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July 6th, 2005

Box-Busters

by Kathryn Szoka

Box-Busters is a group of local merchants, community groups, and concerned citizens joining forces to encourage Southampton Town officials to support local businesses and the town’s superstore legislation. Box-Busters are currently focused on proposed plans for a superstore in Bridgehampton. Barnes & Noble wants to build on property that does not permit a bookstore in the current zoning. Town officials claim the national chain is threatening to sue the town if it doesn’t let them build a 27,000sf superstore.

However, the Southampton Town superstore legislation has a maximum of 15,000sf for?Ǭ abuilding or a building complex. The town’s Planning Department, working with the developers, has proposed a plan with a 27,000sf superstore in a complex of three clustered buildings-clearly a violation of the law.

On March 4th, the Box-Busters held a press conference to let the public know that the Bridgehampton Gateway MUPDD process has been flawed from the start and needs to begin again (Mixed Use Planned Development District). We called for the Town Board to include more diverse representation on the advisory committee and to hold extensive community brainstorming sessions.

Councilperson Dennis Suskind acknowledged the Ad-Hoc Advisory Committee had not even seen the plan presented to the Town Board on March 4th, nor had the committee met since July, even though the Planning Department continued to work with the landowners on the plan. These details drive home the fact that public input is neither aggressively sought nor heavily-weighted in the planning process. Rather, developer pressures seem to set the agenda and influence the outcome.

A worthwhile Box-Busters event is the screening of the film “Talking to the Wall,” by Long Island native Steve Alves. This documentary, shows how a small town battles with a national chain (in this case, Wal-Mart). Anyone interested in joining Box-Busters can email info@caniosbooks.com or call 631-725-1149.

Filed Under: Articles | Politics | the Hamptons

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