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Jun 9, 2016 3:28 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Southampton Town Deems The Hills Environmental Impact Study Incomplete For The Second Time

An aerial view of The Hills at Southampton property in East Quogue. COURTESY AMY BETH STERN
Jun 15, 2016 10:05 AM

The Southampton Town Board on Tuesday deemed the revised environmental review for a proposed luxury golf course development in East Quogue, called The Hills at Southampton, “incomplete” for the second time.

The initial draft environmental impact study, or DEIS, was first deemed incomplete in February when reports submitted by AKRF Inc. and A. Martin Petrovic—two private firms hired by the town to assist with reviewing the massive document—outlined several omissions that needed to be addressed for the application to move forward.

In order for Arizona-based Discovery Land Company to advance its plans—which call for the construction of 95 single-family homes, 13 clubhouse cabins and 10 clubhouse condominiums, along with an 18-hole golf course, just off Spinney Road—the Town Board must first approve the DEIS. The document is required by state environmental policy and evaluates the potential ramifications that a development could have on the surrounding area.

Once the DEIS is approved, the Town Board could then proceed with approving a planned development district, a zoning mechanism that allows increased density in exchange for perceived community benefits, if it so desires.

According to A. Martin Petrovic’s report on the revised 378-page DEIS, dated May 23, Discovery Land addressed “most of the issues raised in the initial review” the second time around, “but several areas have not [been] addressed and are labeled incomplete.”

The parts of the document that remain incomplete include the expansion of a groundwater monitoring program to include protocol to test the effectiveness of rain gardens on the property, which the developer has not yet done; clarification on the types of pesticides to be applied on the golf course; clarification on whether fertilizer will be used to grow grass on the course; and other matters pertaining to irrigation.

Town Planning and Development Administrator Kyle Collins said last week that Discovery Land substantially addressed many of the issues raised during the first review, but is not quite there yet in terms of providing enough information “to have a productive public comment on the DEIS.”

“It’s did they address the issue adequately in order to get not only public comment, but comment from involved agencies?” Mr. Collins said. “Does it surprise me that they didn’t get everything right the second time? No.”

After reviewing A. Martin Petrovic’s report himself, Southampton Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman said he does not believe the DEIS is far from being deemed complete.

“I think it shouldn’t take them more than a few weeks to respond to the remaining questions,” Mr. Schneiderman said. “There’s not a lot that’s missing here.”

Mark Hissey, a vice president of Discovery Land, said last week that he would not be surprised if the Town Board opted to deem the revised document incomplete. He added, though, that his firm is willing to do whatever the town requires of it in order to get the DEIS pushed over the finish line.

“This is about the biggest application that [has] come down the road for them, so it can get a bit confusing, since the document is so huge,” Mr. Hissey said. “I completely understand that they have to make sure everything is right.

“I want the review of this to be as thorough as possible—whatever the town wants,” he continued.

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If the Petrovic report was issued May 23 why wasn't it released to the public? And what about the AKRF report which isn't even mentioned.

'Curiouser and curiouser!' cried Alice (she was so much surprised, that for the moment she quite forgot how to speak good English)

By CleanWater (122), East Quogue on Jun 9, 16 5:40 PM
2 members liked this comment
Define "released to the public"? You can go to Town Hall and submit a FOIL request and read the document yourself. It's an internal document on a project that is under review. There are specific timelines the Town has to review revised submissions and make a determination.

Additionally, the AKRF report was only done on the first submission, as per the article. Go on down to Town Hall and ask for a copy to read yourself.

Not everything is a conspiracy...
By Nature (2966), Southampton on Jun 10, 16 10:05 AM
It's been 2 1/2 weeks since this report was issued. The public should be made aware. We didn't even know it existed until now. How can one file a FOIL for something we don't even know about? The public deserves to be kept up to date on this issue which has such a monumental impact on our lives. Tell me why I'm wrong on this.
By Taz (725), East Quogue on Jun 10, 16 11:30 AM
The Petrovic report focuses on golf course management protocols. The AKRF report on everything else. Why wouldn't there be a new AKRF evaluation of the revised DEIS. Who else would be evaluating the revised version for completeness?
And the report is not in the file.
By CleanWater (122), East Quogue on Jun 10, 16 11:36 AM
Taz - you have been made aware, by this article which is a reflection of work the Town of Southampton is doing on the project.

What is the Town supposed to do every time any report comes in? E-mail the entire Town? They received the report, then staff had to review it, compare it to the massive document, verify all of the information and make a recommendation that the document is not complete. Said recommendation is then made to the Board who adopts the recommendation and notifies the ...more
Jun 10, 16 12:22 PM appended by Nature
Also, with respect to your last comment on the thread - the DEIS cannot be "rejected" by the Board, provided it is complete. The DEIS is accepted once it's complete, then there's public comment, then a FINAL DEIS is prepared which must include responses to all meaningful comments. Once the FDEIS has been prepared, there will be a waiting period and a Findings Statement. The Findings Statement will detail if the environmental impacts are adequately mitigated, or if they are so significant that the project should be rejected and the PDD zoning not effectuated.
By Nature (2966), Southampton on Jun 10, 16 12:22 PM
This was just not "any report." It was from one of the "two private firms the town retained to assist in reviewing the application" which rises far above the level of everything the Town receives.

Semantics: A report not accepted and returned as incomplete in my book is rejected.

BTW, I was not the one who refered to what's in the file in Town.
By Taz (725), East Quogue on Jun 11, 16 9:23 AM
This is exactly why the Town passed the PDD moratorium. This process is out of control. Where are the consultants reports? Who is in charge here? Why isn't the public being kept in the loop? Jay and Julie and John got elected because we were all led to believe this stuff would be over with them in office. What happened?
By sag2harbor (117), sag harbor on Jun 9, 16 9:24 PM
2 members liked this comment
And who, sag2harbor, do you think passed the PDD moratorium? That's right, Jay and Julie and John, the very people you're criticizing. And, btw, they passed it alone because GOP Christine and Stan voted against it.

You've got it wrong, sag2hatbor. Jay and Julie and John have it so much in hand that the developer probably dropped the ball on purpose to allow them some more time to work on public opinion with free meals etc. Why? Because the developer realizes they can't fool JJ & J, so ...more
By Turkey Bridge (1979), Quiogue on Jun 9, 16 9:51 PM
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Boy, do I hope you have it right!!
By sag2harbor (117), sag harbor on Jun 9, 16 10:13 PM
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Turkey Bridge. I think it is only fair that I spare you from spreading this canard that I have seen you mention on a few occasions.

This is not a game of poker. There will not be preservation of this property. It will be developed, regardless of what you think or how you speculate that these land deals are in place. Property rights which are exercised in a legal and moral manner is an inalienable right and that is exactly what I intend to implement.

There is a simple formula ...more
By Mark Hissey (171), Melville on Jun 21, 16 11:08 PM
1 member liked this comment
And for the record, no balls were dropped on purpose. This is called the evolution of a very important document. One which the Town and their consultants are examining in detail. And I welcome it.

Do you really have such disrespect for the residents of this town that you think they would be so petty as to be swayed in their opinion by a free beverage and appetizers? Being civil isn't a negative. And for the record, many of the opponents of this project have partaken in this hospitality ...more
By Mark Hissey (171), Melville on Jun 22, 16 6:14 AM
1 member liked this comment
HMMMM not addressing pesticide types to be used and not knowing if fertilizer will be used are two pretty serious issues don'tcha think? Especially when this project sits atop our aquifer.
By bigfresh (4666), north sea on Jun 10, 16 6:13 AM
By Craigcat (258), Speonk on Jun 10, 16 10:39 AM
Yes, prior reporting at this site informed the reader that:

"The moratorium would not apply to PDD applications that have already passed the public hearing stage of pre-application review, though—meaning that The Hills at Southampton proposal in East Quogue and the Townhouses in Water Mill both would be exempt."

Agree Turkey Bridge -- J.J&J will prove to be the most environmentally friendly town board, ever.
By number19 (111), Westhampton on Jun 10, 16 10:21 AM
Actions speak louder than words. PDD moratorium does not interfere with the HILLS proposal since it's grandfathered. NOW we will see if the new Town board we elected will step up and REJECT this DEIS. Permanently. Period. Voters have long memories.
By Taz (725), East Quogue on Jun 10, 16 11:24 AM
> "Voters have long memories."

Still believe in fairy tales, Taz?

No in Southampton Town, they don't! How else could you explain the multiple re-elections of Skip Heaney or ATH? Alex Gregor or Barbara Wilson?

The majority of voters, here and elsewhere, can't even bother to remain informed unless it's something in their own backyard. (Or someone drops a cherry bomb down their jockey shorts!)

By Frank Wheeler (1826), Northampton on Jun 11, 16 10:29 AM
1 member liked this comment
Either way, all the more reason to keep on them to do the right thing.
By Taz (725), East Quogue on Jun 14, 16 10:12 AM
Did anyone read Al Algieri's conversation with Discovery's Mr. Hissey? It's in todays Southampton Press - Western Edition.

'A 155,760-square-foot clubhouse with a staff to match. Mr. Hissey claims that this development will be employing 101 fulltime employees. When asked where they will live, Mr. Hissey replied, “East Quogue.” Where will they go to school? He doesn’t talk about that.'
As per Mr. Algieri - Mr. Hissey didn't have an answer to that question...!? ...more
By FiddlerCrab (96), Westhampton Beach on Jun 16, 16 10:25 PM
Fiddler Crab.

There is a difference between a conversation and a soliloquy. What you are describing is the latter. I have had no such conversation with Mr. Algieri. I could run through multiple inaccuracies in his latest missive to the Press, but to what end?

Need I point out that this application clearly describes, that there are 118 residences as part of the application? Every fact is disclosed unlike what Mr. Algieri alleges, unless a complete failure to read the application ...more
By Mark Hissey (171), Melville on Jun 21, 16 12:54 AM
1 member liked this comment
Massive pesticide use , fertilizer for the turf , massive amounts of water used to irrigate said turf , all set atop our aquafer. Care to address those points sir?
By bigfresh (4666), north sea on Jun 21, 16 5:37 AM
1 member liked this comment
BF. Feel free to look at the DEIS which has an expansive water quality section. It addresses each of your concerns in detail. That section, as with all the others, has been produced by experts in their field. In turn, each of those sections are reviewed for accuracy by independent experts selected by the Town. Furthermore, your use of hyperbole doesn't equal facts. Repeated use of words like "massive" and "mega" simply don't compare to the facts.

You might ask next whether the assertions ...more
By Mark Hissey (171), Melville on Jun 21, 16 11:28 AM
Mr. Hissey, here is what the Pine Barrens Society really thinks of your project as posted by the Executive Director in last weeks Southampton Press.

Despite near universal opposition to the proposed “The Hills at Southampton” mega-development in the Pine Barrens of East Quogue, the worst planned development district of them all lives on.
Town Board members and the people of Southampton won’t support The Hills mega development. Under the PDD law, it could and should ...more
By CleanWater (122), East Quogue on Jun 22, 16 7:31 AM
Yes. I'm very familiar with Mr. Amper and what he has to say and he is very familiar with me, with what I believe in, and what I have accomplished in my career. That is why he asked me to be on his fundraising committees for a decade.

You will need to ask him why he feels this way. The project in in the compatible growth area of the Pine Barrens; an agreement made two decades ago with full oversight from Mr. Amper. You may want to ask him what has changed since then. Regardless, his comment ...more
By Mark Hissey (171), Melville on Jun 22, 16 6:45 PM
Our objection to "The Hills" mega development project, which we think should be killed, isn't about Mr. Hissey - it's about the project. It's the biggest and worst to come before the Pine Barrens Commission, since the Pine Barrens Act was approved in 1993. Maybe that's why the project sponsor is avoiding the project's review by the New York State Pine Barrens Commission and cannot seem to meet Southampton Town's definition of complete. Our objection is and has been to the project and not to the ...more
By Pine Barrens (1), Riverhead on Jun 23, 16 2:31 PM
It's unfortunate that you continue to use the word 'killed". It's totally inappropriate in public discourse. I'd respectfully ask that you refrain from using words like that.

As for the project being "the worst", well once again I respectfully disagree. There has not been a project presented with such diligent and creative effort to address water quality issues. I would welcome a discussion with you to these issues rather than the current oppositional discourse.

There is no avoidance ...more
By Mark Hissey (171), Melville on Jun 24, 16 11:01 PM
Mr. Hissey,
Things change during the course of 2 decades.

Today, we know that pesticide run-off and nitrogen are destroying our waters. Shouldn't we utilize what we've learned over the last 20 years to help protect ourselves and future generations?

Today we have 5 acre zoning in East Quogue. Today we have laws that protect the aquifer that we get our drinking water from.

We can't pour chemicals & urinate in the punch bowl (our water supply) and expect the next ...more
By sag2harbor (117), sag harbor on Jun 23, 16 12:23 PM
1 member liked this comment
Thank you very much for your polite and considered response. One thing I have been eager to achieve is constructive and respectful dialogue.

Things have indeed changed in two decades. One particular item is golf course maintenance and the results thereof, coupled with stringent water quality monitoring. We are fortunate that all golf courses built in the 21st century in Southampton have embraced this mindset, as will the Hills. As I have said repeatedly, please examine ...more
By Mark Hissey (171), Melville on Jun 24, 16 2:18 PM
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You acknowledge that five acre zoning is protective of the water supply. You go on to say that the Hills has five acre zoning, but then you go on to say that “what is asked for in addition to the zoning is the golf course. “

Oh, is that all. 5,000,000 square feet of turf and a 150,000 sq ft clubhouse with parking for 200 cars.

Under the current five acre protective zoning there would be no more than 60,000 sq ft of turf. The Cornell Study says that in five acre ...more
By CleanWater (122), East Quogue on Jun 25, 16 9:20 AM
... the only "concrete steps" in this proposal will be the ones leading to your two level underground parking garage beneath your 150,000sf club house - which will be bigger than a Home Depot and dug directly into the fresh water aquifer.

Now that's what I call a community benefit.
By William Rodney (561), southampton on Jun 25, 16 7:24 AM
3 members liked this comment