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Mar 28, 2017 5:09 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Southampton Town Supervisor Will Seek More Environmental Concessions For 'The Hills'

Southampton Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman is concerned about the environmental impacts of The Hills. JEN NEWMAN
Mar 28, 2017 5:09 PM

“The Hills at Southampton,” a luxury golf course development slated to be built in East Quogue, needs three votes in a pending vote to move forward, but it’s currently without one key vote—the town supervisor’s.

Jay Schneiderman said this week that he is still concerned about the potential environmental impacts of the development. To gain his vote to approve the draft environmental impact statement—the next step in consideration of the special zoning, a planned development district, that Discovery Land Company needs to build its resort on nearly 600 acres—the supervisor said he needs to feel comfortable that the environmental impact of granting the PDD would be demonstrably better than the as-of-right options for developing the site.

“If it’s modified to be better in every category than the as of right, there is no reason not to approve it,” Mr. Schneiderman said of the PDD. “I think most people understand that. The way it was proposed, it did not meet my standards—and I would have had to vote no. But if there is a way to modify it, it would be tough to say no.”

Mr. Schneiderman said he will go back to Discovery Land with an unofficial list of concerns, focusing on the nitrogen impact on the groundwater beneath the site and limits on the amount of pesticides used on the land. Specifically, he said he has some concerns about the fertigation process—the way the Arizona-based developer behind the project plans to reuse water contaminated with nitrogen, pesticides and other chemicals to irrigate the proposed 18-hole golf course.

The supervisor said he hopes to put added restrictions—in addition to those enforced by the state—on the types of pesticides that can be used on the property. He is also looking into the possibility of having the developer go completely “pesticide free” in areas of the golf course outside of the fairways.

“This is the [criteria] that I will use to evaluate this request,” Mr. Schneiderman said of the PDD. He added that other potential “public benefits” offered by Discovery Land will not be part of his evaluation: “I will not consider external factors like scholarships ... I will not consider any of that.”

Mark Hissey, vice president of Discovery Land, said he is aware of some of Mr. Schneiderman’s concerns and would be willing to update the project in the final DEIS to address his requests.

“In my opinion, I don’t believe there are any huge issues we can’t address right now.” Mr. Hissey said. “… I don’t foresee anything major that is going to come up out of the blue. We are all comfortable with where the science is.”

In its proposal, Discovery Land is seeking to build 118 homes—95 single-family homes, 13 clubhouse cabins and 10 clubhouse condominiums—and an 18-hole golf course on 168 acres along Spinney Road in East Quogue. The remaining land will be preserved as open space, according to the application.

Presently, the land is zoned to require 5-acre residential building lots—the strictest such requirement in the municipality.

If the Town Board ultimately votes down the project, the developer can seek approvals from the Planning Board to build an as-of-right residential development without a golf course. Discovery Land’s proposal on those terms still calls for the construction of 118 units, but doesn’t require community benefits mandated by the PDD law.

The DEIS for The Hills was deemed complete by the town in October 2016. After that, the town held a series of four public hearings—which lasted at least four hours each—to allow the community to share their support or concerns with the proposal with the Town Board.

Though there were many who spoke repeatedly at the four hearings, Mr. Schneiderman estimates there were nearly 200 different individuals who spoke about the project. He said it was arguably the most comments he ever received on a single project in his political career.

“I’ve never seen so much on any project,” Mr. Schneiderman said of the response. “The fact that we held about four meetings and each went for four hours—that’s unprecedented.”

The public hearing was completed at the end of the February 7 meeting, though town officials agreed to keep it open until March 9 for written comments. The written comments still continued pouring in, and at the end of February the town voted to allow residents to continue to submit written comments to the town on the DEIS up until April 1.

After the comment period is closed, the final environmental impact statement for The Hills proposal would then need to be filed within 45 days of April 2. An actual vote on the PDD proposal itself is later in the process. The support of four of the five Town Board members, known as a super-majority, is required for the PDD to earn final approval.

As Mr. Schneiderman and the rest of the Town Board thumbs through the comments, they are giving special consideration to people who will be most affected by the golf course: East Quogue residents. “The people in the East Quogue area—I have to look most closely in that community, no doubt,” the supervisor said.

Though the environmental aspects of the project are high on Mr. Schneiderman’s priority list, the developer also has to earn a “check mark” next to several other important criteria on the supervisor’s list. Some of the other items on his list include how much clearing there will be, what the density will look like, the number of jobs the development would provide, how it would affect property taxes, how it would impact the local school district, what police costs and other costs to the town it would add, and traffic impacts.

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What did Jay say?
By sag2harbor (117), sag harbor on Mar 29, 17 12:07 PM
... get with the program here. Every politician, from town council to the governor are extolling the virtues of "water preservation". It has become the single hottest topic on all political agendas. Why not in Southampton Town?
This non-permitted use is proposed in a fragile ecosystem over our fresh water aquifer adding nitrogen and pesticides to the drinking water and bays.The town board can allow this to happen thus overseeing the demise of the last clean bay on the south shore of Long Island, ...more
By William Rodney (561), southampton on Mar 29, 17 12:13 PM
3 members liked this comment
Curious, when did Supervisor Schneiderrman say this? Picture looks like it is at a Town meeting, but I don't remember him saying that.
By HB Proud (889), Hampton Bays on Mar 29, 17 12:29 PM
Are you kidding me? The new Suffolk County and Southampton septic system rules will make the alternative as-of-right even better environmentally. How far do we have to bend over backwards for this developer who threatened us with as-of-right alternative without environmental concerns if they didn't get their way? Eough already. REJECT THE PDD NOW !
By Taz (725), East Quogue on Mar 29, 17 1:41 PM
1 member liked this comment
The photo is at the Crohan Center community forum on 3rd party ambulance billing (March 23rd). I thought The Hills needed a super majority (4) because of the Planning Commission's NO vote.
By Earthgirl (52), Southampton on Mar 29, 17 1:44 PM
Just say NO!!!
By Bob Fraser (4), South Jamesport, on Mar 31, 17 8:24 AM
Why does the Press never include the Community Center and Event Hall with underground parking for 130 cars in its description of the PDD proposal? I also thought the PDD needed a supermajority to be approved. Ms. Bernocco, can you please veirfy and correct the facts in your article?
By Taz (725), East Quogue on Mar 29, 17 1:50 PM
1 member liked this comment
Countdown until 'Mark Hissey' appears here to tell us how spectacularly environmentally friendly this project will be and that DLC can just keep making little updates to the DEIS until everything is covered...
By adlkjd923ilifmac.aladfksdurwp (747), southampton on Mar 29, 17 3:55 PM
There is no affordable housing component on Jay's list?
By Toma Noku (616), Southampton on Mar 29, 17 5:09 PM
The increase of fertilizer and pesticides associated with a golf course is monumental. This is just common sense, apparently in short supply at Town Hall. No wonder the Dems sent Bridget Fleming to County Legislature, it's so much easier to take rich developer money if you have no environmentalists to object.
By dfree (818), hampton bays on Mar 29, 17 6:11 PM
1 member liked this comment
The increase vs. what? The status quo? Individual houses? What about the extraction of nitrogen and pesticides from existing ground water? Tests have shown that will result in a net decrease of those pollutants in the area.

Did you or many others here even know about that part of the plan? Would it make any difference to you or would you just create another "reason" to deny the application? You're here now so let's pull the gates shut, right?
By VOS (1241), WHB on Mar 29, 17 6:20 PM
1 member liked this comment
That is not accurate. Your statement "Tests have shown that will result in a net decrease of those pollutants in the area", is not true. No tests have been done, just a spreadsheet model created by the developer. The supervisor is quoted in this article as acknowledging his problem with the developers theory. It would be, at best, an experiment. Certainly we can't afford to experiment on this scale. And the usage of fertilizer and pesticides is a direct function of how many sq ft ...more
By CleanWater (122), East Quogue on Mar 29, 17 6:43 PM
You're either ignorant of the situation or intentionally passing incorrect information. Test wells have been drilled on the property and have identified and quantified the result of over a century of farming in the area. Computer modeling has identified the flow of underground water to Weesuck Creek and has determined that extracting that water for use on the Hills property will reduce the amount of pollutants reaching the bay.

You may not want the Hills built but if you're attempting ...more
By VOS (1241), WHB on Mar 30, 17 3:08 PM
1 member liked this comment
You are agreeing with me. "Computer modeling has identified the flow of underground water...". Not a tested process with historical results, an experiment.

The developer says his spreadsheet says this might work. Maybe, and only if the input numbers are right. There are those who say the input numbers are incorrect. Cutting down a pine barrens forest and hoping for the best doesn't sound like a reasonable risk/reward.
By CleanWater (122), East Quogue on Mar 30, 17 4:06 PM
NY Post:"Edward Norton, the thrice-Oscar-nominated actor, is helping his friend, real estate developer Mike Meldman, win approval for a controversial 600-acre golf resort in the Hamptons...."
By Toma Noku (616), Southampton on Mar 30, 17 1:37 AM
National Enquirer: "Christopher "Doc Brown" Lloyd, the Prime Time Emmy Award winning actor, is helping his friend, NIMBY activist Al Algieri, deny approval for a controversial 600-acre golf resort in the Hamptons..."
By VOS (1241), WHB on Apr 1, 17 2:08 PM
I can't wait for the fur to fly when the 3 J's vote yes on this project.

Writings on the wall...
By Draggerman (955), Southampton on Mar 30, 17 6:18 AM
Drag, that's just like saying you can't wait for the fur to fly when Donald Trump comes out in support of a single payer plan just to get something, anything, passed on health care -- same deal, not gonna happen.

You love to indulge in these fantasies about the ruin of the Dems, but that's all they are, fantasies. Seems a guy like you would be a little more connected to the real world, but I could be wrong.

About our friend Jay, there's a balance to be struck in governing. On ...more
By Turkey Bridge (1979), Quiogue on Mar 30, 17 9:50 AM
Fix is in. The Supervisor knows he won't be re-elected but he will need rich patrons for the next stop on his government career. As we all know, this is a real estate variance worth $100 million to the developers. Easy to toss some of that Jay's way, maybe a quick vacation in the Dominican Republic?
By dfree (818), hampton bays on Apr 3, 17 8:45 PM
I will personally campaign for Jay if he rejects this PDD. He will be considered a man if integrity. I'm sure many of the activists against the Hills will join me!
By Taz (725), East Quogue on Apr 4, 17 10:05 AM
12 Environmental groups opposed to the HILLS = 12 Groups - All will vote for Jay forever when he spearheads this rejection of this ridiculous PDD.

Jay for Governor !!!

When Gov. Coumo runs for President - on clean water and the environment - Jay is a natural to fill that important office.

What is more important than protecting our children, grandchildren, etc... from the various diseases caused by these chemicals!
By sag2harbor (117), sag harbor on May 3, 17 6:51 PM