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Oct 12, 2016 11:08 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Southampton Town Deems 'The Hills' Environmental Impact Statement Complete

Carolyn Zenk, an environmental attorney from Hampton Bays and a former Town Board member, voices opposition to the DEIS.  JEN NEWMAN
Oct 12, 2016 11:27 AM

After months of back and forth, the Southampton Town Board has finally deemed the environmental impact study for a proposed luxury golf course resort community in East Quogue complete.

The board unanimously adopted a resolution on Tuesday, stating that the 473-page document, focusing on the potential environmental impact of the development dubbed “The Hills at Southampton,” is ready for public review. The first public hearing on the project has been set for Monday, November 7, at 6 p.m., at East Quogue Elementary School on Central Avenue in the hamlet.

“I think it’s time to move on and let the public formally comment on this,” Southampton Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman said after the board approved the fourth version of the document.

The developer behind the project, Arizona-based Discovery Land Company, wants to build 118 residential units and an 18-hole golf course on 168 acres near Spinney Road in East Quogue. The units would include 95 single-family homes, 13 clubhouse cabins and 10 clubhouse condominiums. In order for the application to be approved, the Town Board must approve special zoning, called a planned development district, or PDD, as all of the targeted land is now 5-acre residential zoning—the most restrictive in the municipality.

The first hurdle in the process, however, was getting the Town Board to accept the study, dubbed a draft environmental impact statement, or DEIS, for the project, which actually targets nearly 600 acres in East Quogue—the largest tract of undeveloped land on the South Fork.

Mark Hissey, the vice president of Discovery Land, said he encourages all community members to read the document and attend next month’s hearing.

“I’m happy that the public gets to view it now,” Mr. Hissey said. “They can have a really good look at what is being posted and weigh in with their feelings.”

The Town Board was originally expected to adopt the fourth version of the study—required under the State Environmental Quality Review Act, or SEQRA—at its prior meeting in late September but opted to table it after several residents complained that the version still lacked vital information, including maps and a complete alternative plan that highlights what could be built on the property under current zoning.

During that meeting, William Kearns of East Quogue took issue with the town’s original plan to schedule the first public hearing for October 17, a move that would have given the public only two-and-a-half weeks to review the document. Concerned parties now have nearly four weeks to complete their examination before the hearing on November 7.

Carolyn Zenk, an environmental attorney from Hampton Bays and a former Town Board member, took issue with the lack of an alternative plan at last month’s meting. She returned to Town Hall Tuesday to again state her belief that the draft was still incomplete, though the board did not share her concerns.

“Our position is that the draft environmental impact statement still remains inadequate for public review,” Ms. Zenk said during the public comment portion of the meeting. “Why? One, there are no yield maps for [the] Parlato [property]. There are yield maps for [the] Hills and Kracke [properties], but your scoping document required that.”

Discovery Land has purchased multiple properties over the past few years, including those once owned by the Parlato and Kracke families, and intends to transfer some of those development rights to allow for greater density on the main property that would feature the homes and golf course—if the project is ultimately approved.

“You are supposed to be comparing what you are getting with the as-of-right project,” Ms. Zenk said. “You can’t determine what an as-of-right project is until you actually subject it to the zoning code.”

Wayne Bruyn, an attorney with O’Shea, Marcincuk and Bruyn LLP in Southampton, who is representing the developer, disputed Ms. Zenk’s claims, noting that all the as-of-right maps needed at this state of the process were included. He also said that the document is ready for public review.

“We urge the board to schedule a public hearing so everybody in the public has an opportunity—for or against—has due notice to be heard so they don’t have to show up meeting after meeting,” Mr. Bruyn said. “They haven’t had the opportunity that maybe Ms. Zenk has had to review documents and that should not be precluded by any further delay.

“I think the document is ready,” he continued. “We understand that there will not be just one public hearing, which has become commonplace with this board, and that there will be several public hearings. We are anticipating everyone having that opportunity and due notice to be heard at that time.”

Mr. Schneiderman agreed with Mr. Bruyn, noting that the document is ready for public consumption.

“Here’s what the document looks like,” Mr. Schneiderman said, as he pulled out a box stuffed to the brim with papers from behind him. “I don’t know how many pages it is but there are three binders, information, maps. In earlier comments there were some questions about maps available and some of the alternatives—they are all there.”

Depending on the concerns aired at next month’s hearing, Town Planner Kyle Collins said the town can request that the developer alter parts of the document for the final environmental impact statement.

Copies of the adopted study can be viewed on the town’s website, www.southamptontownny.gov, and hard copies can be picked up during normal operating hours from the Southampton Town Clerk’s office at Town Hall, the Town Clerk Annex on Ponquogue Avenue in Hampton Bays, or the Westhampton Free Library in Westhampton Beach.

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I just dont undetstand anyone interested in 118 plywood condos and parking and 18 hole 7000 yard golf course, club house, guest facility, pro shoppe, golf cart garage and driveway....
All crammed into a measily 168 acres
By dave h (193), calverton on Oct 10, 16 5:47 PM
$1.5 million each house plus ongoing club revenues. It's probably about a $150 million profit to the developers. Ask the company for their revenue and expense cash flow forecast spreadsheet that they created for their bankers and investors.
By dfree (818), hampton bays on Oct 11, 16 8:07 AM
1 member liked this comment
The Town should make that a requirement from every developer for every project submitted.
By rv (38), watermill on Oct 11, 16 5:48 PM
By Taz (725), East Quogue on Oct 11, 16 11:59 AM
1 member liked this comment
Throw in some housing and these people think they are doing something good?
Look at the houses on County Road 39, is that housing? STOP THE DEVELOPMENT.
By rvs (106), sag harbor on Oct 12, 16 9:39 PM