Armed with an attorney, zoning documents and maps, developer Andrew Mendelson, of Westhampton, rose to the podium during a Thursday evening Westhampton Beach Board of Trustees meeting to challenge the village on it's "decision" not to consider a proposal to rezone his property to accommodate a supermarket.
Mendelson was informed on Feb. 15 by Richard Haefeli, the village's attorney, that the village will not consider asking for an amendment to rezone the village's B-3 and Industrial zones to permit a 40,000-square-foot supermarket on a 4.2 acre parcel that Mendelson owns on Old Riverhead Road.
"I am a little concerned. I don't think I am getting a fair shake as a property owner and a taxpayer," said Mendelson. "I ask and urge you to reconsider looking at my request and petition."
Mendelson said he is only asking that the village, at the very least, hold a public hearing on the proposal before saying, no.
"This board has closed this off by not allowing the petition to be entertained. We are asking that you let the public have have their say. A public hearing doesn't force your hand to adopt it."
Mendelson says a public hearing would allow all issues about his request to be properly vetted.
Haefeli, however, said it is not incumbent on the board to hold a public hearing or vote on a petition.
Haefeli further pointed out that the village went through a Master Plan process four years ago, complete with a rezoning of Mendelson's property.
If the village goes forward with Mendelson's request, the Master Plan would have to be readdressed with a new environmental study, said Haefeli.
Haefeli further told Mendelson he had the opportunity to request a zone change to accommodate a supermarket at that time.
Mendelson's attorney Frank Isler, of Smith Finkelstein, Lundberg, Isler and Yakaboski of Riverhead, argued that Mendelson asked for the property to be zoned for a supermarket eight years ago, but was shot down.
Haefeli said, "That is not true."
Village Board member Patricia DiBenedetto chimed in saying that since Mendelson first came to the board with his proposal, no community members have stepped forward in support of it.
DiBenedetto's statement prompted several audience members to step up. One said he would like to see the project move forward and another said he thought it would hurt business on Main Street.
After the meeting, Mendelson said he is not going to give up his fight anytime soon and said he will go to the community, even if it means sending each resident a letter. He said he also plans to start a petition campaign.