Planning Board Moves Forward With Environmental Review Of Proposed Fitness Facility In Bridgehampton

Southampton Town Planning Board member Robin Long. VALERIE GORDON

The Southampton Town Planning Board is moving forward with an environmental review of a proposal to build a 27,000-square-foot Equinox fitness and health facility along Montauk Highway in Bridgehampton.

The project is currently before both the Planning Board and Zoning Board of Appeals — the latter of which is presently tasked with determining whether to approve four variances that would pave the way for the developer, Carol Konner, to build a cluster of properties totaling 13 acres across from the Bridgehampton Commons.

Over several years, the project has garnered fierce opposition from residents concerned over the development’s impact on the community’s character, environment and traffic — all of which will be addressed in an environmental impact statement.

On Thursday, August 8, the Planning Board unanimously approved the final scope of review, as required under the State Environmental Quality Review Act, which detailed various aspects of the proposal that would need to be analyzed in order to ultimately approve the project.

The traffic study will analyze the existing traffic patterns within a one-mile radius of the proposed fitness facility and predict the anticipated increase in traffic at several intersections, both with and without traffic signals.

Southampton Town Planner Claire Shea and Southampton Town Planning Board Co-Chairman Dennis Finnerty discuss the final scope on Thursday. VALERIE GORDON

The initial scoping document, prepared by Southampton Town Planner Claire Shea, also required that the developer study the impact the complex would have on East Hampton traffic, which she identified as a “major concern,” as indicated by several letters from the public.

However, after objections from Ms. Konner’s attorney, John Bennett of Southampton-based Bennett & Read, the Planning Board agreed to remove it from the scope.

“Why am I studying the impact on traffic on a town that is seven miles away?” Mr. Bennett asked the board on Thursday. “I don’t think that’s reasonable. Why not say what the impact is on the Belt Parkway?”

Mr. Bennett was also successful in eliminating Ms. Shea’s recommendation to require the installation of monitoring wells near Kellis Pond, which, according to the State Department of Environmental Conservation, is a “critical environmental area.” In recent years, the pond was found to contain harmful cyanobacteria blooms — commonly known as blue-green algae.

A similar recommendation was required as part of a previous — now complete — planned development district application known as The Bridge Golf Club on Millstone Road in Bridgehampton, according to Assistant Town Attorney Kathleen Murray.
Under the revised scope, the developer is still required to analyze any potential effects the development may have on Kellis Pond, but is not required to dig monitoring wells.
“The integrity of that pond has been spoken about a lot by the community,” Planning Board member Robin Long said.
Within 45 days of the completion of the draft environmental impact statement, the Planning Board is required to adopt a findings statement and hold another public hearing before deeming the application complete.