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Jun 23, 2015 2:53 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Town Expands Scope Of Questions For The Hills At Southampton

Kyle Collins presents changes to the scoping document for the Hills at Southampton application. BY ERIN MCKINLEY
Jun 24, 2015 10:39 AM

Southampton Town Board members have detailed a number of new areas to be studied in an environmental review of The Hills at Southampton, a proposed luxury golf course community that would be constructed in East Quogue on the largest remaining undeveloped tract on the South Fork.

Town Planning Administrator Kyle Collins and his team at the Department of Land Management made more than a dozen additions to the initial scoping document, which will be used as a guideline for a draft environmental impact statement, or DEIS, for the project. The scoping document is expected to be approved in July.

The additions specify areas that will be have to be evaluated in the DEIS, and they include questions about zoning, community benefits, design and layout, water resources and ecology, among others.

As part of the environmental review, the town will require that the developers evaluate not only all of the fields named in the scoping document but also what would be allowed by current, as-of-right zoning, and also by a design that clusters development on a portion of the property to create more open space elsewhere on the land.

“This will be used to identify the final information to be used in the environmental review,” Mr. Collins said. “There were a lot of comments on the project itself, so we want to make sure the description of the site and its current condition is clear, because this is a very large project.”

The Hills at Southampton would require a proposed mixed-use planned development district, or PDD, a special overlay zoning designation that allows uses and densities not permitted by current zoning. The plan calls for the construction of 118 homes—95 single-family homes, 13 clubhouse cabins and 10 clubhouse condominium units—and an 18-hole golf course.

The project is located just north of Lewis Road near Spinney Road, and extends north of Sunrise Highway. The developers, the Discovery Land Company of Arizona, are looking to combine several East Quogue properties, 431.3 acres of which they already own, as well as an additional 163.2 acres they are in contract to buy, for a total of 594.5 acres. The housing and golf course would be clustered on 168.1 acres, while the remaining land would be left as open space and natural vegetation.

The main and largest property is currently zoned for clustered 5-acre residential development. The exact number of single-family homes that could potentially be built on that property has been contested, with the developers saying that at least 82 could be constructed, and local environmentalists insisting that the figure is closer to 50 units. A golf course is not permitted under current zoning.

Over the past two months, the Southampton Town Board has hosted two public hearings regarding the project, with dozens of residents opposing the proposal. Key concerns include environmental, water and air quality concerns associated with the golf course, as well as concerns about density and traffic.

“In terms of the project itself, there were major issues addressed by residents,” Mr. Collins said. “There are many concerns over how the EIS needs to address the impacts of the project, with the foremost being ground and surface water, and what impacts those will have on public and private wells. So we added additional texts to adequately describe what we need.”

The town will also require that seven “alternatives” be explored as part of the environmental review. This will include evaluating a reduced density plan, alternative technology that can be used to maintain the golf course and the housing development, and alternative site designs that might have less of an impact.

One of the biggest changes in the 22-page document is that Discovery Land will have to describe the development potential for the site if a PDD variance is not granted by the Town Board, meaning that what is eventually built there must be in conformance with current building and zoning restrictions. In one alternative, a cluster plan, all of the houses would have to be situated on the same portion of the property to create more contiguous open space. The golf course would not count as open space, however. The Town Board will also require charts breaking down the differences between the two projects, with their benefits and problems highlighted.

The final scoping document also places a significant emphasis on protecting local waterways. The applicant will have to explore the potential ramifications of the housing development and its impact on the local waterways—which include Weesuck Creek, Shinnecock Bay and the groundwater—as well as the impacts of the golf course. If it is approved at all, the golf course would have to meet strict environmental guidelines and operate organically to limit the chemicals that spread into the ground and air. The Town Board expects to see a detailed report of the current condition of all the local waterways, as well as the effects each specific chemical could have on the area.

There were also several changes made in the ecology portion, which will require aerial photography of the area and studies of wildlife, habitats and species that inhabit the land. So the town can monitor the evaluation, the applicant will have to submit memos to the Town Board detailing how and when the animal studies will be conducted, as well as who will study them and what method will be used.

As with the water evaluation, similar breakdowns will be required on the impacts of local plant and animal life if a golf course and housing development are built. The town also wants to know exactly how much land would have to be cleared, how much soil would be removed from the property and what types of soil and turf would be brought in.

Other changes in the document include a requirement to study the effects on public health both before and after construction, to study the effects of the subdivision’s lighting on the area, to provide more information about potential benefits for East Quogue and surrounding communities, and to identify other land in the hamlet that could be targeted for development in the future by other developers.

The town plans to make final changes to the scoping document over the next few weeks and the Town Board plans to approve the changes to the document at its July 14 meeting.

“We are asking for a little bit more from this project, but I think that it is something that everyone understands is an important part of this,” Town Councilwoman Christine Scalera said.

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Located over our sole source aquifer, where our drinking water comes from, this project should get a resounding NO. Golf courses do not belong in the Pine Barrens, especially one with a clubhouse the size of a Home Depot - a fact not mentioned in this article. The developer is asking for zoning changes he is not entitled to have. The community is angry. Better listen, town board.
By Crabby (63), Southampton on Jun 23, 15 3:47 PM
The Town has 2 clear options to me:

1. Deny their PDD and call their bluff that they will build there as-of-right. I've said it before and will say it again, I don't see there being a market for that many homes north of the highway (and next to a sand mine).

2. Approve the PDD, but with some pie in the sky demands including: A state of the art STP for the entire project and for the applicant to pay to hookup homes (maybe even the elementary school?) in the surrounding area as ...more
By Nature (2966), Southampton on Jun 23, 15 4:08 PM
Sure would have been nice if the Board required all this for the North Sea ghetto projet and the no longer King Kullen mega shopping center guess the out of town developer in question didn't make the proper campaign contributions.
By bigfresh (4666), north sea on Jun 23, 15 4:21 PM
Comparing a 10 acre project which would feature a grocery store (which everyone can benefit from) and a handful of other stores on a previously developed parcel with a 600 acre project in the Pine Barrens, which is undeveloped and which would be for private use only is like comparing apples to filet mignon.
By Nature (2966), Southampton on Jun 24, 15 9:06 AM
... from day one Anna wanted to see community outrage over this project. That would be critical to her thinking relative to her vote. Last month 110 people gathered in the East Quogue school at a Town Board meeting held there. Forty citizens spoke; thirty were vehement in their opposition to this project, ten (make that nine, one was on the developer's payroll) were for it.

Not one project before the board in the past ten years had such strong opposition. That, coupled with the devastating ...more
By William Rodney (561), southampton on Jun 23, 15 5:34 PM
I seem to remember the drag strip development being vehemently opposed at the time, but a fat lot of good it did.
By tenn tom (259), remsenburg on Jun 24, 15 8:23 AM
A big part of the problem lies in how the Town Board is going at this. The Supervisor has more than once posed it in terms of comparing the potential damage resulting from this project with the potential damage that would flow from the developer building what he could "as of right."

It's true that "as of right" is a feature of present law in this case, but what a property owner can do as of right has been modified before, by upzoning and wetlands restrictions, and it can be modified again. ...more
By Turkey Bridge (1979), Quiogue on Jun 24, 15 10:10 AM
1 member liked this comment
Are they kidding, an administration building, there are no administrators in EQ!

How about allowing the residents of EQ the use of the golf course, bet that would change a lot of folks minds!

Maybe the new Town Supervisor will have some real ideas, isn't Anna abandoning Southampton for other pastures?
By garjay (7), east quogue on Jun 25, 15 2:50 PM
A golf course is not permitted under current zoning, so why is this project even being considered?
By AL (83), southampton on Jun 25, 15 7:01 PM
1 member liked this comment
Because PDD's are a tool used to permit things beyond "as-of-right" because not every land use scenario can fit into neat zoning categories. If the municipality of community can gain benefits beyond the impacts of the proposed, then it's a win for all.

The king kullen shopping center wasn't permitted as-of-right in Hampton Bays - do you think the Board shouldn't have considered that?
By Nature (2966), Southampton on Jul 1, 15 12:55 PM
specifically regarding -->
"The plan calls for the construction of 118 homes—95 single-family homes, 13 clubhouse cabins and 10 clubhouse condominium units—and an 18-hole golf course. .. .. ..
The housing and golf course would be clustered on 168.1 acres .. "
how can all that fit on 168 acres ? its like development magic. it cant .. you can barely build an 18 hole course on 200 acres ..let alone a compelling one..let alone all those other buildings! and parking ...more
By david h (405), southampton on Jul 2, 15 10:15 AM