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May 22, 2013 10:47 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Serenity Estates Developer Goes Back To Original Plan; Wants To Build 13 Homes In Speonk

May 22, 2013 12:51 PM
Two years after Southampton Town rejected his proposal to build 36 condos in Speonk, a project known as “Serenity Estates,” a Manhattan-based developer has returned to his original plan to build 13 single-family homes on the property.

Manhattan developer Barry Bernstein said his proposed “luxury” homes would be 3,500 square feet in size, with five or six bedrooms each, and feature high-end furnishings and “state-of-the-art” technology. The property, located at the old feather factory on the west side of North Phillips Avenue, totals just over 15 acres and is zoned 1-acre Country Residence, which permits the residential development.

In January, the Southampton Town Planning Board extended its preliminary approval of the plans, which it first granted in 2004. In 2005, Mr. Bernstein amended his plans and instead proposed building 60 condominiums for senior citizens on the property. After that plan met opposition, Mr. Bernstein amended it again to call for a planned development district, a special zoning designation that would allow him to build 36 condominiums, a medical office, a restaurant and a small recreational center on the site.

The Southampton Town Board rejected that plan in 2011 in part due to its high density and lack of commitment to preserving open space.

“I’m not expecting the opposition,” Mr. Bernstein said, of his most recent proposal. “This project is according to the current zoning. I’m not anticipating community opposition.”

The plan, which will be subject to a public hearing, will require a subdivision resulting in 13 roughly 1-acre lots. It also calls for a 3.8-acre parcel that will be kept as open space either under the ownership of a community association or dedicated to the town. Mr. Bernstein said he had not yet determined the future of that lot.

Opponents to his previous plans expressed concern that the property is located above an estimated two-mile-long plume of toxic solvents, the source of which remains a mystery. The contamination, known as the Speonk Solvent Plume, is being monitored by the Department of Environmental Conservation. He said previously that he planned to hook buildings to municipal water and install vapor-proof barriers below the foundations of new development on the site to protect against any potential medical issues.

“I don’t think that it’s an issue,” Mr. Bernstein said, when asked about the contamination.

Hank Beck, chairman of the Citizens Advisory Committee—West, said his organization remains concerned about the contamination and the health of those who would buy homes in the development—if it is eventually approved.

He added, however, that he and the other group members are pleased that Mr. Bernstein returned to his original proposal, which does not require the change of zone and calls for less density.

“We wish Mr. Bernstein the best, actually,” Mr. Beck said.

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