drivers who want to head east on Montauk Highway or Route 27 from exiting the parking area onto Snake Hollow Road. The road’s intersection with Route 27 is uncontrolled and left turns across heavy traffic can be perilous.
They agreed to Ms. Vail’s suggestion that the simplest solution would be a single sign at the Snake Hollow Road exit indicating a right turn with the words “27 West Only.” Legally, however, there would be no prohibition against making a left onto the highway from Snake Hollow Road.
Signage inside the Commons parking system will encourage drivers to use the main entrance, which has a traffic light, to make left turns on Route 27, a policy strongly advocated by board member Jacqui Lofaro, a Bridgehampton resident who said she was familiar with the perils of left turns onto the highway from the Commons.
Board members agreed to write into the conditions of approval T. J. Maxx’s local attorney Timothy S. McCulley’s offer to meet with the board after one year to review how well the signage and traffic plan is working and make adjustments as necessary.
The planners approved the plan after a public hearing last fall at which only three people spoke, including only one critic, Pamela Harwood, the chair of the Bridgehampton Citizens Advisory Committee, which has opposed the proposal as likely to choke the hamlet with traffic and pollute groundwater.