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Nov 14, 2017 10:59 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Southampton Town Board Pushes Votes On The Hills Findings Statement And PDD To December

Southampton Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman during a public hearing on Monday night. AMANDA BERNOCCO
Nov 14, 2017 3:21 PM

A vote on the findings statement for The Hills at Southampton golf course resort development in East Quogue—the last hurdle before the Southampton Town Board can take action on the application itself—was pushed off for the second time in as many months on Monday night, with the board’s two Republican members saying the document is incomplete.

Board members now are scheduled to vote to accept the findings statement, the last step in a required state environmental review, at a special meeting at 1 p.m. on Tuesday, December 5, at Southampton Town Hall. At the same meeting, they also are expected to vote on the formal application, which requires the approval of special zoning called a planned development district. The findings statement needs only a majority vote to be approved, while the PDD application requires the support of four Town Board members, known as a supermajority.

At Monday’s hearing, for the first time, representatives of the East Quogue School District offered their opinion of the project, urging Town Board members to approve the PDD, saying that they preferred that option over another large subdivision.

Steven A. Goodstadt, an attorney at Ingerman Smith LLP in Hauppauge, who represents the school district, stated its position that the golf course community would have the least impact on the school.

“If the school population is forced to increase, it will hurt the facility, it will hurt the staff, and most of all it will hurt the students,” Mr. Goodstadt said.

Monday’s vote was tabled at the request of Councilwoman Christine Scalera and Councilman Stan Glinka. The Republican board members asserted that the findings statement was not complete because it did not include comments from all required interested parties—a list that includes the Suffolk County Planning Commission, the Pine Barrens Commission, and the Southampton Town Planning Board and Conservation Board.

Both the county’s Planning Commission and the town’s Planning Board have supported the project—albeit with some conditions related to its potential impact on the environment—while the Pine Barrens Commission declined to make a recommendation until the application was formally in front of its board. The town’s Conservation Board has yet to offer its opinion; it has until Wednesday, November 22, to send its comments for consideration.

Southampton Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman, Councilwoman Julie Lofstad and Councilman John Bouvier all said they were prepared to vote on the findings statement on Monday night. Mr. Schneiderman said he planned to vote in favor, while Mr. Bouvier and Ms. Lofstad planned to vote against the document, citing concerns with its potential environmental impacts. The two also are considered “no” votes on the PDD application, which would be enough to kill it.

The developer, Arizona-based Discovery Land Company is seeking permission from the Town Board for a PDD, a special change of zone, to build the 18-hole private golf course and 118 luxury houses.

The findings statement vote had already been postponed once in October due to the developer’s failure to properly notify the community. It was the responsibility of the applicant, Discovery Land Company, to post signs and mail notices to the community at least 14 days before that hearing, which had been scheduled for a special meeting on October 19 at the East Quogue Elementary School. But in a letter sent to board members a few days before the scheduled meeting from the developer’s attorneys, it was revealed that the developers had failed to notice the hearing on time.

Wayne Bruyn, an attorney with O’Shea, Marcincuk and Bruyn LLP in Southampton, who is representing Discovery Land Company, acknowledged the firm’s mistake regarding notice of the earlier hearing.

“I want to apologize to the Town Board both personally and professionally,” Mr. Bruyn said on Monday from the podium while standing before board members and approximately 200 attendees. “The public hearing previously scheduled for October 19, our office failed to get the over 1,200 mailings prepared in time to get that out, and it caused the adjournment of this hearing.”

He also stated that the board should approve his client’s project, noting that the developer took all of the recommendations made during previous public hearings and applied them to its proposal.

At the hearing on Monday, speakers both for and against the proposal spoke, as they have at earlier hearings and other discussions of the project. But at least one new entity was heard from.

As Mr. Goodstadt addressed the Town Board on behalf of East Quogue School District officials, Superintendent Robert Long and a few members of the School Board—including President Chris Hudson, Vice President Jessica Stalters and member Brian Babcock—stood behind him.

Mr. Goodstadt said the addition of more students to the school would be a “cataclysmic disaster” for the district.

Under the PDD proposal, homeowners would be asked to sign a covenant that says The Hills is a seasonal community—thus preventing homeowners from establishing it as their primary residence, and enrolling children in the school.

The as-of-right subdivision—which calls for 137 units and a clubhouse with sports fields but no golf course—would not have such a covenant, meaning that more children could enroll at the elementary school as a result.

Until Monday night, Mr. Long and the School Board had remained tight-lipped about the project, noting only that they were paying close attention to the application and its potential impacts on their school.

Under the PDD proposal the school district would receive a number of benefits from the developer, including a $500,000 cash donation, student scholarships and added tax revenue from the development.

In 2015, Mr. Long put his signature on a letter from Discovery Land Company to acknowledge that he is aware of the potential benefits to the school. At the time, Mr. Long stressed that the signed statement was not meant to be an indication of the district’s support for the project.

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Why does the Press continue to identify councilpersons as Republican or Democrat. Once someone is elected, they should just be an elected official. The party politics over issues facing our community really needs to stop and it needs to start with the Southampton Press.
By HB Proud (889), Hampton Bays on Nov 14, 17 11:20 AM
Continue to identify the council members with their party,did you notice it was the Republicans who requested the vote be postponed.I wonder why.
By watchdog1 (543), Southampton on Nov 14, 17 11:42 AM
By HB Proud (889), Hampton Bays on Nov 14, 17 11:59 AM
Trying to exert some behind the scenes pressure perhaps?
By bigfresh (4666), north sea on Nov 14, 17 5:42 PM
Stop the Kabuki dance and get on with it! Compare the PDD environmental effects, including the fertigation benefits, with the newly filed plan for 137+ home development that MUST have the latest nitrogen reduction systems available.

If Suffolk County and the Town of Southampton endorse these systems, indeed offer to subsidize or pay for them in certain circumstances, they should be required as part of the as of right alternative.

Then we can compare apples to apples environmental ...more
By kjmraven (19), East Quogue on Nov 14, 17 7:44 PM
Why require a higher standard here than anywhere else in the County? How would doing so be equitable to the property owner? What do you think the reaction to that would be in a court of law?

Schools certainly must teach those kids residing within their district but that can definitely come at the expense of new infrastructure and more staffing. Who will pay for that? On the other hand, if a development precludes families from living there throughout the year who will set their child ...more
By VOS (1241), WHB on Nov 14, 17 8:08 PM
1 member liked this comment
Do any of the Hills advocates really think that 139 5 ACRE homes will sell in the Quogue woods? Close to 2 Million each is a conservative figure.
By bigfresh (4666), north sea on Nov 15, 17 6:34 AM
I honestly wish back in the day, this land was preserved. However, we don't have a time machine as some people seem to think exists. We should deal with the reality of the facts as we know them today. I think the as of right is a viable alternative and will attract a potential buyer that wants to feel like they live in the "old" farm-like east end, while still having all the amenities of the new east end. That is a very convenient location from points east and west.
By HB Proud (889), Hampton Bays on Nov 15, 17 6:51 AM
Look at the amenities, Fresh. These homes wouldn't be for you and me, they're vacation properties for the wealthy who want a summer getaway in the Hamptons.
By Fore1gnBornHBgrown (8265), HAMPTON BAYS on Nov 15, 17 7:06 AM
1 member liked this comment
my point is that it's very unlikely that this development will sell out and the partial build out will have less impact than the PDD. 2mill is a lot to spend to live in Spinney Hills.
By bigfresh (4666), north sea on Nov 15, 17 7:18 AM
Yes, 2 mil is too much for you and me to spend to live there. But it's not people who are going to live there who will buy the homes, and to them 2 mil is not too much to spend for a property in the Hamptons.
By Fore1gnBornHBgrown (8265), HAMPTON BAYS on Nov 15, 17 7:41 AM
1 member liked this comment
There are recent sales on Honeysuckle and Polo Grounds in excess of 1.5M now.. There are 3-5 acre lots that have been sold adjoining Southampton Pines on the cul de sacs (Malloy, Candace etc.) for around 450k. Again, if you're not from East Quogue- and you don't have a horse in this race- why put your 2 cents in?

The district does not need more students, and the as of right proposal is something that will NOT benefit EQ residents OR have the environmental benefits the Hills proposes. Also- ...more
By EastEnder3 (12), East Quogue on Nov 15, 17 6:15 PM
1 member liked this comment
In addition to what Lion stated, the golf course portion would be heavily monitored. Living in North Sea we never hear of any issues with the Golf at the Bridge. It is constantly monitored sitting atop the aquifer. I think that all the No people are making an environmental mistake. As of right places no controls on those homeowners and just another "suburban like" subdivision, that the area has loads of will soon dot the landscape. Lots of landscapers will come in with there fertilizer to make the ...more
By North Sea Citizen (568), North Sea on Nov 15, 17 6:53 AM
Smh at all these posts from folks that do not live in East Quogue yet feel it prudent to knock down the only proposal on this land that addresses environmental and school tax concerns.

How does the as of right proposal help at all? How does the approval of 137 units plus another 30 on the Parlato property help groundwater? School taxes?
By EastEnder3 (12), East Quogue on Nov 15, 17 7:51 AM
1 member liked this comment
The golf course seems to be the better alternative for many reasons over the as of right. Those with the time machines are hoping and praying that nothing gets built. I think they are going to be sadly mistaken at the expense not only the vitality of East Quogue and hopefully some spillover to Hampton Bays, but the environment that they are so strongly trying to protect. Even if it is school population neutral, those in opposition are giving up all the community benefits without any benefit to ...more
By HB Proud (889), Hampton Bays on Nov 15, 17 8:47 AM
"Beware of Greeks bearing gifts." The same could be said about The Discovery Land Company. The Town's Code Enforcement cannot enforce the laws that are on the books now.........so just who is going the monitor "The Hills?" I can only imagine how much the housing would go for on 5 acre plots. The affluent typically send their children to private schools, not public ones.
By crusader (391), East Quogue on Nov 15, 17 9:59 AM
"Don't look a gift horse in the mouth". I agree about the code enforcement, but I don't think you can compare it to the monitoring at the Hills - apples and oranges. As my post indicated, even if the school enrollment is revenue neutral, you all are turning away the community benefits as well as the enhanced septic. Those in opposition are betting that on no development. If the PDD doesn't go through, only time will tell if that bet paid off.
By HB Proud (889), Hampton Bays on Nov 15, 17 10:27 AM
only after they squash the life out of Hampton Bays.
By HB Proud (889), Hampton Bays on Nov 15, 17 7:08 PM
At the hearing on Nov. 13, many East Quogue taxpayers asked the Town Board to approve The Hills, because they fear a deluge of new students in EQ if The Hills is turned down and the as of right development is built instead. On the other hand, they expect a break on their school tax bills if the project is approved, providing a big boost to the tax base with no new kids in the school.

Among other things, I told those EQ taxpayers that Discovery is playing them from both sides ...more
By Turkey Bridge (1979), Quiogue on Nov 18, 17 9:39 PM
It doesn't matter what you told them, Turkey, nobody believes you anyway. Too many tales told that are untrue - next you'll be shouting the dike is leaking.

Discovery has laid out all the truths, you just find it to your benefit to have your own version. Why no warnings of poisoned water today?

Discovery certainly can tell owners when, and for how long, they can use their properties and that does not mesh well with a full time school schedule.

Stop trying to blatantly ...more
By VOS (1241), WHB on Nov 19, 17 12:39 PM
VOS, you are trying to reason with TB when he is unreasonable. It is a waste of time. Sadly, some people in Hampton Bays and East Quogue believe the political hacks in our community and now we will all pay the price. I don't agree that the Master Plans are as relevant as you do since some of them are 20 years old, but I do agree that the Town Board should be making their decision on the facts and options presented and not some option that doesn't exist.
By HB Proud (889), Hampton Bays on Nov 19, 17 1:06 PM
TB is 100% correct. The covenant will never stand up in court. Nor do the homeowners of the Hills have to abide by it. They can change the covenant which will be in their homeowners association document any time they wish. Discovery will have no leverage over the homeowners assn. PERIOD.
By Taz (725), East Quogue on Nov 19, 17 1:06 PM
You have never demonstrated you have any understanding of what is in the EIS, the finding statement, the master plan or any other documentation related to this project. You have now shown you do not understand the restrictions in place that make it impractical for school aged children to reside there.

Perhaps you should actually refrain from commenting until you become familiar with the material available to you that would keep you from making such nonsensical statements.
By VOS (1241), WHB on Nov 20, 17 9:15 AM
Covenants of a homeowner's assn can be changed any time by its members. DLC has no power over the docs of a homeowner's assn once established. PERIOD. You know not of what you speak.
By Taz (725), East Quogue on Nov 20, 17 12:19 PM
Covenants hold up all the time in court if properly negotiated and drafted. There is a different between a condo bylaws and covenants on the land use that should be negotiated and drafted with the outside oversight agency (Town, County, State) and the condo association. These documents are filed with all oversight agencies. I am not sure where you are getting your legal advice.
By HB Proud (889), Hampton Bays on Nov 20, 17 1:14 PM
Homeowner'sAssn docs r not condo bylaws.They are filed with gov't agencies, but can be rewritten by the H/O assn. Courts will uphold covenants in force at the time of violation. If the H/O Assn changes the docs, the new covenants will be the ones the courts uphold. Old rules are out the window. So a DLC promise of a restrictive covenant holds only as long as the H/O Assn chooses to keep it.
By Taz (725), East Quogue on Nov 20, 17 1:40 PM