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Feb 14, 2018 9:12 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Public Hearing Next Week Begins New Phase For Proposed Golf Course Development In East Quogue

The property in East Quogue.
Feb 14, 2018 11:27 AM

A new round of public hearings for The Hills at Southampton, a proposed golf course and residential development off Spinney Road in East Quogue, will begin next week—though before a different board, and with new rules.

Southampton Town Planning Board Chairman Dennis Finnerty said he expects a large, passionate crowd to attend the hearing, which will be held Thursday, February 22, at 6 p.m. inside the auditorium at Town Hall—much like the Town Board hearings on The Hills, which attracted hundreds of people.

But Mr. Finnerty said he is committed to ending the evening meeting by 9 p.m., at which point the Planning Board will decide whether to keep the hearing open for another meeting or close it and begin a 30-day period where written comments would be allowed.

The proposal is the only public hearing on next Thursday’s agenda, due to the anticipated crowd it will draw.

But there is another key difference between the Planning Board hearings and the ones held before the Town Board in 2017: As Mr. Finnerty plans to emphasize at the start of the hearing, the developer, Arizona-based Discovery Land Company, is making a very different request of his board.

The Town Board had been considering a planned development district, special zoning only it could grant at the time to allow uses that would otherwise not be permitted under existing zoning. Since the PDD for The Hills failed to win the necessary support of the board, the law creating the PDD has been eliminated from the books.

The PDD law had given the Town Board wide discretion in evaluating the proposal and deciding whether the special zoning was warranted. But while the Planning Board still intends to take public comment into consideration, it has to put more emphasis on the underlying zoning for the property and the stringent state environmental quality review process, or SEQRA, Mr. Finnerty said, adding, “I think that would be the most significant change from the Town Board.”

At the hearing, he expects that there may be a “significant learning curve” for the public, as some people may assume that the hearing is merely a continuation of the former application for The Hills, since there are some similarities—but it is not. Though the plan still proposes a 118-unit residential subdivision and an 18-hole golf course on nearly 600 acres in East Quogue, it is now pitched as a Planned Residential Development, or PRD.

Changing one letter, from PDD to PRD, means a much bigger change in the process, as Mr. Finnerty said he will clarify at the beginning of the hearing. “There’s a lot of emotion surrounding the prior application, and we understand some of that emotion will come to this application.”

A pre-application has been submitted by Discovery Land Company seeking a PRD, which is granted by the Planning Board for residential subdivisions. The company asserts that a private golf course can be legally constructed as an amenity for a subdivision’s residents without requiring a change of zone or any other variances from the town. The portion of the town code allowing a “recreational use” on a portion of a subdivision’s property permits the construction of such amenities, the company will argue.

In addition to the golf course in the new proposal, the developer also wants to build an assortment of other amenities: a clubhouse, a pool, a spacious lawn for outdoor events, a putting green, a boathouse, a playground, and four tennis and pickleball courts.

While the proposal for 118 units and a 18-hole golf course is the developer’s “preferred proposal,” according to the pre-application documents, the developer has offered a secondary option: No golf course, and a total of 137 units—a mix of clubhouse units, club cabins and single-family estates—on the same land. In exchange for the additional density, the developer would agree to set aside 13 of the units as workforce housing, using a section of the property that is away from the main development. That part of the property was targeted for preservation as part of the rejected PDD proposal.

Mark Hissey, a vice president for Discovery Land Company, could not be reached for comment prior to next week’s hearing.

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The meeting was scheduled for Thursday February 22, NEXT WEEK. Did this change?????
By Taz (725), East Quogue on Feb 14, 18 10:53 AM
1 member liked this comment
The last article in the Press, dated Jan 17, indeed said:

"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."

Sneaky sneaky sneaky!
Feb 14, 18 10:55 AM appended by Fore1gnBornHBgrown
Thank you editors for the timely correction! We were getting our pitchforks ready!
By Fore1gnBornHBgrown (8265), HAMPTON BAYS on Feb 14, 18 10:55 AM
The meeting is scheduled for February 22. Thanks for pointing that out! It is fixed in the article
By Amanda Bernocco (2), Shirley on Feb 14, 18 12:39 PM
1 member liked this comment
No zoning change, no variances, as of right only!
By bigfresh (4666), north sea on Feb 14, 18 11:15 AM
2 members liked this comment
Feb 22 it is. Thx for the correction!
By Taz (725), East Quogue on Feb 14, 18 11:38 AM
Even if the law does permit an 18-hole golf course as an amenity under the heading of a “recreational use” — an unprecedented and very doubtful proposition — the core issue is still whether an 18-hole golf course is a good or bad thing in this particular place above the aquifer and the Shinnecock Bay watershed. The Planning Board will do well in this connection to consult the comments of Council members John Bouvier and Julie Lofstad respecting their negative votes on the ...more
By Turkey Bridge (1979), Quiogue on Feb 14, 18 5:59 PM
1 member liked this comment
Are you f**king kidding me, George?

This is NEW application. Why should the people that shot down a PDD be consulted for this application? Are you suggesting that the town board should meddle in a planning board hearing?
By Draggerman (955), Southampton on Feb 15, 18 9:12 PM

ahhhhh hahahahahahha. Calm down dragman. I'm sure the planning board will want information from everyone who has done research related to a golf course being built in spinney hills...what would you suggest as an alternative
By adlkjd923ilifmac.aladfksdurwp (747), southampton on Feb 16, 18 10:49 AM
... the longer this thing drags on, the more the property decreases in value.
By William Rodney (561), southampton on Feb 16, 18 2:49 PM
1 member liked this comment