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Sep 28, 2016 12:04 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Southampton Town Board Delays Adoption Of Environmental Report On 'The Hills' Application

Former Southampton Town Councilwoman Carolyn Zenk raises concerns about whether the DEIS should be deemed complete.   JEN NEWMAN
Sep 28, 2016 12:21 PM

In an abrupt change of course, the Southampton Town Board on Tuesday night tabled a resolution that would have deemed the fourth version of a draft environmental impact statement for a proposed East Quogue luxury golf course resort complete.

The decision to hold off on approving the 473-page document, focusing on the potential environmental impact of the development dubbed “The Hills at Southampton,” also means that the first public hearing on the application, tentatively proposed for October 17 at the East Quogue Elementary School, has been pushed back indefinitely.

The board is expected to revisit the resolution at its next meeting on Tuesday, October 11.

Entering Tuesday’s meeting, the Town Board was expected to sign off on the environmental impact statement, which has been tweaked and updated by the developer, Arizona-based Discovery Land Company, over the past few months, in response to feedback from the town. But board members backed off when two members of the public expressed concerns over the document, insisting that it is still missing vital information.

Carolyn Zenk, an environmental attorney from Hampton Bays and a former Town Board member, said the document still lacks required maps and, perhaps most important, does not include what the developer could construct as of right on the property.

While Discovery Land owns nearly 600 acres in East Quogue, most of its proposed development—which includes 118 residential units and an 18-hole golf course—would be centered on 168 acres near Spinney Road in East Quogue. The residential units would include 95 single-family homes, 13 clubhouse cabins and 10 clubhouse condominiums.

In order for the application to be approved, the Town Board would have to approve special zoning, called a planned development district, or PDD, as all of the targeted land is now 5-acre residential zoning—the most restrictive in the municipality.

“It’s missing probably the most critical thing that should be in that statement,” Ms. Zenk said, pointing to the lack of a reduced density alternative. “The town had a scoping document that spelled out what was supposed to be in the impact statement, and it made it very clear that the developer was supposed to provide maps at the same level of detail as the PDD submission.”

She added that having visual maps of zoning, as well as reduced impact and reduced density alternatives, are critical for members of the public to better understand what the developer can construct as of right.

“The maps are missing,” Ms. Zenk added. “Things had to be at the same level of detail as the PDD plan. That’s what you really need to go forward to the hearing … This is unacceptable.”

The Town Board hired AKRF Inc., an environmental, planning and engineering consulting firm out of Bohemia, to review the massive document. In August, when the board deemed the third version of the document incomplete, a report from AKRF stated that the finalized version must offer an alternate development, namely one that would require less grading and, as a result, have less of an impact on the environment. It also requested the inclusion of minor maps, tables and legends, as well as certain wording changes.

Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman told Ms. Zenk that the town would consider getting more information about the as-of-right alternative.

“You feel, as a representative of an organization that has an interest in this [application], that you don’t have enough information that was submitted,” Mr. Schneiderman said, nodding to her affiliation with the environmental group Citizens for Clean Drinking Water, Clean Air, and Clean Bays, or CLEAN. “We get that. It’s something the board has to consider. We’re obviously going to have to know, with some detail what the as of right is. We appreciate you bringing that to our attention.”

Councilwoman Christine Scalera, meanwhile, said the developer adequately addressed that issue, pointing to plans to cluster all 118 residential units on the property.

“We were looking for what they could do as of right,” Ms. Scalera said. “Those details were, in fact, provided. I don’t know what you have been given access to. It will be on the website tomorrow morning. We did ask for those things to make sure they are in there.”

The town has since delayed the posting of the document since the board tabled the matter Tuesday night.

Mark Hissey, vice president of Discovery Land Company, said on Wednesday that he was surprised to learn that the document had not yet been approved.

“We were told by the town that it was going to be approved last night,” he said. “We were notified by them and they decided to table it for some reason. The reason for that you are going to have to get from the town.”

He later added: “I don’t see how they couldn’t have approved it. It’s mystifying.”

Mr. Hissey also said he expects the board to approve the draft at the meeting on October 11.

William Kearns, an East Quogue resident, took issue with the town originally scheduling the first public hearing for October 17, a scenario that would have given members of the public only two and a half weeks to review the document. “To ask the people of East Quogue to get their acts together in this time is not a level playing field,” he said.

Mr. Schneiderman countered that the town would hold between four and six public hearings on the application prior to voting—an assurance that did little to satisfy Mr. Kearns.

“I think starting it without giving people of the town adequate chance to prepare is not a fair thing to do,” he said.

Ms. Zenk said she was able to review the document’s latest revision on Tuesday after submitting a Freedom of Information Act request to the town clerk’s office. Other people in the community also pointed out this week that they were disappointed that the town was not releasing the document.

Councilman Stan Glinka also appeared perturbed that the resolution had to be tabled. “We’ll make this one provision, but we can’t keep doing this,” he said.

Staff writer Jen Newman contributed reporting to this story.

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Just FYI to all: We're having issues with the attached PDF file because of its size--well over 400 pages--and the ability to download it from the site. We're working right now with Discovery Land, who provided the original to us, to split the entire document into several PDFs to make it easier to download and review. Bear with us--we should have links soon to do that.
By Joseph Shaw, Executive Editor (206), Hampton Bays on Sep 28, 16 12:58 PM
1 member liked this comment
Oh yes you can keep doing this, Stan, and you will keep doing it or face a revolution. This is big, bigger than perhaps you'd like to think. Whatever reasonable things the public wants on this, the public is going to get.

Maybe you think there's some danger of the developer's suing if he feels he's kept waiting too long, but be assured, the far greater danger is the public reaction if the public feels the thing is being rushed. Oh, yes.

Warm congratulations to Carolyn Zenk and ...more
By Turkey Bridge (1979), Quiogue on Sep 28, 16 2:42 PM
3 members liked this comment
Carolyn, so good to see you still fighting the fight and as expected prevailing. The Town Board could certainly have used your presence (membership) during the tenure of the last Supervisor.

way to go!!!!!
By NTiger (543), Southampton on Sep 28, 16 9:09 PM
Stan Glinka - The Developers Best Friend on the Town Board:

At the Town Board meeting last Tuesday - Mr. Glinka seems to have been quite disturbed by the developers failing to submit a complete DEIS (for the 4th time). Only problem is he's mad at the public for noticing - not for Kyle Collins getting caught trying to slip the Board a quickie...

Does anyone here detect an odor? Something stinks!

Watch the video of the Town Board meeting online to see his little
belligerent ...more
By sag2harbor (117), sag harbor on Sep 29, 16 8:05 AM
What does a company from Arizona care about the environment in East Quogue?
By Bob Fraser (4), South Jamesport, on Sep 29, 16 8:15 AM
I read that Jay Schniederman received a ton of money from developers including Mark Hissy. Its in the campaign reporting. He's the real best friend of developers just like that awful Anna Throne Holst. When will my party run REAL democrats instead of these Independence party political charlatans? I have had enough of Gordon Herr and George Lynch selling us out to the highest bidder and then having Turkey Bridge repeatedly tell us it's all right. Hold your Democrat Elected officials accountable ...more
By CleanWaters (80), Southampton on Oct 1, 16 8:18 AM
1 member liked this comment
I don't get you, Clean. Everything reported in this article shows the Town Board acting, if anything, adversely to the developer's application and the Republican members being unhappy with that.

So what's your beef with the Dems? I haven't checked (too lazy, I admit it), but I'd be willing to bet that Mr. Hissey contributed a substantial amount to everyone running for the Board last year. If I'm right,that says something.

Even if I'm wrong about that, the fact is that it's ...more
By Turkey Bridge (1979), Quiogue on Oct 1, 16 11:54 AM
Turkey Bridge, watch the video. Per Ms. Zenck, (and watching prior videos,also verifies) it was Councilwoman Scalera who was asking for the information that prompted the developer to provide more and it was Councilwoman Scalera who suggested putting off the vote. Jay capitulated after he saw where Ms. Scalera was going. Doing a lot of that lately. While Ms. Scalera shows time and time again leadership and insight and holding the same standard for all, your "Dems" say nothing and please do look ...more
By Roughrider28 (80), southampton on Oct 3, 16 3:20 PM
Roughrider, my comments are partisan, and I make no apology for that, because I have found the Democrats over time to be acting far more in the interests of Southampton Town and its citizens than the Republicans. This isn't a matter of the ideological differences we see on the national and state levels. This has to do with the everyday practicalities of serving the people of Southampton Town, getting up in the morning and doing the job, and watching how the money is spent all the while.

I've ...more
By Turkey Bridge (1979), Quiogue on Oct 6, 16 1:08 PM
TB, as usual, you are full of it.
By dnice (2346), Hampton Bays on Oct 8, 16 5:25 PM
Where do we look for campaign contributions?
Thank you very much.
By sag2harbor (117), sag harbor on Oct 4, 16 5:34 PM
New York State Board of Elections
By Roughrider28 (80), southampton on Oct 4, 16 6:35 PM
By sag2harbor (117), sag harbor on Oct 5, 16 9:21 PM