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Jan 27, 2010 1:32 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Developer still wants to build 60 condos in Speonk

Jan 27, 2010 1:32 PM

An old proposal to build 60 condominiums on 15 acres in Speonk will resurface this week, starting with a presentation to the Southampton Town Planning Board scheduled for today, January 28, at 1 p.m.

Barry Bernstein of Serenity LLC, the Manhattan-based developer proposing the project, will present Planning Board members with a draft of a recently completed environmental impact statement, which is required by New York State’s Environmental Quality Review Act. His project will then be discussed during a public hearing before the Southampton Town Board on Tuesday, February 9, as that board must agree to change the zoning of the land to accommodate the condos.

Mr. Bernstein wants to build the units on the west side of North Phillips Avenue, which is south of Old Country Road and north of Montauk Highway. The proposed project, called Serenity Estates, would be constructed near the Speonk solvent plume, a large swath of contaminated groundwater that stretches for approximately 1.5 miles, north to south, to Montauk Highway. The contamination is centered on the west side of Speonk-Riverhead Road.

The draft environmental impact statement, which Mr. Bernstein said he prepared himself, states that, if his project is approved, the residents of his condos would not be harmed by the plume. According to the study, which is dated October 2009, the plume is located approximately 40 feet below the water table, and soil vapor intrusion should not be a problem. Mr. Bernstein also noted that there is public water available along North Phillips Avenue, and he intends to connect his condos to the supply.

Jenn Hartnagel, an environmental advocate for the Group for the East End, said that while she is still reviewing the report, she hopes the Town Board is aware of the potential risks that come with building homes near contaminated land.

“Public health and environment must be a priority when reviewing this application,” she said.

Ms. Hartnagel also raised concerns over the density of the project, stating that the land is now zoned residential and 13 houses can be built on it. The Eastport-Speonk-Remsenburg-Westhampton Area Study, which was adopted by Southampton Town in 2004, recommends that the land be redeveloped as a planned development district.

Mr. Bernstein filed an application in November 2003 to build 13 single-family homes on the property and secured approval a year later. He then amended his application to build 60 condos after the 2004 study was adopted.

In September 2006, an outline of what should be included in the draft environmental impact statement was adopted by Southampton Town, which took over as lead agency a few months before that. Mr. Bernstein submitted a draft of the environmental impact statement in April 2007, he said, but town officials had additional comments, so he had to amend and resubmit the document.

“The condos would result in more real estate taxes, including more school taxes, so that would be a benefit to the community,” Mr. Bernstein said. The land is located in the Eastport South Manor School District.

The proposed condos will be two-bedroom, two-bathroom units, according to Nicholas Vero, the Westhampton Beach architect working on the project. The condo complex will also include a clubhouse, pool, tennis courts and other recreational amenities.

At first, Mr. Bernstein proposed that the condos be senior housing units. He has since withdrawn that restriction, but still wants to encourage those 55 and over to move in.

“It won’t be age-restricted, but will be geared toward seniors,” he said, adding that senior citizens usually do not have school-age children who would tax the school district.

The proposal still has many hurdles to clear, said Wayne Bruyn, the Southampton attorney representing Serenity Estates. After the public comment session is closed, a final environmental impact statement must be submitted and allow comments from the public and town officials.

The Town Board will ultimately decide whether or not to grant the zone change Mr. Bernstein is seeking. After that is done, the Planning Board will review the site plan and Mr. Bernstein can apply for a building permit.

“He still has a lot of steps to go,” Mr. Bruyn said.

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Maybe this explains why Chris Nuzzi, Jim Malone and Nancy Graboski were so anxious to get the business-friendly Bill Berkoski on the Planning Board, blithely abandoning their promise to interview widely in a transparent process, completely ignoring the unanimous public outcry against the bulldozed Berkoski appointment, and throwing overboard Mr. Nuzzi's earlier cant about "professionalizing" the Planning Board. This is some crowd. If we add yet another one like this to the Town Board on March ...more
By Turkey Bridge (1979), Quiogue on Feb 1, 10 5:00 PM
TB says: "I'm voting for Bridget Fleming in the special election,"

I'm shocked, SHOCKED, I tell you.
By Terry (380), Southampton on Feb 1, 10 8:21 PM
1 member liked this comment
Two lame ducks are better than none. Won't help the Town but will make great press."Trust Sally" Pope is Fleming's campaign manager...good grief.
By nellie (451), sag harbor on Feb 1, 10 9:18 PM
"the unanimous public outcry"

Speak for yourself, Turkey! (Bridge.)

"I'm voting for Bridget Fleming in the special election, just so the Supervisor has at least one ally against this gang."

You're voting for Bridget Fleming because you are constitutionally incapable of flipping any lever that's NOT on Row B. Try to muster up a little intellectual honesty for a change, Turkey! (Bridge.)

I have no idea who Bill Berkoski is, or why others are so distressed that he ...more
By Frank Wheeler (1826), Northampton on Feb 2, 10 12:46 PM
Irrespective of your endorsement you raise an interesting point concerning the eagerness to appoint Mr. Berkowski.
By diogenes (57), westhampton on Feb 2, 10 3:50 PM
Mildly funny, Terry, but how about responding to what I ac tually said? Chris Nuzzi has utterly repudiated his promise to support an open and broad-based interviewing process for Planning Board appointments, in addition to abandoning his own initiative to seek more professional input on the Board. Mr. Malone and Ms. Grabooski, as I said, have simply gone along with this flip-flop to support the appointment of a long-time Republican operative. All three of them were deaf to the unanimous public ...more
By Turkey Bridge (1979), Quiogue on Feb 5, 10 5:27 PM
Nellie: Same question as I posed re Terry's comment above. Do you have a specific reply to my specific comment, or are you just going to go on about "lame ducks"?
By Turkey Bridge (1979), Quiogue on Feb 5, 10 5:30 PM
Mr. Wheeler: [1] "Unanimous public outcry" is the correct term -- look at the minutes of the relevant Town Board meeting. [2] Stop toying with my screen name, Petey. [3] You're quite wrong about my voting record. [4] If you "have no idea who Bill Berkoski is", maybe you ought to study up before posting a comment, given that Bill Berkoski is the subject of the discussion.
By Turkey Bridge (1979), Quiogue on Feb 5, 10 5:37 PM
Are there not a bunch of unsold "55 and over" condos in Quogue? If the ones in Quogue have not sold, how would condos over a solvernt plume in Speonk sell?
By CommonSense (71), Southampton on Feb 2, 10 11:55 AM
3 members liked this comment
What about the condos right down the street at the old race tack that LAST CALL LINDA and her crew wanted in against the people that live near there??
They are not all sold yet either.
So why do we need more??? WE DON"T
Let's not over look the density AGAIN as they did at the old race track.
The builder all so did his ownimpact statemant WHAT A JOKE TAHT IS!!!!!
So tell me who is going to benifit from this deal NOT THE LOCAL'S
Will they make the builder inform buyers ...more
By oldguy (60), hamptons on Feb 2, 10 11:07 PM
1 member liked this comment