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Jan 26, 2016 3:29 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Alec Baldwin Joins Local Campaign Against The Hills, PDDs

Actor Alec Baldwin is joining the
Jan 27, 2016 10:31 AM

Actor Alec Baldwin is the latest individual—and by far the most prominent—to join the growing ranks of those demanding that Southampton Town repeal a special change of zone that, opponents charge, provides developers with too much leeway in terms of extra density in exchange for questionable public benefits.

Mr. Baldwin, an Amagansett resident who has also been a longtime environmental advocate, recently recorded a two-minute public service announcement, at the request of the Long Island Pine Barrens Society, explaining why he is against these zoning changes, known as planned development districts, or PDDs.

More specifically, he shared his opposition to a proposed luxury golf course community, called “The Hills at Southampton,” pitched by the Arizona-based Discovery Land Company, that targets nearly 600 acres in East Quogue. That application calls for the construction of 118 homes—95 single-family homes, 13 clubhouse cabins and 10 clubhouse condominiums—and an 18-hole golf course centered on 168 acres along Spinney Road in the hamlet.

“The biggest and baddest development on Long Island is The Hills at Southampton proposed mega golf resort on some 500 acres of land that is the largest privately owned Pine Barrens parcel remaining on Long Island,” Mr. Baldwin said in the announcement, which has aired on more than a dozen media outlets, including News 12 Long Island.

Mr. Baldwin lives in East Hampton Town, which does not allow PDDs.

His message underscores the same opinions expressed in the fall by some 30 environmentalists and community leaders, including Group for the East End President Robert DeLuca, State Assemblyman Fred Thiele Jr. and Long Island Pine Barrens Executive Director Richard Amper. At the time, they charged that the system is broken and that Town Board members should immediately repeal the PDD legislation. They also charged that, if the law is allowed to stand, the continued widespread abuse and manipulation of PDDs will continue throughout the municipality.

Prior to leaving office last month, former Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst stated that she had no intention of repealing the legislation, nor would she support a one-year moratorium on PDD applications, as had been proposed by some. She insisted at the time that the legislation, while not ideal, remains a valuable planning tool that allows town officials to have a greater say in terms of development. Ms. Throne-Holst also said officials had been working on plans to update the legislation, but the status of that outcome remained unclear this week.

Exactly a year ago this month, the Town Board approved the Canoe Place Inn PDD, an ambitious project that calls for the construction of 37 townhouses on 4.5 acres on the east side of the Shinnecock Canal in Hampton Bays and also permits the redevelopment of the old inn on the western side of the canal. In addition to restoring the building and opening a 25-room inn, the developers are adding a cluster of guest cottages and opening a 300-seat catering hall.

When reached this week, Mr. Amper said he thinks Mr. Baldwin’s reputation and prominence will help their campaign to get the PDD law overturned. “I think he will educate those who are not already expressing concern over The Hills and PDDs in general,” he said. “I think there is a widespread opposition to both The Hills and PDDs in general.”

Mr. Amper, who helped kickstart the campaign, said he was not surprised to learn that Mr. Baldwin was willing to lend his voice to push their cause. The actor has been involved with the Long Island Pine Barrens Society for four years and, last year, served as chairman of the group’s annual fundraiser gala. Mr. Baldwin is also an active member of the Group for the East End, according to Mr. Amper.

“I think most people on the East End are very concerned about the environment and it is not surprising that he would be as well,” Mr. Amper said of Mr. Baldwin. “His joining is increasing the chorus of voices expressing their concern about The Hills and PDDs.”

Discovery Land submitted its 333-page draft environmental impact statement, commonly referred to as a DEIS, to the Town Board on December 21, which is part of the PDD process. The DEIS explains how the proposed luxury golf course resort, if built, will affect the environment and focuses on the community benefits that are being pitched by the developer.

In a somewhat unusual move, the town is having two teams of environmentalists closely examine the document.

Representatives of AKRF Environmental and Planning Consultants of Bohemia are being paid $40,250 to review the study, though as of earlier this week, it remained unclear how far along they have gotten as company officials did not return a call seeking an update.

Dr. Chris Gobler, an East Quogue resident and a professor at Stony Brook University’s School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences, has also been asked to review the document. “I would like to state that I am not being compensated by the town for this effort,” Dr. Gobler said. “I am doing this as a service to the current and former Town Board members and supervisors at their specific request.”

Dr. Gobler added that he is still in the “preliminary phases” of his analysis.

“There is a lot to go through, so it will take some time,” he wrote in an email this week. “If there are numbers that do not add up, I will point that out to the Board. Given this is a draft, I think there is the expectation that there will be changes.”

Perhaps the most notable aspect of the DEIS is the impact that Discovery Land says its development will have on the levels of nitrogen found in nearby groundwater. Mark Hissey, the vice president of Discovery Land, has stated that an advanced wastewater treatment system—an exact one has not yet been selected, according to the study—would be built on the land to service the homes. The company also intends to take additional measures, such as recycling nitrogen-laden groundwater that is already present in the area and using it to water the greens and tee boxes on the golf course, to reduce the amount of nitrogen in groundwater.

After it receives feedback from the environmentalists, the Town Board will inform the developer what it needs to change for the final environmental impact statement.

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SHT, just say no to the PDD. If "The Hillls," can't be preserved let the Discovery Land Company build their as-of-right housing.

By crusader (391), East Quogue on Jan 26, 16 6:15 PM
Hi Crusader. Have you read the Hills DEIS?
By SportsMom (16), Quogue on Jan 26, 16 8:09 PM
Just what we need. Another [expletive deleted] golf course...
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Jan 26, 16 6:35 PM
Wow. This should make all the difference in the world.

By VOS (1241), WHB on Jan 26, 16 7:17 PM
Alec who?
By bigfresh (4666), north sea on Jan 26, 16 7:44 PM
Exactly, Just like Lena Dunham who ?
By They call me (2826), southampton on Feb 1, 16 2:18 PM
Anna Throne-Holst shame on you , Overdevelopment is a problem . Dont vote for her as she runs for congress.
By yassar arafar (33), sag harbor on Jan 26, 16 9:12 PM
Take a hike Alec. Tee it up, Four!!
By nytractor (15), hampton bays on Jan 27, 16 7:43 AM
It's "FORE!", not "Four"...
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Jan 27, 16 10:24 PM
1 member liked this comment
Uh, it's "fore", not "four", Einstein.
By June Bug (2680), SOUTHAMPTON on Feb 2, 16 12:14 PM
Is this the same Alec Baldwin that was leaving the Country if George Bush got elected? It's 15 years later and he's still here, so much for that promise. All Talk and No Promise....
By Peanuts (5), Riverside on Jan 27, 16 8:40 AM
So you're in favor of PDD's and "The Hills" or just against Alec Baldwin?
By Arnold Timer (327), Sag Harbor on Jan 28, 16 4:22 PM
Just Alec Baldwin for me
By They call me (2826), southampton on Feb 1, 16 2:16 PM
The Hills is an example of the town of Southampton traveling the up-island route to disaster...No one who lives east of Wm. Floyd Parkway wants any PDD zoning, including the massive 850 unit 4-phase atrocity now under construction at LIE Exit 68....Zoning designed to destroy Long Island's East End is NOT progress...it is stupidity....Now is the time for our towns to repeal all PDD zoning east of Rt 112....and do something to Save What is Left NOW!
By abco1 (1), Brookhaven on Jan 27, 16 11:04 AM
Lol. Alex Baldwin, longtime environmental advocate???
Lots of ways to describe Alec Baldwin, including but not limited to, Alec Baldwin, a longtime Alec Baldwin advocate. Or, Alec Baldwin, who often spends his money to further his own name on the East End, threatening to pull his "philanthropy" at any second if someone criticizes him. Or, Alec Baldwin, who believes that there are "fundamentalist queers" out to ruin his career...
Environmental advocate? Not so much.
By Brandon Quinn (191), Hampton Bays on Jan 27, 16 11:33 AM
1 member liked this comment
So you're in favor of PDD's and "The Hills" or just against Alec Baldwin?
By Arnold Timer (327), Sag Harbor on Jan 28, 16 4:23 PM
Just against people who think a gift inherently comes with strings attached: Baldwin, Chris Christie, to name a couple...
By Brandon Quinn (191), Hampton Bays on Feb 27, 16 5:16 AM
This guy is a sensationalist clown who would rather jump on board with a popular environmental initiative than to learn facts. Would love to hear what he actually knows about the project...but, no matter, he will look like the same idiot that he usually does when he finds out that the project is going to reduce nitrogen in groundwater (hint: one of the SCWA wells there is loaded with farm nitrogen, which will be alleviated by the developers). That's just one of the benefits. Got to learn the facts, ...more
By getalife (61), Southampton on Jan 29, 16 11:53 AM
Yet another someone with apparently a financial interest, and no interest at all in protecting an area vital to the life of Long Island, and another someone who never was taught Christian ethics. It is wrong to attack someone with whom you disagree on his person. Alec Baldwin is a native Long Islander raising a family on the East End. He is generous to a fault locally with money and participation in local fund-raisers. He knows full well (as does any ordinary citizen) why this project should ...more
By June Bug (2680), SOUTHAMPTON on Feb 2, 16 12:28 PM
2 members liked this comment
... 118 homes and a golf course built over our sole source aquifer and a pristine pine forest are actually going to REDUCE nitrogen levels - impossible. No matter how they spin it - cant be done. Blame it on the farm - saw that coming a mile away. Keep spinning the wheel - maybe you will come up with something factual. Doubt it , though.
By William Rodney (561), southampton on Jan 29, 16 12:26 PM
3 members liked this comment
This would be an excellent opportunity for getalife and William Rodney to actually provide some facts rather than launching their rhetorical blimps over this discussion. Empty claims, appealing solely to emotion, are still empty without support. Open-minded people want facts, not emotional fluff.
By VOS (1241), WHB on Jan 29, 16 4:11 PM
THE HILLS is a disaster waiting to happen, hopefully the recently elected Town Board will do what is right and deny the application.
By bigfresh (4666), north sea on Jan 30, 16 11:42 AM
Okay, you can be in the "Rhetorical Blimp Club" too.
By VOS (1241), WHB on Jan 30, 16 12:45 PM
Building a golf course and condos on top of the aquifer puts our drinking water in jeopardy FACT
By bigfresh (4666), north sea on Jan 31, 16 12:22 PM
3 members liked this comment
Your saying so does not create a "FACT." Give us something more than rhetoric if you wish to be taken seriously.
By VOS (1241), WHB on Feb 1, 16 11:30 AM
Why didn't the Pine Barren Society buy the property when it was on the market ten years ago? I have been donating to them every year and went to the Gala where Mr. Baldwin was honored not that long ago. I thought that was why they raise money. Now its a toss up between the as of right construction or the PDD. Which one has the bigger impact?
By CleanWaters (80), Southampton on Feb 3, 16 11:39 AM
2 members liked this comment
OK here's how its goes.....Everyone uses the "Aquifer" under our feet as the all important factor determining our future drinking water. Enough of the BS, Manhattan, better known as the concrete jungle gets its water from upstate and has been regarded and found to be one of the best tasting water around with testing by different agencies. So why is everyone so concerned about the local water? Water is Water and no matter & how it comes out of your tap or for that matter where it comes from "WE ARE ...more
By Peanuts (5), Riverside on Feb 6, 16 9:03 AM

NYC water comes from reservoirs, not impacted by groundwater pollutants

Ours comes from under our feet where toxic chemicals applied to the ground end up coming out of our spigots

Those are the simple facts

By CleanWater (122), East Quogue on Feb 28, 16 11:26 AM