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Aug 16, 2019 4:18 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Application For 120-Unit Development In North Sea Met With Stark Opposition

Southampton Town Hall was packed with people who were against a proposal to construct 120  condominiums in North Sea along Majors Path. GREG WEHNER
Aug 20, 2019 12:49 PM

A mob of angry residents packed Southampton Town Hall last week to oppose an application in front of the Zoning Board of Appeals to allow the owner of a North Sea property to construct 120 condominiums on a 20-acre parcel of land that was once the site of the town’s dump.

Located at 1205 Majors Path Road, the property is zoned R-60, or 1.5-acre residential zoning — meaning that one home could be built for every acre and a half of land — which would allow up to 13 single-family homes on the lot under existing zoning.

Instead, the owner, listed as the Thomas R. Stachecki Living Trust, is looking to construct a development with nearly 10 times that many units.

The matter was placed on hold for at least six months by the ZBA to allow time for an in-depth study of the environmental impact the proposal could have before any action is taken.

If the ZBA grants permission for the use, and the Planning Board signs off, the development would consist of 22 buildings, a two-story clubhouse, tennis and pickleball courts, and a swimming pool. Each of the units would include two bedrooms.

Between the 1930s and 1963, the property was used as a town dump. The town abandoned the property’s use as a dump when it moved the operations across the street. Since then, the land has been used as a dumping grounds for natural and organic waste — things like leaves, branches, brush and grass clippings.

The owner has also been operating a mulching facility at the location — and, according to the State Department of Environmental Conservation, he has been doing so without a permit.

The applicant is seeking the nonconforming use, with more density, arguing that it will be beneficial to the community because it will clean up a site with “a history of complaints from neighboring property owners referring to the noxious use of the property as a dump,” according to its application. Remediation of the site would be done by the owner as part of its development.

Thursday night, August 15, was the first time the application was before the ZBA.

Adam Grossman, the chairman of the board, told those in attendance that he would allow them to speak, but he asked them to understand that the application is unusual, because it seeks to allow the owner to eliminate one use that does not conform to zoning, as a dump, by allowing another nonconforming use, as a multifamily development.

Mr. Grossman also told the crowd of 50-plus people that the application would be required to go through the State Environmental Quality Review Act, or SEQRA, process, and that many of their questions may be answered through that.

But that did not stop residents from the surrounding neighborhood, as well as those who live adjacent to the property, from raising concerns to the board.

Sag Harbor-based attorney Alex Kriegsman, who said he represents some of the neighbors, told the ZBA that, under the code, its members are supposed to consider the impact to the neighborhood, and impacts on the environment, and whether either would be substantial.

“There’s a reason why all these folks are here tonight, and why you needed to bring out extra chairs, because this application … it will literally destroy the neighborhood that these folks live in,” he said. “This is a residential neighborhood with a rural character to it, and this is a proposal to build 120 condominium units on 20 acres.”

He asked the board what kind of precedent would be set if it allowed the developer to come in and clean the site and do as he or she wishes — build a “skyscraper”?

Anthony Dreyer, who lives behind the proposed development, said he purchased a home in the area because it was wooded, protected and had a unique character. He said he is concerned that the density and increased number of cars would take away that character.

He asked the crowd how many people thought the development would be beneficial to the community — and not one hand went up.

“Not a single person of the 50 who are here from Cove Neck kept their hand up, because nobody in their right mind, nobody who lives here, nobody whose kids play here, thinks this is beneficial to the community,” Mr. Dreyer said.

He continued, saying he was not against development, as his home, as well as nearly everyone else’s in the room, was built on land that was cleared. The difference, he explained, is that they follow existing zoning, and the developer would not if the application were to be approved.

“This developer does not want to do that, and the reason is clear,” he said. “They’ll make more money if they don’t follow the law. If they want to adhere to the law, like we do, that’s fine. But they should be held to the same standards the entire community has. They should not destroy our community with this project.”

Nearly 20 people spoke out against the project, calling out concerns about traffic, the toxicity of the site, the impact on home values, impact on the schools, and, like Mr. Dreyer, stated it would not be beneficial to the community.

Marilyn Zaretsky, who lives near the proposed project, told the board that any development is supposed to be beneficial to the neighborhood.

She told members that she purchased her home because it was in a quiet neighborhood. Over the years, water pressure is down, there are more power outages, and the traffic has increased, she said, pointing to increased development as the culprit.

Charlie Corwith, who lives across the street from the property, raised similar concerns to those of his neighbors: “It’s going to ruin the neighborhood if you put 120 condominiums in there.”

At the request of attorney David Gilmartin Jr., who is representing the developer, ZBA members adjourned the application for six months so that the Planning Board could take lead agency status under SEQRA and allow for a full environmental study to be completed.

A date of March 5, 2020, was set as the next hearing on the matter in front of the ZBA, though Mr. Grossman told everyone in attendance that nothing is guaranteed to happen in March if the Planning Board is still dealing with the application.

While the application is adjourned, the public hearing was left open for the public to submit written comments.

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We do not need 120 units x 2 (min) occupants = 240 adding 240 cars to daily traffic flow on majors path. It’s nonsense!
By 67CRANE (3), southampton on Aug 16, 19 4:33 PM
1 member liked this comment
Perhaps the real intention is to get the community vehemently opposed to a project that is grossly out of scale so that the truly intended project represents a compromise. Sales 101 -- ask high and "compromise" with the deal you wanted.
By Aeshtron (431), Southampton on Aug 16, 19 6:01 PM
A lot of the comments sound just like what the people of Hampton Bays said about all the illegal rentals in their hamlet. Just because those rentals happen to be filled with illegal immigrants, the HB residents are called racist. What shall we call these nimby whiners in North Sea?
By Babyboo (293), Hampton Bays on Aug 16, 19 7:32 PM
1 member liked this comment
Too much of any "good" thing...
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Aug 17, 19 3:08 AM
Are these 120 units supposed to be affordable housing? I can't imagine luxury housing on or near an old landfill.
Sounds like another opportunity for the CPF to throw some money away.
By Funbeer (273), Southampton on Aug 17, 19 5:18 AM
Make sure you include the costs of the class action lawsuits from the contamination and related health problems.
By even flow (1023), East Hampton on Aug 17, 19 6:59 AM
2 members liked this comment
ummm , NO!! Build as of right or not at all, how freaking hard a concept is that to grasp?
By bigfresh (4666), north sea on Aug 17, 19 8:12 AM
The property is the old dump and the current owner hasnt been nice to the neighborhood or neighbors. He shouldn't be granted any exceptions other than "as of right". Build out the 13 lots will look a heck of lot better than what it is now. That is after an extensive clean up and soil testing. Goodness knows whats buried there.
By North Sea Citizen (568), North Sea on Aug 17, 19 10:39 AM
Another pollution site that was never cleaned up??? Super fund site???
By knitter (1941), Southampton on Aug 17, 19 12:58 PM
Now we're gonna find out who's not objective on the Town Boards around here.
First suspect : Mr. Daly. He needs to recuse himself.
By themarlinspike (542), Northern Hemisphere on Aug 17, 19 1:10 PM
1 member liked this comment
"allow the owner to go from one nonconforming use, as a dump, to another nonconforming use" - This would only be true if it was still considered a dump when the town sold it to Mr. Stachecki. Is it possible the town's attorney's were negligent enough to allow that to happen? The town should have given up it's right to have a pre-existing, non conforming use on the property before it was sold.
By bird (829), Sag Harbor on Aug 17, 19 2:26 PM
1 member liked this comment
Living structures are better than a dump.
By Lets go mets (377), Southampton on Aug 17, 19 8:21 PM
The town court house is also built on a dump. Class action suits to follow.
By A Great American (103), East Quogue on Aug 17, 19 10:01 PM
I’ll tell you exactly what’s going g to happen:

Developer announces plans for 120 unit development

Residents flood town hall saying it’s too dense, it will cause traffic, it’s out of character with the area.

Lots of back and forth goes on for 2 years

Developer scales back to 40 units. Townspeople declare victory for getting developer to drop 80 units.

Developer only planned to put in 40 units anyway. He just proposed the 120 units ...more
By btdt (449), water mill on Aug 25, 19 9:06 PM
1 member liked this comment