Next Steps After Bel-Aire Purchase

Desirée Keegan
Bel-Aire Cove Motel was purchased as part of an urban renewal project.

The Southampton Town Board is deliberating next steps following last month’s purchase of the Bel-Aire Cove Motel property in Hampton Bays.

To begin cleaning up its urban renewal project investment, the town will need to go to the Suffolk County Department of Health Services to grandfather any existing rights to plumbing and septic flow. That’s 3300 gallons, according to town planning and development administrator Janice Scherer, who was promoted from assistant following the resignation of Kyle Collins in November. It needs to be done before the building can be demolished.

From there, Scherer suggested hiring a company to create design options or renderings for the town-discussed alternatives — either a 22-unit motel or 12-unit townhouse development.

“I’ve been hearing from interested parties and no one seems to be interested in the motel,” Supervisor Jay Schneiderman said. “Developers are interested in the condos. At least three people contacted my office.”

Scherer said the visualization is half the battle, and Schneiderman agreed.

“Any time anyone looked at it they walked away,” the supervisor said.

There is, however, pending litigation, according to Scherer.

“A couple of people are challenging the acquisition,” said town attorney James Burke.

For now, the town will seek approval for the work with the county and come up with options to present to future investors. Schneiderman said while there are developers looking to acquire the land and go through Suffolk instead of Southampton, he doesn’t think it’s the right way to go.

“Obviously that way, we’re done, we’re made whole, but I like the community having a lot more say in the use, the aesthetics, in all of that,” he said.

“You’re taking away uncertainty, and helping something become something better,” Scherer responded. “That’s community renewal.”

The planning and development administrator said it sounds like a win-win all around. She suggested creating access to Penny Pond, and discussing this option with the town trustees to tie that into a parcel already under their control.

“We’re not trying to create a windfall for anyone, we’re trying to make something that we’ll be happy with, that will be complete in the community, and that someone will invest in so it will stay the way we intend it,” Scherer said. “We want it to be something everyone is proud of.”

Burke said the town will get an appraisal of what the property is worth after the town sets up the parcel for the preferred plan. Schneiderman said while the town didn’t purchase the parcel to make money, and wouldn’t mind taking a loss if the result benefits the community, any potential surplus after the sale it would be used to clean up other blighted areas within the town.

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