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Mar 24, 2010 10:12 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Southampton Town Board keeps hearing open on proposed condos in Speonk

Mar 24, 2010 10:12 AM

Plans for a proposed 60-unit senior citizen condominium complex in Speonk will most likely continue to change after the Southampton Town Board on Tuesday opted to keep the public hearing on the change of zone application open.

Developer Barry Bernstein, who wants to construct the subdivision known as Serenity Estates, said he is willing to talk with residents of the hamlets of Remsenburg and Speonk, and would be open to modifying his plans.

At their meeting Tuesday night, Town Board members had the opportunity to close the public hearing on the project and require that Mr. Bernstein complete a final draft environmental impact statement on his plans. But because he is willing to listen to the community and possibly change the project, the Town Board left the hearing open.

The project will be discussed again later in the spring, after Mr. Bernstein and the community can work out their differences, according to Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst.

Mr. Bernstein is currently asking the Town Board to transform his 15 acres on North Phillips Avenue in Speonk into a planned development district, so that he can construct a 60-unit senior housing complex. Right now, the land’s zoning allows for the construction of 13 single-family homes.

The condominium project, however, could be compromised by the presence of the Speonk solvent plume, a swath of contaminated groundwater that extends for about 1.5 miles, north to south, from Speonk-Riverhead Road to just south of Montauk Highway. Mr. Bernstein has stated that he will provide public water connections to his condominiums, and install soil vapor barriers beneath the units.

Wayne Bruyn, Mr. Bernstein’s attorney, told the Town Board that the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation issued a letter on his client’s project that acknowledges the presence of chemicals in the groundwater and states that public water should be provided to the units, as should soil vapor barriers. The letter also states that any irrigation systems should draw on public water as well, Mr. Bruyn said.

Hank Beck, speaking as the co-chair of the Citizens Advisory Committee-West, urged Mr. Bernstein to consider building a light industrial complex on the property. Mr. Beck added that the construction of 13 single-family homes would also be a better option than 60 condominiums.

Jen Hartnagel, an environmental advocate with Group for the East End, told the board that the request for a planned development district should not be accepted because Serenity Estates does not have a significant public benefit, a requirement of the legislation.

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60 taxpayer households that don't use the school district... I'm all for it.
N Phillips could use a serious face lift too. However, until the plume issue is resolved nothing should get built over there.
By double standard (1506), quogue on Mar 29, 10 10:48 PM
I think the Group for the East End (formerly the Group for the South Fork) always opens their mouth, yet nothing comes out. An increase in the tax base, without any burden to the school district IS A PUBLIC BENEFIT! And these people are educated? I will stay in the private sector thank you. Sounds like a good project to me. 13 unregulated homes (with possible children) all doing their own thing with pools, lawn/pest care chemicals versus a complex where there is a grounds keeper under the control ...more
By BIGjimbo12 (201), East Quogue on Mar 30, 10 9:41 AM
Why has no one answered the toxic plume question yet in that area?
By sjd (420), Westhampton Beach on Mar 30, 10 3:42 PM
In a word.... bureaucracy. The state has to find the source to apply blame (they never will as the plume contains chemicals found in degreasers from WWII)
Then once they find the source (which they won't) they want the invisible culprit to pay for the clean up (which they won't be able to do because they are likely dead). So while they know where the plume is now and can clean it up, they will waste more time and guess where it migrates to. Do you follow this? Sounds ridiculous right? Welcome ...more
By double standard (1506), quogue on Mar 30, 10 4:12 PM
BIGjimbo12 - while your idea of a public benefit is reasonable, it is not a true public benefit and you need to understand why that clause was written into the legislation. The purpose of it was so that a developer would get extra leeway if they provided a public park, ballfields, significant amounts of open space, a public pool, etc. An increase in the tax base does not qualify as a "public benefit" because the general public doesn't benefit from it. Yes, in theory there will be a small relief ...more
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on Mar 30, 10 3:45 PM