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May 21, 2019 6:04 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

New Neighborhood Support For Land Preservation In Lions Head Area Of Springs

May 21, 2019 11:33 AM

East Hampton Town is considering its first purchase of land for preservation in the Lion Head region of Springs, after residents of the area softened their longtime opposition to town acquisitions there.

For years, the Lion Head Beach Association has asked that the town’s Department of Land Management not target properties in the neighborhood for purchase using money from the Community Preservation Fund. The opposition had been based on the fear that any lands the town purchased potentially could become new public parks or access points to the waters of Hog Creek, which would bring more traffic and cars parked on roadsides.

Meanwhile, the town has purchased numerous properties in neighboring waterfront areas of Springs, Clearwater Beach and Gerard Drive, removing existing structures from many of them and creating new green spaces and wild lands along the waterfront.

This spring, members of the Lion Head Association, apparently, had a change of heart.

“There was a time when the residents of Lion Head Beach had been in opposition to any purchase,” said Alex Miller, a resident of the neighborhood that tips the northernmost end of Three Mile Harbor Road. “But … we as a board or members of a community have no right under any law to tell a homeowner who they may sell their property to.”

Mr. Miller and several other residents of the neighborhood told the Town Board last week that they support the town’s purchase of an undeveloped half-acre lot on Isle of Wight Road from its owner, Dale Spencer—as long as they could expect that the land would be left in its natural state and not cleared.

The support for the land deal is not complete, however. Mr. Miller indicated that he expected there would be other residents who would object.

Indeed, Scott Wilson, the town’s director of land management, told the Town Board that the homeowners association had officially asked the town not to push through the purchase until it discusses the proposal with its members.

Instead, Mr. Wilson introduced a resolution to add 87 Isle of Wight Road to the list of properties on the town’s CPF project plan, but not to move forward with the purchase, which will require an additional public vetting. He said the association and the town’s Nature Preserve Committee are already discussing plans for the land.

“They primary purpose of this [purchase] is water quality and open space,” Mr. Wilson said. “There is no intent to change this property in any way.”

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