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Jul 14, 2010 1:45 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Southampton Town Board members doubt need for senior housing plan

Jul 14, 2010 1:45 PM

Despite obvious concerns about many aspects of a proposed senior-housing development in Speonk, Southampton Town Board members decided this week to allow a public hearing on the proposal to remain open for another month in order to garner more public input and allow the developer to present more information about environmental conditions at the property.

Board members, town officials and representatives of two community groups meanwhile have raised a host of concerns and objections to the planned development district, or PDD, proposal that would allow the project, a 60-unit senior housing complex known as Serenity Estates, to go forward. Density well above what would otherwise be allowed on the 15-acre property, a lack of need for more senior housing and the advisability of building residences on the property—which sits above an estimated 1.5-mile-long migrating plume of toxic solvents discovered in area groundwater tables—make the project an ill-advised one for the town to consider, opponents said.

Barry Bernstein, who spoke at the Town Board’s public hearing on his proposal Tuesday, said he has spoken with people in the community who support the project. He said the project, in whatever form, could be a benefit to the hamlet if he is allowed to bring residents together to help him adjust his plans.

Regarding the toxic plume located some 85 feet beneath the property, the source of which remains a mystery and is still being investigated by New York State, Mr. Bernstein said he has been told by the Suffolk County Department of Health that any health concerns posed by the contamination could likely be addressed by placing plastic vapor barriers beneath whatever is built there.

Nonetheless, representatives for Mr. Bernstein acknowledged after the public hearing on Tuesday that the plan, as currently designed, was not one that was likely to have a future. Mr. Bernstein’s attorney, Wayne Bruyn, asked the board if it would adjourn the public hearing for another month in hopes that the developer could arrange conferences or “charrettes” with members of the community to garner input on how the project might be tweaked.

At least one Town Board member was ready to cut short the future of the project as soon as possible.

“The bottom line is I have very serious concerns about the density of this, which hasn’t changed since October 2009,” Councilwoman Bridget Fleming said to other board members on Tuesday. “I don’t think charrettes are going to get us anywhere. I would like to see us close this as soon as possible and move forward on rendering a decision on this project.”

Andrea Spilka, president of the Southampton Town Civic Coalition, also spoke out against Serenity Estates and the PDD needed to build it.

“[Building] 60 units when what you’re really entitled to is nine or 10 goes to the heart of my underlying concerns about PDDs,” she said.

PDDs are a tool that allows the Town Board to change the zoning on a property if a project presents a significant public benefit.

“The public benefit is not there,” Ms. Spilka said. “I’m really hoping this plan will come into line with what the community wants.”

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Here's another developer trying to get a much bigger piece of the pie with a PDD. Once again, a bogus need is alleged as the "community benefit" to justify the PDD. With Tuckahoe Main Street, it was an additional supermarket that isn't needed. Here, it's more senior housing that isn't needed in the area. Bridget
Fleming is right -- Mr. Bernstein has properly consulted with the community, but it hasn't yielded any progress and isn't likely to, so further dithering is a waste of everyone's ...more
By Turkey Bridge (1979), Quiogue on Jul 15, 10 12:07 PM
1 member liked this comment
By Hillsnbells (43), Southampton on Jul 15, 10 4:17 PM
PDD abuse - the board needs to enter a 12 step program
By dagdavid (646), southampton on Jul 15, 10 7:59 PM
There is no need for this development.There are four 55 and over communities are already in the area and each has many available units for sale which aren't on top of a plume. Why are we allowing a builder to build a development take for example The Hamptons Club which is now at a stand still because there is no interest. The land has been demolished and there are two abandoned houses. This is a waste.
By lifesaver (118), speonk on Jul 16, 10 9:09 PM
Sure Mr. Bernstein has a RIGHT to build there but not at the EXPENSE of the community. Look closely, there is absolutely no "significant community benefit" in that PDD. And he has the OBLIGATION to build in a manner that doesn't leave the future health of residents of his project at risk. Whatever happens to that land JUST SAY NO to the PDD.
By foodie (74), Remsenburg on Jul 19, 10 3:09 PM