Community members are going to have to wait a little longer to find out what action Southampton Town will take toward potentially acquiring the Hampton Bays Bel-Aire Cove Motel.
The property at 20 Shinnecock Road has been the center of community complaints, both for its alleged overcrowding and unsafe conditions, and for the fact that some say the town is trying to get into the real estate business because of it. The town began a State Environmental Quality Review Act study of the property November 13, and on November 27, town attorney James Burke said he expected the study to be completed by next month, forcing the board to once again table a resolution to buy the property.
“SEQRA is based on a potential as-of-right — that’s what’s slowing it down,” Burke said. “Since we can’t pinpoint an exact use just yet, the parameters of the potential as-of-right use covers a large scope.”
Supervisor Jay Schneiderman said he’s still unsure why the town can’t just transfer the title under the motel’s present 22-unit use. Councilwoman Christine Preston Scalera said she understands that because the town is proposing an action, or changing the future use of the property, the review must be done.
“The goal is to go right to the community after acquiring it and have a conversation about what makes most sense,” Schneiderman said.
In a first-of-its-kind proposal, the town is looking to purchase the property for $1,060,000, raze the motel, and ready the parcel for redevelopment. Under the proposal, Southampton would secure all necessary construction permits — including for an advanced on-site wastewater treatment system because the property is along a canal leading to Shinnecock Bay.
The motel, which has operated as a year-round residence, was found to have several units with bedbugs, electrical violations, missing smoke detectors, overcrowding, and property maintenance issues during a code enforcement raid in October 2017.
Many residents asked at recent meetings to see the land purchased and preserved using the Community Preservation Fund, but Schneiderman shot that idea down. Others griped the town shouldn’t be rewarding a land owner who has been the subject of multiple code enforcement violations over the years.