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Dec 31, 2018 12:12 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Southampton Town Planning Board Searches For A Consultant On East Quogue Golf Proposal

Southampton Town Planning Board Chairman Dennis Finnerty and Vice Chairman John Blaney. PRESS FILE
Dec 31, 2018 2:20 PM

Southampton Town Planning Board members want to hire a consultant to decide whether a further environmental study will be needed for a proposal to build a private 18-hole golf course as part of a proposed luxury housing development in East Quogue.

The developers conducted a review under the State Environmental Quality Review Act, or SEQRA, for a similar proposal in 2017, when they were applying for a change in zone to a planned development district, a special zoning designation that would have required Town Board approval. The board failed to approve the application, but the SEQRA study found that a proposed development at that location would not have a significant impact on the environment if it followed certain criteria to mitigate harmful effects.

Land use experts hired by the applicant, Arizona-based Discovery Land Corporation, and the town’s Planning Department has said that changes made in the last year to plans for the 118-lot development aren’t enough to delay the application with an additional review under SEQRA.

But the Planning Board isn’t convinced.

Planning Board Chairman Dennis Finnerty said board members would be looking outside of the town for a firm that has not consulted previously for the town but still had expertise with SEQRA to determine whether a supplemental review was needed.

“We need to get a fresh pair of eyes on it,” Mr. Finnerty said. “No biases.”

In May, Discovery Land submitted a nearly identical proposal to the Planning Board for a planned residential district, with the golf course listed as an accessory recreational use. The board asked the Zoning Board of Appeals to weigh in on whether a private golf course could be considered an accessory use, and the ZBA signed off with a ruling in November.

Aspects of the proposed clubhouse, cottages, recreational complex, fitness center, 18-hole golf course and pool have changed since the PDD application. Unlike with the previous application, Discovery Land is no longer required to provide a slate of public benefits via the project. The clubhouse would be smaller, and employ less staff. Amenities would be available only to its residents, and there would be no outside golf memberships offered.

Discovery Land is setting aside a little more than 65 percent of the property, outside of the proposed developed area, as open space. The applicant has also proposed 10 on-site and two off-site affordable housing units.

In December, the Planning Department submitted a report saying it did not find that a supplemental SEQRA study is needed, based on those changes. However, the Planning Board is still seeking an opinion from an outside consultant.

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More buck-passing! Outrageous.Who picks the "unbiased" consultant?!?
By Taz (725), East Quogue on Dec 31, 18 12:37 PM
I'm sure Arizona Development knows how to investigate with highly paid detective agencies once someone is chosen.
By dfree (818), hampton bays on Dec 31, 18 1:39 PM
By jameshoge (6), Southampton on Dec 31, 18 4:35 PM
This was not a unanimous decision. I voted against. I believe very strongly in the depth and competence of our Land Planning Dept. and, in particular, the excellent Planner assigned to this application, Anthony Trezza. Adding yet another "consultant" to the mix opens up allegations from both sides of the issue. At some point we have to believe in and trust the good people we have hired at Town Hall to do the right thing--no matter which side of this application you favor.
By Capt. Phil (64), Southampton on Dec 31, 18 5:09 PM
2 members liked this comment
... how does adding a consultant open up allegations from both sides of the issue? By putting the word consultant in quotes are you doubting the ability of the Planning Board to hire someone who willl assess the projet objectively?
By William Rodney (561), southampton on Jan 1, 19 10:41 AM
1 member liked this comment
The Town Board voted "NO" to"The "Hills"...end of story. Thanks to Jay Schneiderman's meddling on behalf of Discovery, this application has now cost the taxpayers unnecessary expense.
The final outcome will be a court decision. Enough with another consultant.

I say... get rid of all these Boards in Southampton- except for the Town Board. Let these elected officials preside over all matters- that's what they get paid to do.
By HamptonClassic (132), Southampton on Dec 31, 18 6:04 PM
The town will now start the illegal obdtruction
By chief1 (2800), southampton on Dec 31, 18 6:27 PM
The PDD was rejected.In spite of this,Jay helps them with every angle he knows so they can get golf.Looks like ATH started a nightmare that will never end even though she's long gone. We will continue the fight against golf, David will slay Goliath!
By Taz (725), East Quogue on Jan 1, 19 11:37 AM
To continue ... If these Boards are deemed necessary and can not be dissolved, then Board Members should not be appointed, but should go through an election / debate process. That way, the voters will have a voice and will know who is representing them.
By HamptonClassic (132), Southampton on Jan 1, 19 12:19 PM
It seems to me that the Hills project has highlighted a dysfunction government structure. We have 5 Town Board members voted "at large" - not representing any district appointing members to zoning and planning boards based on political alliance - not necessary knowledge of issues or hamlets. It seems to be that it is only a matter of time that this actual structure of the Town Government needs to be challenged in court.
By G.A.Lombardi (575), Hampton Bays on Jan 2, 19 8:30 AM
2 members liked this comment
With due regard to Captain Phil (above), whom I like and respect, we disagree on this matter. Though not a unanimous decision, the motion to seek an independent consultant was supported by five of the Planning Board's seven members, if I'm reading the record of the Dec. 13 meeting correctly.

The Town's Land Planning Department is no doubt competent, but it is not their mission to do the Planning Board's job for it. As one member asked on December 13, if the Board is to depend completely ...more
By Turkey Bridge (1979), Quiogue on Jan 2, 19 12:00 PM
1 member liked this comment
George, I agree with Captain Phil. And I feel that hiring a consultant is a slippery slope. If the board needs a consultant for this, they may need a consultant full time. It will be like the Sag Harbor ARB. Nothing happens on that board without Studenroths (The Historical Architectural consultant) approval. The Planning board has some very knowledgeable town planners, Anthony is very good at his job, as is Kyle.

I understand your concern, you've been against development of any kind in ...more
By Draggerman (955), Southampton on Jan 3, 19 10:05 AM
Hi Drag, Happy New Year. I'm not "against development of any kind in East Quogue" as you say, but I am against this Discovery project for the many reasons that you and I and numerous others have debated for a long while now.

It is not a slippery slope to hire a consultant for the biggest project currently pending, probably the biggest project ever proposed in this town. That sets no precedent whatever for other, run-of-the-mill applications; there's no comparison.

As I've asked, ...more
By Turkey Bridge (1979), Quiogue on Jan 3, 19 3:42 PM
political flunkies no true knowledge or expertise.. get rid of these inept boards and hire knowlegeable consultants as needed.
By tinboat (17), hampton bays on Jan 2, 19 6:34 PM