A wave of building is coming, and in some locations in East Hampton Town, we haven't seen the like. Large-scale plans to redevelop commercial properties in Wainscott, Sag Harbor, East Hampton Village, and Amagansett are at different steps on the path to necessary approvals. Residents and visitors alike may not be happy with the cumulative changes these and other proposals represent and they need to put maximum pressure on elected officials to put community before profits. And the owners of small businesses on the South Fork, too, should be wary of projects that, when completed, would gobble up scarce resources including parking and workers.
Among the high-profile locations now under discussion is the so-called Wainscott Pit, where a sand mine, cement plant, masonry supply yard, and other operations have been based. On the table now is a 50-lot commercial subdivision that could also house limited industrial uses. To get a sense of the size, if built, the complex would require close to 900 new parking spaces. Traffic through Wainscott, which is already at a crisis level, would get significantly worse. There are environmental concerns, too, given the 70-acre site's proximity to Georgica Pond.
In Amagansett, a redevelopment proposal has come in for 136 Main Street, where One-Stop Pet Shop and a number of other small businesses are tenants. More than 11,000 square feet of new building could rise there, coming within a fraction of the maximum coverage allowed. Amusingly, or not, one of the renderings that the developer provided showed a Starbucks coffee shop taking a prime corner location. The East Hampton Town Planning Board was to have its first formal look at the application last night.
There is no end to the big ideas, as in Sag Harbor, where a city-scale project has been proposed with apartments over stores. Dwarfing the Amagansett proposal, this one would have more than 34,000 square feet of retail space. Both projects' backers have draped their plans with promises of affordable housing. The question is whether the addition of rent-regulated apartments in either location would offset their obvious negatives.
Officials have a lot to do in sorting out the good from the bad. They should take all the time they need and not be rushed into decisions that could have long-lasting consequences.