Greenport’s controversial moratorium hampers new development


Erik Warner thought all was well with his company’s plans to develop a 22-room boutique hotel in the heart of Greenport.

In March 2022, Warner Company Eagle Point Hotel Partners submitted a site planning application to the village of Greenport to convert a single-story retail building on the corner of Front and Main into a three-story inn. submitted.

After some talks, village officials voiced their concerns about traffic and parking and asked the developer to conduct a traffic and parking study for a $7 million project aimed at alleviating fears. And then one day last summer the discussion stopped.

ERIK WARNER: “I am very frustrated because I participated in this with good intentions.”

“We have fully answered their concerns and have waited several months for them to respond,” said David, an attorney at the Bridgehampton office of Greenberg Traurig Law Firm representing the project. Gilmartin said, “We have asked to be on the Planning Commission’s hearing calendar, but it has not yet been implemented.”

Instead, the village board voted in December to enact an administrative moratorium to halt development in three of Greenport’s commercial districts.

The move was a blow to Warner and his Manhattan-based company’s plans to expand its Greenport operations. Eagle Point also owns the 55-room Soundview Inn and the 35-room Harbourfront Hotel. Warner says it has invested more than $12 million in facility improvements in recent years.

“I am very frustrated because I participated in this with good intentions,” Warner told LIBN. Because when people come and stay with us, they go out to the village and spend a lot of money.”

According to the resolution that established the moratorium, the village will stop construction of buildings in its commercial districts and “initiate a local Waterfront Reclamation Plan (LWRP) to prepare for future orderly and controlled development” and land use. We will set aside time to update the regulations. It is to plan the right mix of residential and commercial development in the village, growth without undue impact on public welfare, community services, schools and infrastructure, protection and protection of commercial waterfronts. ”

Covering just one square mile with about 2,000 residents, Greenport has a vibrant commercial fishing industry, but tourism and hospitality are the main economic drivers of its downtown and waterfront. The village’s LWRP was last updated in 2014, but the updated version was never officially approved by the state.

George Hubbard: “I was about to change the zoning code and was going to do that first before going to the moratorium.”

Greenport Mayor George Hubbard said, “The moratorium has been debated and brought up several times over the course of 10 months or a year, but before going to the moratorium, they changed the zoning code and were the first to do it. Therefore, it was never enacted.” After serving as deputy mayor for eight years, he has been mayor since 2015. “Then in November a group came and submitted a petition that gathered 200 signatures of local residents and business owners, said that the site had been bought and there was more land before it was overwhelmed by development. said that this planning document needs to be updated, they don’t want to invest in the village and they don’t want people to build four or five storey buildings and suddenly lose the character of the village. It was.”

However, upon reviewing the moratorium, the Suffolk County Planning Commission staff report found that the proposed six-month moratorium (with possible extensions of two or three months) was justified by the village’s findings. and found no data to support it. There is a claim that “the trend of increasing demand is increasing in the development of various uses in the commercial district of the village”.

The report said the moratorium was based on an “unrealistic timeframe that included the establishment of the committee, public hearings, and the updating and revision of two village plans and multiple sections of the village code.” Planning Commission staff also noted that there were no urgent specific findings confirming the need for a moratorium, and that the village law would impose a burden on property rights. I mentioned that I haven’t discussed lesser alternatives.

KEVIN STUESSI: “I’ve been listening to the mayor talk at board meetings for years, but I haven’t seen any action.”

Kevin Stussi, who spearheaded the petition and collected signatures from Greenport residents and business owners in support of the moratorium, noted that the county planning commission staff’s report raised several objections, particularly regarding the moratorium time frame. Accurate and recent Waterfront Advisory Board of which he is a member.

For Stuessi, a candidate for mayor in next month’s village elections, the moratorium on development is a key issue for his platform, according to his campaign website. He said the village administrator’s failure to update its zoning code prompted him to get involved.

“After several years of hearing the mayor talk to the board, I saw no action,” Stuessi said. I thought it was time to get it done, and we did.”

As a former vice president of a Manhattan-based affiliate, working on the Hudson Yards project and many others, Stessi’s support for an architectural moratorium seems to run counter to his career.

“I’ve had a development career, so I’m probably one of the least likely people to say something like this,” he said.

But Stuessi said Greenport needs a moratorium now because “some major properties have been put up for sale in the center of the village and the village has not done anything about updating our zoning code.” I claim there is. He added that there have been several attempts to update the zoning, but “each attempt remains unresolved, with more being able for developers to step in and do something that doesn’t make sense in the village.” It created a loophole for

RICHARD VANDENBURGH: “You need to have a comprehensive plan, but don’t panic or overreact.”

One of the locals opposing the moratorium is Richard Vandenberg, owner of Greenport Harbor Brewing Company and president of the Greenport Business Improvement District. Vandenberg, who is running for mayor against Stussy and incumbent Hubbard, needs to update the village’s zoning code and waterfront plans, while the moratorium will ultimately hurt business and economic growth. says it would.

“I agree that we need to develop a comprehensive plan, but we shouldn’t panic or overreact. With a full-blown moratorium, it’s the little guy who messes up.” “It’s a lazy government,” Vandenberg said.

In an email sent to Greenport stakeholders and residents last month, Vandenberg called the moratorium a “drastic and last-ditch effort to halt all activity within the community.” He warned that the moratorium would “suspend property rights” and discourage new businesses and entrepreneurs from investing in the village.

Unsurprisingly, development proponents agree with that assessment.

“The moratorium is a tough tool that should only be used as an absolute last resort by local authorities. , can easily vote for or against a project on a case-by-case basis, according to the Association for a Better Long Island. Suppressing growth with sweeping moratoriums hurts both local businesses and residents, and the recent past has been a good example of wise growth. It brings unnecessary self-harm to a village.”

At the Feb. 1 Zoom hearing on the moratorium, the County Planning Commission questioned the legality of the village law, asked for evidence of development pressure, asked for details on the moratorium waiver process, and the March 1 hearing. I scheduled the continuation of the meeting. When the village again insists on enacting a building ban.

DAVID GILMARTIN: “I have no problem doing new research or updating old plans. The problem is the moratorium.”

Meanwhile, plans for a new inn in Eagle Point remain on hold.

“The moratorium is premature because they don’t know what zoning laws they want to change or enact until whatever research they’re proposing is completed,” Gilmartin said. “It disproportionately affects the minority of property owners who are in the process of upgrading or transitioning uses. There is nothing wrong with doing new research or updating old plans.

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