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Sep 1, 2015 4:54 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

East Quogue Luxury Golf Course Developer Answers Questions

From left: Deanne Shashoua, of East Quogue, Julie Pimkosh, of Hampton Bays, and Tammi Youngman, of Hampton Bays, attend the informational meeting at Dockers Waterside Marina and Restaurant . AMANDA BERNOCCO
Sep 2, 2015 10:20 AM

An estimated 100 people munched on complimentary appetizers and downed free drinks as they learned more about a proposed luxury golf course development last week from those who are looking to build it in East Quogue.

The gathering at the Dockers Waterside Marina and Restaurant in East Quogue, held on the evening of Wednesday, August 26, was the first of four informational meetings voluntarily scheduled by the Arizona-based Discovery Land Company, the developer behind the project, that are intended to educate the community about the proposal.

The firm is seeking permission, in the form of a planned development district, from the Southampton Town Board to construct 118 homes—95 single-family homes, 13 clubhouse cabins and 10 clubhouse condominium units—as well as an 18-hole golf course centered on 168 acres along Spinney Road. Most of the remaining land, more than 400 acres total, would be set aside as open space, according to the application.

Jessica Insalaco of Quogue, who recently completed web design work for Discovery Land and was later asked by company officials to facilitate the upcoming informational meetings, said the gatherings were designed to clear up the misconceptions that community members might have about the project.

“I really want to stress one thing,” said Mark Hissey, senior vice president of Discovery Land Company, while giving a speech halfway through the night. “The amount of lies that are going around about this … it’s utter garbage. Please speak up, let people know about this, and only judge us on our merits.”

Specifically, Mr. Hissey was referring to a letter written by East Quogue Civic Association President Al Algieri and mailed several weeks earlier to those living both in the hamlet and neighboring Quogue Village. In the letter, which he signed as a member of the Southampton Water Protection Alliance, Mr. Algieri describes the luxury golf complex proposal as the “biggest and worst development project ever proposed for Quogue or East Quogue.”

The letter, which Mr. Algieri said was mailed to “all the taxpayers in Quogue and East Quogue”—though he could not say how many people that included—alleges that the development would further degrade local drinking water supplies and also negatively impact nearby water bodies, namely the already impaired Weesuck Creek and Shinnecock Bay.

His argument mostly falls in line with the opinions of other project critics, including local maritime scientists and environmentalists, who are opposed to the change of zone citing the high-density of the development and the amount of nitrates that it would introduce to the water table.

Mr. Algieri, who was not in attendance last week but said he intends to go to future informational meetings, also warned in his letter that the project would destroy the quality of life for residents because it would result in increases to both traffic and noise, as well as destroy wildlife habitat. He also wrote that he does not think the East Quogue School District will benefit from the project; the development is projected to generate $4.4 million in annual tax revenue for the school district without adding any children to enrollment because the luxury homes will be marketed to second- and third-home owners, according to the developers.

“We proved by the mailing how many people in Quogue and East Quogue were opposed to the project,” Mr. Algieri said, adding that the Southampton Town clerk’s office received more than 800 letters from project opponents after receiving his letter.

Lisa T. Dunlap, a deputy clerk for Southampton Town, said Tuesday that the town has received some 990 letters in response to the application, though she could not estimate how many were against the project.

Several of those in attendance last week expressed similar concerns. Tony Michalowski said he wanted to know how many children living in the single-family homes would eventually enroll in the school district. “I live in East Quogue, so it’ll affect my taxes,” Mr. Michalowski said.

During his speech, Mr. Hissey stated that no children are expected, as the units would be marketed to those who would utilize them only in the summer months.

Others raised concerns about how the development would impact local waterways, why the developers are not opening the golf course to the public, and how the development would impact traffic.

Though most asked questions about the application, some of the attendees came to express their support, citing plans by Discovery Land Company to help clean up the nitrogen that is already contaminating groundwater supplies and degrading the bay. As part of its proposed community benefits, which are a requirement with all PDD applications, the developer would contribute at least $1.8 million toward watershed improvements in the hamlet, including a subsidy that would allow those who live near the bay to upgrade their septic systems. They also intend to install enhanced wastewater treatment facilities, valued at an additional $1.4 million, where feasible on the main property.

“It’s an opportunity to clean up the bay, so I think it would be crazy to pass that up,” said Cathy Seeliger of East Quogue who also owns the Roses and Rice flower shop on Montauk Highway in the hamlet.

Vito Gentile of East Quogue agreed, noting that the development should ultimately attract more shoppers to the downtown area. “East Quogue is dying and it needs a lift,” he said. “This is not going to hurt us … I support this project because I support my town.”

Those who organized the meeting said they were pleased with the results, stating that they welcomed the questions and comments from both supporters and opponents.

“I think it was good,” Charles Voorhis, managing partner of Nelson, Pope and Voorhis in Melville, the surveying and engineering company that is overseeing the ongoing environmental impact study, said after the first of four informational meetings. “The point was to get people engaged about a project we’re really excited about.”

The next hearing is scheduled for Thursday, September 17, from 6 to 8 p.m., at The New Moon Cafe on Montauk Highway in East Quogue. Additional meetings will be held at the same time on Monday, September 21, at the Stone Creek Inn on Montauk Highway in East Quogue, and on Tuesday, October 6, at Cucina Family Style Ristorante on Montauk Highway in East Quogue. Ms. Insalaco said she hopes to schedule a fifth meeting later in October, possibly at the East Quogue Elementary School on Central Avenue.

Those looking to attend any of the upcoming meetings are asked to email Ms. Insalaco at info@TheHillsEQ.com as space is limited at each restaurant.

Discovery Land Company first submitted a pre-application for a planned development district—a special zoning change that can be granted only by a supermajority of the Southampton Town Board—in June 2013. The developer later modified its proposal, upping the number of residential units from 82 to 118, a move that angered some residents even though the applicant has since offered to acquire former farmland and donate it as open space.

The revised application was deemed complete by the Town Board in January and, a month later, members initiated the State Environmental Quality Review process. That process requires these public hearings to be held so that community members can request what specific studies, protocols and alternatives they expect the developer to include in the environmental impact study.

Those public hearings have not yet been scheduled, however. Ms. Insalaco noted that the study should be completed by late fall.

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... time for the developers to state, specifically, how they are going to keep children out of the East Quogue school. By law, this is an impossibility. Once residency is established - they child is in. Hissey's statement that no children are "expected" is different from earlier statements made by the developers, that no children will attend via some "covenant " signed when a home is purchased.

If they think that marketing them to people who will only "use them in the summer months" is ...more
By William Rodney (561), southampton on Sep 2, 15 10:45 AM
1 member liked this comment
Hi William. The developer, Mr. Hissey, said that no children are expected because there are no full-time residents at any of the Discovery resort properties. The Hills is being presented to the Discovery clientele as a Summer destination like most of The Hamptons - not a full-time residence.

Please come to one of the meetings or send an email to info@TheHillsEQ.com if you would like to connect with the developer directly.

Enjoy your day!

By Jinsalaco (2), Quogue on Sep 2, 15 11:10 AM
"The Hills is being presented to the Discovery clientele as a Summer destination like most of the Hamptons - not a full-time residence." News flash-- most of the "Hamptons", only someone from away refers to the east end that way, is populated by full time residents , not summer people. There is no way to keep people from living there full time and sending their kids to school in the District. Your description is insulting and uneducated, classic developer speak.
By bigfresh (4666), north sea on Sep 2, 15 2:57 PM
2 members liked this comment

Have you ever visited The Hamptons? You really must come and see what The Hamptons is all about, truly a great place for year round residents, families, and real estate sales persons.

By adlkjd923ilifmac.aladfksdurwp (747), southampton on Sep 3, 15 7:45 AM
this project will be defeated. I am going to marshal residents, go door to door, and flood the meetings - it is too large for our community!
By Stacia (1), Southampton on Sep 2, 15 12:00 PM
1 member liked this comment
You do that. I'll go order the T-shirts and buy a bullhorn and we can make complete idiots of ourselves on TV.
By CaptainSig (716), Dutch Harbor on Sep 2, 15 2:02 PM
1 member liked this comment
Developer has still not established any benefit to the town for creating the PDD...only mitigation of it's own effects. Why is anyone still entertaining the proposal?

By adlkjd923ilifmac.aladfksdurwp (747), southampton on Sep 3, 15 7:42 AM
Please look at the facts of the project. You could not be more incorrect.
By Mark Hissey (171), Melville on Sep 7, 15 12:52 AM
Have the applicants contributed to Queen Anna?
By bigfresh (4666), north sea on Sep 3, 15 2:02 PM
I love when people comment that have no clue. Just go on there website and you will see the chances of kids going to school in the district are slim to none. Anyone who compares to the pines really has no clue, people who fought the original proposal of condos and a golf course through zoning change got what they deserved the has of right of 140 +- that use the school and services. I don't think people understand what can be done on the property without zoning change. I laughed at people when they ...more
By Remsen (68), Southampton on Sep 7, 15 7:09 PM