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Jan 15, 2014 11:55 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

East Quogue Golf Course Development Gets Green Light For PDD Application

Jan 15, 2014 12:58 PM

The Southampton Town Board on Tuesday gave a green light to the would-be developers of a 400-acre golf course and housing development in East Quogue to file an official application for a change of zone that would make way for the sprawling “Hills at Southampton” project.

The board voted 4-1 to let the application proceed, with Councilwoman Bridget Fleming casting the lone vote against it after imploring her fellow board members to kill the proposal and let the developers build the 82 homes the area’s existing residential zoning would allow if they decided to do so—but not an accompanying golf course.

“The applicant is asking us to permit the as-of-right housing ... and they’re asking us to grant the additional 86 acres of a golf course and a 54,000-square-foot clubhouse,” Ms. Fleming said. “I feel that the right decision at this juncture, rather than string the developer along, is to deny the request to submit a full application.”

Ms. Fleming said that the purported “community benefit” of the project, as outlined in the preliminary application, was little more than what town codes would apply on their own and fall far short of what the benefits should be—especially considering the developers’ own projections of a 20-fold increase in the value of the property were the zone change to be granted.

But other members said the board would be passing up the opportunity both to lessen the environmental impacts of such a large development and to reap true community benefits over what the as-of-right housing development would present.

“Whenever a developer comes in, they’ve got a wish list, like a child for Santa Claus,” Councilman Brad Bender said. “But let’s see what we can walk that back to. This is not a stamp of approval. This is just the start of a conversation. When we get to the other end of that conversation, we may find that it is a no.”

Mr. Bender noted that the septic systems that would be required were the property to be developed as of right would remove no nitrogen from the wastewater seeping into the ground. With the application for a Mixed Use Planned Development District—a special overlay zoning designation that would give the Town Board the option of allowing development currently outlawed by zoning, in exchange for a series of conditions—the town could require that a state-of-the-art septic treatment system and other mitigations be used to significantly lower the overall negative impacts on regional groundwater from the project.

Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst defended the board against some criticisms that it should be looking toward preserving the property from any development at all—a effort it has already made, and one that fell short. “The Town Board did everything it could to try to preserve this property,” she said. “We did what we could under the parameters of the Community Preservation Fund ... to make an offer as high as we possibly could. We did that, and that offer was rejected.”

Ms. Throne-Holst noted that not all environmental advocates had even supported the expensive attempt to preserve the property, even if it had been successful, because zoning codes would require that the 82 lots allowed be clustered onto just 20 percent of the property, the rest remaining as open space. The designs of the PDD development would spread the golf course and houses throughout the entire property, though the developers have claimed that 75 percent of the property would still remain undisturbed.

While many residents blasted the project, business community representatives have touted the PDD application as having a substantially different potential impact on area taxes than the as-of-right subdivision would. The developers have proposed that they could employ residency restrictions on the residential units on the property to ensure that none of the tenants was using the property as a permanent residence from which children could attend area schools. When compared to the potential of as many as 30 children coming into the schools from the 82 houses the developers are entitled to, the boost to taxes from the PDD development would gigantic, supporters said.

“This is no longer a choice between preservation and development,” said former town supervisor Patrick Heaney, a resident of East Quogue. “It’s the choice between a subdivision that cannot be highly regulated by the Town Board ... or a Planned Development District that can be highly regulated. It’s a choice between lawns and cesspools that will deinitley introduce unregulated levels of nitrogen to surface and groundwaters, or rigorous groundwater monitoring and maintenance practices that have been employed successful at The Bridge and Sebonack [golf clubs].

“It’s a choice between a subifidivon that will raise taxes by adding another 60-80 children to the distrct, or a PDD that will add $3.5 million in new revenue to lower taxes, and no students,” he continued.

The developers will attend an informational forum on the application at the East Quogue Elementary School on Thursday, February 6, at 7 p.m.

Several area residents and an attorney representing the East Quogue Civic Association, implored the town to reject the application because of environmental concerns.

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A private golf course with a 1000 new memberships at a $1 million membership fee each is a Billion Dollar Project. And what does the Town of Southampton get for this upzoning? A promise not to add nitrogen to an aquifer that has already had 3 massive shellfish closings in the last 3 years.

Good going, Bridget, for standing up to this nonsense. Shame on the rest of the Town Board. Time for the Trustees to begin their defense against this permanent black algae bloom in the making.
By davidf (325), hampton bays on Jan 15, 14 1:13 PM
2 members liked this comment
Once again you literally make up numbers of out thin air. How is that helpful?

"A private golf course with a 1000 new memberships at a $1 million membership fee each is a Billion Dollar Project."

I will however, agree that Bridget seems to be the only one with a brain on that Board
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on Jan 15, 14 2:52 PM
what number do you disagree with? do you not think that private golf club memberships cost $1 million on the east end? or do you think they'd sell less than a thousand?
By davidf (325), hampton bays on Jan 15, 14 3:21 PM
Both. I doubt they would have 1,000 individual members (i.e. 1,000 distinct families totalling say 3-4,000 people). I also dispute the idea it would be a $1,000,000 membership fee.

In looking at Discovery Land Companies other development projects (almost all of which are larger in number of home sites and acreage) I would expect the 82 homes to be sold for between $750k and $2,000,000 - so let's say that generates $82,000,000. The memberships would be limited to an additional say 418 ...more
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on Jan 15, 14 4:18 PM
Wow nature- I always thought you were one of the smarter bloggers but saying that Bridget has a brain, let alone the only one on the board you completely disappointed me. Fleming has proven herself to be nothing more than a pandering talking head, time and time again given that preservation is off the table at this point she offers no alternative but plays to politically expedient answers takings the easy way out. It takes knowledge creativeness, strength and courage to see the potential to be able ...more
By sassy (6), new york on Jan 15, 14 4:38 PM
from a 2006 article in Bloomberg News:

May 31 (Bloomberg) -- The newest golf course in the Hamptons may already be No. 1 in at least one category: price.

Sebonack Golf Club, which opened for limited play last weekend in Southampton, New York, costs what might be a world-highest $650,000 for a membership that ensures accommodations at one of 15 four-bedroom ``cottages'' being built around the course. It's $500,000 just for golf.

The new club sits between 95-year-old National ...more
By davidf (325), hampton bays on Jan 16, 14 12:24 PM
Sassy- Thanks for the compliment and your critisicm is well taken. My point about Bridget is that at least she really said what was on her mind and voiced her opinion regarding this project. To her, she doesn't see that it would be worth and and she believes the zoning that the Town put in place on the property is the appropriate zoning for the property. If you do your research you will see that DLC is not all they're making themselves out to be. Additionally - she was well aware (I'm sure) ...more
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on Jan 16, 14 12:59 PM
Davidf - no way a golf course approaches those numbers. If you paid $1 million would you want to wait in line to play? Golf courses get real crowded as they approach 400-500 members.
By dnice (2346), Hampton Bays on Jan 16, 14 4:36 PM
1 member liked this comment
Nature-you're working your way back. I couldn't agree more on your second point that she knew how the vote would go. On your first point, I would only note that while not quoted in the paper, if you watch the video, both ATH and SCALERA well articulated their positions.
By sassy (6), new york on Jan 16, 14 8:56 PM
What all of the environmentalist seem to ignore is that this property is already approved for the development of 82 homes as a matter of right. Something will be built there whether anyone likes it or not.

So it comes down to a choice between 82 individual families of year round residents, adding year round burdens to the school district and aquifer, managing there own lawns and fertilizing their yards any way they see fit; or, one property owner developing a golf course with no impact ...more
By Damon.Hagan (34), East Quogue on Jan 15, 14 2:27 PM
3 members liked this comment
From Discovery Land Companie's website (somoene should tell them the property isn't in Quogue):

"Quogue Golf Club
South Hampton, New York
Discovery Land Company has acquired 440 acres in the village of Quogue, in the Town of Southampton, New York and is processing the necessary entitlements for a world class, Tom Fazio golf course that winds through a preserved forest of coastal pines, as well as approximately 82 residences. Discovery will provide its high level of Member service, ...more
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on Jan 15, 14 4:20 PM
Maybe the Town will flip the Neptune property to them too...?
By V.Tomanoku (790), southampton on Jan 15, 14 6:05 PM
The point of my comments are that even if you discount reasonable assumptions by half, and assume 500 memberships at $500,000 apiece, that's $250 million given to developers for very little in return. The idea that a golf course would not add significant amounts of nitrogen run off into the aquifer is absurd. But even environmental reasons aside, the developers bought the land with current zoning restrictions in place, why waive them for free? When property is purchased in Texas, the mineral ...more
By davidf (325), hampton bays on Jan 16, 14 12:30 PM
1 member liked this comment
Davidf, first of all, as pointed out, your assumptions weren't reasonable. 500 members at $500,000 is still highly unlikely. Maybe 150-200 members at that price, maybe.
By dnice (2346), Hampton Bays on Jan 16, 14 10:25 PM
1 member liked this comment
Tuckahoe Schools lost millions when the golf courses got big reductions in their taxes. Don't think for a minute they will pay their fair share here.
By TheTurtle (143), Southampton on Jan 16, 14 10:04 PM
What's worse, the CPF which completely takes the property off of the tax roll or a golf course that pays property taxes?
By dnice (2346), Hampton Bays on Jan 19, 14 5:30 PM
PILOT funds offset CPF reductions
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on Jan 19, 14 6:14 PM
Do the PILOT funds match what is lost in tax revenue?
By dnice (2346), Hampton Bays on Jan 19, 14 11:05 PM
"The Town of Southampton is authorized to use up to 10 percent of the annual fund revenue to make "Pilot" payments to special districts such as school, fire, fire protection and ambulance districts where over twenty five percent of the land in that district is exempt from real property tax due to its ownership by the State or other municipal corporation. The purpose of this payment would be to reduce the real property tax liability of the residents within the qualifying special district."
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on Jan 20, 14 10:48 AM
I thought the PILOT program applied only to NYS (or other municipality) property?

Also, the mechanics of who gets what, when, and how the funds are split between competing (if any) qualified recipients seem pretty complicated.

What is the likelihood that the PILOT program would actually offset the loss of property taxes paid by this golf course?

By PBR (4956), Southampton on Jan 20, 14 11:05 AM
PBR - you got lost in the conversation. If CPF takes a property off the tax rolls, PILOT makes up the difference, but only in communities where 25% of the land is preserved (as per my above post). So it applies in HB and it applies in Flanders and probably Westhampton and East Quogue. I don't believe it is applied anywhere east of the canal. It has nothing to do with land use - only if the land goes from private ownership to public ownership.
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on Jan 20, 14 2:42 PM
By PBR (4956), Southampton on Jan 20, 14 2:48 PM
So all of the property purchased for preservation east of the canal is lost tax revenue, correct?
By dnice (2346), Hampton Bays on Jan 20, 14 9:16 PM
Correct - but it's a small amount of land (acreage wise) and taxes are significantly lower east of the canal (due to the "subsidizing" by the wealthy summer owners). Take a look at some real estate listings (particularly in water mill) and see what the taxes are on homes in the $1-3,000,000 range. Then look at what taxes are in HB for homes in the $500-1,000,000 range and you will see that the lack of PILOT funds east of the canal is negligble
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on Jan 21, 14 9:17 AM
I question the proposition that preservation of the property is out because the owner won't accept our best CPF offer. There's still the possibility of acquisition by eminent domain. Granted, this would be asking the courts to make new law in this area, but they did just that in 2004 with the US Supreme Court decision in the Kelo case, greatly expanding the notion of the public purpose that would justify an eminent domain taking. With the door now open, it wouldn't be a giant step for courts ...more
By Turkey Bridge (1979), Quiogue on Jan 19, 14 11:32 AM
1 member liked this comment
What the scary part is that all those evil Republicans on the various boards resigned after the elections, so that the then majority Republican board replaced them with their hand picked thugs.
That's the way it worked out, didn't it TB?
By But I'm a blank! (1283), Hampton Bays on Jan 19, 14 11:43 AM
What you've posted is: [1] not relevant to this issue, because the elected Town Board makes PDD decisions, not the appointed boards, and [2] incorrect, because appointed board members resign only when their term is up, not after an election.
By Turkey Bridge (1979), Quiogue on Jan 19, 14 5:19 PM
TB, I agree 100% with your position as do the great majority of EQ residents. But surprise, surprise, your girl agrees with Skip Heaney, doesn't she, and her sidekick Bender would try so hard to look independent when we already know how he'd vote, even before he got elected.

You're in for a lot of disappointment for the next two years, TB, as your girl pays a lot of developer IOUs, and now she starts the new collection cycle for her next elective office. You're a solid Democrat but you ...more
By Obbservant (449), southampton on Jan 20, 14 11:35 AM
1 member liked this comment
But that was the scenario you predicted after the elections.
And after the PDD is made, the project will have to go in front of one or more of the appointed boards.
Just happy to see the outgoing boards didn't play into your "evil Republicans" plan.
By But I'm a blank! (1283), Hampton Bays on Jan 20, 14 11:39 AM
1 member liked this comment
If the Town truly wanted preservation they would call the applicants bluff and deny the request for a PDD. Keep it as of right and the DLC will run away faster then a deer being chased by a sharpshooter. DLC is in the business of golf and country club communities. They've never constructed a strictly residential development and there would be no reason for them to do so. With DLC out the property would sit idle. I can't believe there's a market for an 82 lot subdivision (on relatively small ...more
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on Jan 21, 14 9:24 AM
3 members liked this comment
Little of substance will change under the new town board. The Democrats still do not have a majority so any decisions will turn exclusively upon how much money is represented by either side in a controversy. Under the last board, if competing interests didn't divide along monetary lines, they did so on class lines and the Republican majority could be relied on to vote on principle for vested interest rather than community interest (as they did in the vote on the North Sea beach parking restrictions ...more
By highhatsize (4217), East Quogue on Jan 20, 14 12:52 PM
Blank, you're still confused, this time about whatever it is you think I predicted before. To be honest, I don't remember it exactly myself, but I know it wasn't what you say here. Probably, I said that if the Republicans kept their majority on the Town Board, then we'd see little or no change in the GOP-heavy appointed boards, and if they didn't keep their majority, there'd be some healthy trend toward more balance.

Nature, I believe your comment is spot-on, so much so that I'm puzzled ...more
By Turkey Bridge (1979), Quiogue on Jan 22, 14 1:01 PM
I just like seeing you two bicker
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on Jan 22, 14 2:01 PM

See your posts of Nov 9. Well I am confused on many aspects of this journey, this is not one of them . You predicted "midnight resignations by sitting board members" Apparently to allow the then Republican majority to named replacements after their term expired. It didn't happen, as the appointments would have been illegal.
I think your premise must be wrong, because if the Town Board waited until the expiration of a member's term to re-appoint him/her, or to appoint a new member, ...more
Jan 22, 14 6:01 PM appended by But I'm a blank!
Apologies for the sloppy cut and paste, TB your comments commence at "I think your premise......"
By But I'm a blank! (1283), Hampton Bays on Jan 22, 14 6:01 PM
Still don't see any connection to this article, which is about an application that's before the elected Town Board, and not any of the appointed boards.
By Turkey Bridge (1979), Quiogue on Jan 23, 14 11:29 AM
The connection to the article is meaningless. The point is that you predicted, or strongly inferred, that Republican board members would resign en masse from the various boards so that the outgoing Town Board could appoint their own thugs before the new board came in.( of course the idea that those very members were appointed by the Republicans didn't factor in) You denied saying that and I just wanted to show you that your memory is lapsing.
When are the new board members being interviewed ...more
By But I'm a blank! (1283), Hampton Bays on Jan 23, 14 12:01 PM
The funniest part about the PDD meeting was that most speakers live in Shinnecock Shores where most homes get flooded, and the septic systems sit in bay water. Where does Turkey Boy Live? On the water in East Quoque with his septic emptying into high lying bay water. The residents of East Quoque are some of the biggest hypocrites around. I got mine your going to get crucified for yours!
By HB taxpayer (3), Hampton Bays on Jan 24, 14 8:00 PM
I was not able to attend the TB meeting in which "The Hills" was allegedly vetted by the TB. However, I did view the TB Meeting on public access TV last night. Fleming brought up many points on why this project should not be approved. Residents directly affected because of close proximately also spoke up against the project. The EQ Historical/Citizens Advisory also spoke up against the project. The EQ Civic Association is not in favor of this project, even having an attorney speak. Dick Amper of ...more
By crusader (391), East Quogue on Jan 27, 14 8:30 AM