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Jan 11, 2018 4:03 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Public Hearing Set For Discovery Land Subdivision In East Quogue

Jan 17, 2018 10:28 AM

The developer behind a rejected luxury golf resort targeting nearly 600 acres in East Quogue—an application that would have required a change of zone—is now seeking permission to build an 118-unit subdivision and an 18-hole golf course, insisting that the latter is permitted under current zoning.

Representatives of Discovery Land Company, the Arizona developer behind the rejected Hills at Southampton golf resort, now have an application before the Southampton Town Planning Board that states that a private golf course can legally be constructed without requiring a zoning change or any variances from the town. Rather, they are arguing that the “recreational use” portion of the town code permits the construction of such recreational amenities.

The pre-application filed last month by the developer—two weeks after the Town Board rejected its request for approval of special zoning called a planned development district, or PDD—also offers a secondary option. That option, called a planned residential district, or PRD, seeks permission to build 137 units—a mix of clubhouse units, club cabins, and a variety of single-family estates—on the same land. In exchange for the additional density, the developer would agree to build 13 workforce housing units on a section of the property that is away from the main development and originally targeted for preservation as part of the rejected PDD.

A public hearing before the Planning Board on the pre-application will be held on Thursday, February 22, at 6 p.m. at Southampton Town Hall. The pre-application will be the sole public hearing on the agenda that night, according to officials, because of the anticipated widespread interest in the property. The town held four heavily attended public hearings over several months on the original PDD application, forums that attracted hundreds of people.

Mark Hissey, a vice president with Discovery Land Company, said in an interview on Monday that the developers are moving forward with their alternate plan even though he still thinks the PDD should have been approved, stating that he believes a golf course is still the best use of the property.

“The environmental impact statement and the town’s own findings determined that,” said Mr. Hissey, referring to the Planning Board’s opinion of the original PDD when it was before the Town Board.

“There is absolutely no question that what we proposed is the best use for the property,” Mr. Hissey continued. “And the town’s own experts agreed with that.”

Though he has previously suggested that Discovery Land will sue the town over the PDD rejection, Mr. Hissey would not offer any update on that front this week. “We’ll see where things take us,” he added.

In addition to a private golf course, the current proposal also calls for other recreational amenities, including a clubhouse, a pool, a spacious lawn for outdoor events, a putting green, a boathouse, a playground, and four tennis and pickleball courts. Though there are two options listed, the pre-application now on file with the Planning Board notes that the 118-unit subdivision with a golf course is the developer’s “preferred plan.”

“We would definitely still prefer the golf course and the 118 units,” Mr. Hissey confirmed this week.

Unlike the failed PDD that required the support of four of five Town Board members—the measure failed 3-2—the new application does not require the approval of the Town Board, according to Mr. Hissey. He also noted that current zoning—most of the land is zoned five-acre residential—permits the addition of some recreational amenities, like a private golf course.

Planning Board Chairman Dennis Finnerty said on Tuesday that the golf course is being reviewed as a recreational amenity—similar to swimming pools and tennis courts. He noted that Town Attorney James Burke and the members of the Planning Board are currently reviewing the code to see if the proposed golf course falls under the recreational use. “This is the first time we had a golf course,” Mr. Finnerty said.

However, the board has approved private putting greens and partial golf courses in the past, officials noted.

In the fall, and prior to the Town Board’s rejection of the PDD, representatives of Discovery Land Company began exploring other potential options for the property. In November, Wayne D. Bruyn, a Southampton attorney representing the developer, sent a letter to Town Hall inquiring about a little-used zoning designation called an “open space conservation and park district.” The zoning designation allows “land in public and private ownership” to be set aside for recreational uses like tennis courts, nature preserves and parks—and, the town code specifies, golf courses.

Principal Planner Anthony Trezza, who has the application, said this week that the Planning Board would be reviewing the 18-hole golf course use as part of the pre-application process. He and Mr. Finnerty noted that the Planning Board would have the final say on the new application; Town Board approval is not required.

“It’s a pretty straight-forward as-of-right development plan,” Mr. Finnerty added.

Under the rejected PDD, Discovery Land Company would have been required to provide an assortment of community benefits in exchange for the zone change. Those benefits—which are now voided—included monetary contributions to the East Quogue School District for assorted upgrades and the financing of nitrogen-reducing measures—such as the introduction of new shellfish—to nearby Shinnecock Bay.

Additionally, the developer had promised to purchase a separate 33-acre lot along Montauk Highway in East Quogue and preserve the land. That sale contract, however, was contingent on the granting of the PDD. The status of that deal was not immediately clear.

According to Mr. Trezza, once next month’s public hearing is closed, Planning Board members will adopt a pre-application report and identify any potential issues with the proposal that need to be addressed before it can move forward.

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... these people proposed what they thought was the most environmentally sensitive project before the town in the form of their PDD, and they got hammered.

Do they really think they are going to now propose something that is worse and get approval?

Enough, stop wasting everybody’s time. Get out of town ,while the gettin’ is good.

By William Rodney (561), southampton on Jan 11, 18 5:05 PM
1 member liked this comment
Um, if this meets current zoning regs then they can build it. What part of that do people not get?
By G (342), Southampton on Jan 11, 18 7:23 PM
Take a look at the setback requirements of the current zoning.
By MikeMirino (10), east quogue on Jan 12, 18 4:44 PM
I love the arrogance of the NIMBY Libtard.

Shooting down the Hills was a horrible mistake. Much like shooting down Tuckahoe center.

We now have pissed off developers that are going to build the worst thing they can under the zoning laws...
By Draggerman (955), Southampton on Jan 11, 18 8:37 PM
So we should let developers do whatever they want? HMM i guess you think it would be ok with you if the east end becomes another Jersey Shore. How about some 30 story condos on Dune Rd. Clearly, you don't understand what a special the east end is if you are willing to sell whats left of it to the highest bitter.
By JM11968 (71), southampton on Jan 12, 18 1:07 AM
Of course developers should not be able to build whatever they want but their properties are permitted to be developed and they will be developed. We can react to their proposals with kneejerk reactions in an attempt to prevent all building or we can be realistic and weigh the realistic options and work with them to create projects with little or no negative impact on our populace and resources.

Your condo scenario is far beyond realistic but illustrates the ignorance of those who believe ...more
By VOS (1241), WHB on Jan 12, 18 3:33 AM
i'm not suggesting we should have no development just smart development. 5 ace zoning and up zoning areas is Smart! Furthermore, ,I for one would be for promoting water front resort dinning in HB is a great idea but the town stupidly voted for 37 condos.
By JM11968 (71), southampton on Jan 12, 18 11:49 AM
Good luck selling 5 acre lots in Spinney Hills !!
By bigfresh (4666), north sea on Jan 11, 18 9:05 PM
1 member liked this comment
Yea, more up-zoning to further price out the locals
By smacw (240), New York on Jan 23, 18 10:49 AM
Let's hope that it adds another 100 children to the school system.
By tenn tom (259), remsenburg on Jan 12, 18 7:29 AM
Where is the golf course going to be? Is there a way to register for a membership?
By adlkjd923ilifmac.aladfksdurwp (747), southampton on Jan 12, 18 10:26 AM
it's doubtful that there are enough buyers willing to purchase multi million dollar, 5 acre properties in the back woods of East Quogue to sell out this project. The impact will be much less than the gloom and doomers are predicting.
By bigfresh (4666), north sea on Jan 12, 18 11:03 AM
5 acre zoning doesnt mean that each lot has to be 5 acres.
By adlkjd923ilifmac.aladfksdurwp (747), southampton on Jan 12, 18 11:12 AM
CR 200 Zoning (Country Residence)
Lot minimum area per home 200,000 sq. ft.
Lot minimum width 200'
Side yard minimum 50' of a required total of 125'
Front yard 100'

Without special permission no golf.
No golf = weak interest
By MikeMirino (10), east quogue on Jan 12, 18 4:55 PM
1 member liked this comment
Are you suggesting that a grid of five acre lots should be constructed with each and every condition you list required for each and every lot or can you agree that utilizing the same total area and clustering smaller lots with less pavement and more contiguous open space would be more beneficial to the environment?

Be careful what you wish for, as the Hills opponents should have been.
By VOS (1241), WHB on Jan 16, 18 12:51 PM
1 member liked this comment
How about a law for all developments of greater than 100 units that requires that the developer post a bond that finances the supply of fresh water for 1000 years to all local residents affected by any future pollution caused by the development. That would be assessed and owed before the bulldozers are unleashed.
By dfree (818), hampton bays on Jan 15, 18 12:07 PM
2 members liked this comment
If a zoning change was not required for the purpose of building the golf course, why did the developer file for the PDD in the first place?
By adlkjd923ilifmac.aladfksdurwp (747), southampton on Jan 17, 18 3:56 PM
2 members liked this comment
More units, to tip their investment return to a higher target
By smacw (240), New York on Jan 23, 18 10:52 AM
it looks like the pdd application actually called for fewer units than this more recent proposal
By adlkjd923ilifmac.aladfksdurwp (747), southampton on Jan 23, 18 3:11 PM
cheap tee times for locals?
By smacw (240), New York on Jan 23, 18 10:53 AM
There is a long waiting list for Membership in the Westhampton CC. There is no way to gain membership at National, Shinnecock or the Southampton Country Clubs. So if you want to live on the South Shore portion of the East End and don't want to sit in traffic for 3 pr 4 hours on a Friday Night to go to Montauk or Bridgehampton or take a helicopters to your summer home and you want to be a member of a private golf club there may be a a market for 100 multi-millionaire golfers in East Quogue. If done ...more
By Ernie (88), Hampton Bays on Jan 25, 18 10:39 AM
the developer has the right to develop their property, period. the original proposal would have protected a large majority of the property...the rest mostly open controlled space (golf course), regularly overseen by town inspectors. you can ask them what they do with the existing courses...very stringent inspections. So now we have the obvious outcome based on bad politics and short sighted opposition. I back the sanctity of private property and the right to develop same. I'll sit back and wait ...more
By tom (53), Hampton Bays on Jan 26, 18 9:32 AM
1 member liked this comment
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By adlkjd923ilifmac.aladfksdurwp (747), southampton on Jan 26, 18 10:02 AM