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Jun 15, 2011 12:44 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Suffolk County, Town Could Team Up To Buy 415 Acres In East Quogue

Jun 15, 2011 1:09 PM

Legislation to acquire and preserve more than 400 acres of wooded land off of Spinney Road in East Quogue, commonly known as “The Hills,” will go to a vote before the Suffolk County Legislature next week, several months after an adjoining property was preserved by Southampton Town and Suffolk County.

Legislator Jay Schneiderman said on Tuesday that the bill to preserve 415 acres in the hamlet—which was originally slated for an 82-home subdivision—is scheduled to be voted on by Suffolk County Legislature next Tuesday, June 21. If approved, the county will begin the process of appraising the land and determining a “fair market value” for the purchase.

“You don’t see a lot of 400-acre properties,” Mr. Schneiderman said of his reasoning for pushing for the preservation of the land. “This is the largest parcel I’ve seen on the South Fork—ever.”

In order to buy the land, Mr. Schneiderman said, Suffolk County would be seeking a commitment from the Town of Southampton to partner and possibly split the price of the purchase. The partnership comes on the heels of another purchase late last year in which the town and county split the $10 million cost of a neighboring 150-acre property.

The assessed value of the 415 acres was not readily available, according to the town assessor’s office.

“I just need that written indication from the town that they are willing to partner,” Mr. Schneiderman said, adding that he has had positive conversations with Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst about the proposed purchase. “[The legislature] want that partnership in place before they’re ready to commit to appraise the property.”

Ms. Throne-Holst said the Town Board has had discussions about the potential acquisition in recent executive session meetings. She pointed out that any potential purchase would need to address how the 400-acre property would be maintained.

“We have to have discussions with the county about stewardship, liability and all of that,” she said. “It’s a big piece of property.”

Last fall, the town paid $5 million to buy and preserve 150 acres in the hamlet known as “The Links,” which runs adjacent to “The Hills” property. According to the original plans on file with the town, the two properties were to be developed in tandem as an 18-hole championship golf course and subdivision. With the purchase of “The Links” parcel, the adjacent property’s developers approached Mr. Schneiderman about selling their parcel to Suffolk County for preservation.

“The Hills” property is currently owned by East Quogue Partners LLC, according to town records. The land was originally slated to be subdivided so that 111 single-family homes could be built there. That number was reduced to 82 following a rezoning of the land in 2006. The developers have had a subdivision application pending before the Town Planning Board to build the 82 homes since 2006.

Mr. Schneiderman said the legislation was supported by Suffolk County’s Environment, Planning and Agriculture Committee on Monday, June 13, and forwarded to the legislature for a vote on Tuesday. He added that the original legislation was “stalled in committee,” because of the property’s size and its potential price tag.

Mr. Schneiderman declined to speculate on how much the acquisition would cost.

“I have 17 other colleagues and we only have so much money to spend,” Mr. Schneiderman said, adding that he originally proposed the bill several months ago. “Preserving that amount of woodlands and recharge areas is for natural preservation and groundwater protection. It makes a lot of sense.”

The legislator said that if the bill passes in the legislature on Tuesday, it would be forwarded to Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy. If he does not veto it, the bill will become law and the county will begin the appraisal process.

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There's no better way to spend CPF monies.
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on Jun 15, 11 8:33 PM
By dogfacejones (81), Southampton on Jun 16, 11 7:41 AM
Suffolk county is cutting social and medical programs left and right because of state cutbacks. Where does Mr. Schneiderman get the money for thins?
By V.Tomanoku (790), southampton on Jun 16, 11 4:13 PM