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Feb 23, 2018 11:29 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Community Divided On New East Quogue Golf Course Proposal

Chic Voorhis, managing partner of Nelson, Pope and Voorhis, speaks about The Hills.
Feb 28, 2018 12:02 PM

The community sounded off on a proposed golf course resort targeting nearly 600 acres in East Quogue—a plan pitched by the same firm behind the defeated The Hills at Southampton development—during last week’s Southampton Town Planning Board meeting.

And just as they were when discussing the rejected planned development district, residents remain divided and offered a mix of passionate opinions of the latest pre-application.

The plan that still calls for the construction of 118 homes, which is the same number of units included in the defeated application, as well as a private 18-hole golf course that would be built on nearly 600 acres off Spinney Road in the hamlet.

But this time, the developer—the Discovery Land Company of Arizona—is insisting that it can build its development, including the golf course, without securing a change of zone. The company points to a little-used portion of the town code that permits the addition of certain recreational amenities, such as tennis courts, in residential neighborhoods, and is maintaining that a golf course to be used by the development’s residents is comparable.

All of the land owned by the development company is 5-acre zoning, the most restrictive in the town.

Nearly 100 people attended the public hearing on February 22 on the new application, with many sharing their concerns or voicing their support for the project to Planning Board members who will have the final say on the application.

“I’m against the development,” said Geraldine Jack of East Quogue, as she gripped the sides of a podium in the front of the auditorium in Southampton Town Hall.

Ms. Jack, who co-chairs the East Quogue Citizens Advisory Committee, said she and many of her neighbors are worried about the development’s potential impact on density, traffic and the environment—echoing concerns shared by many in her community prior to the Southampton Town Board’s rejection of the planned development district, or PDD, last year.

Fellow hamlet resident Vicki Greenbaum urged Planning Board members to take into consideration the environmental concerns raised by Town Councilwoman Julie Lofstad and Town Councilman John Bouvier when reviewing the PDD; both opposed the development, leading to the application’s rejection.

Ms. Greenbaum also pointed out that because the new endeavor, dubbed a planned residential development, or PRD, is no longer being pitched as a PDD, her community would no longer receive any community benefits from Discovery Land. Those benefits, which were a requirement of all PDDs prior to them being outlawed last year, included donations to East Quogue’s elementary school and fire district, as well as funding to help clean up Weesuck Creek and Shinnecock Bay.

“The planned residential development is intended to make a project more environmentally responsible—not less,” said Dick Amper, executive director of Long Island Pine Barrens Society, and a longtime vocal opponent of The Hills. “The applicant can’t add a golf course as an accessory use … To approve the Discovery Land project would be against the PRD law.”

Still, others in the community continued to support the project and, specifically, Discovery Land.

Cyndi McNamara, an East Quogue resident and the former vice president of the hamlet’s Board of Education, said she supports the latest application, stressing that a golf course resort would appeal only to those who are interested in vacation homes, meaning they are not likely to add children to the school district.

Ms. McNamara also pointed out that the PDD’s rejection has prompted Carolyn Parlato to move forward with plans to develop an adjacent 33-acre swath in East Quogue, land that had been originally targeted for preservation under the failed PDD. Ms. Parlato is now looking to build a 30-lot subdivision on the land, a development that, if approved, would most likely add children to the East Quogue schools, according to Ms. McNamara. “We don’t need any more [students],” she added.

Dave Sealey of East Quogue also stood in support of the project, noting that the large, seasonal homes would generate new tax revenue, reducing the taxes of others in the community.

Dan Manning, who lives on Spinney Road in the hamlet, told Planning Board members that he thinks Discovery Land would be a good neighbor. Additionally, he noted that the Planning Board issued a positive findings statement for the rejected PDD when it was before the Town Board. “This is essentially the same plan outside of community benefits and outside of golf memberships,” he noted.

There are a few key differences that separate the new application, called Lewis Road Planned Residential District, and The Hills, according to Wayne D. Bruyn, an attorney at O’Shea, Marcincuk and Bruyn LLP in Southampton, and Chic Voorhis, managing partner of Nelson, Pope and Voorhis. Both were hired by Discovery Land.

In order for his client to build a golf course under the current proposal, the facility would have to be private, Mr. Voorhis said. In the former proposal, 135 memberships would be available for purchase by the general public. As a result, he said the new development should result in less traffic, noting that only those who own homes would be allowed to play golf. “This project will have much less impact on the area roadways than the PDD,” Mr. Voorhis said.

The pre-application also has an alternate plan that calls for 137 units—including some workforce housing—and no golf course. The golf course resort is the preferred option by the developer.

Kevin McAllister, founder of Defend H2O and who supported the rejected PDD, told Planning Board members that they need to pick the plan that is best for the environment. Though he declined to say which option he preferred this time, the former Peconic Baykeeper said he supported the PDD because the developer intended to use fertigation methods to control the release of nitrogen-rich fertilizers into already compromised groundwater.

“You should really raise the bar on whatever development is considered,” Mr. McAllister said.

Robert DeLuca, president of Group for the East End and another vocal opponent of the failed PDD, said he still does not support the creation of a golf course on the land. He said he does not understand how an 18-hole golf course could be considered a recreational amenity under the town law due to its “size and complexity.”

“They are more like a second primary use,” Mr. DeLuca said, referring to the 18-hole golf course.

Planning Board Chairman Dennis Finnerty noted that unlike the Town Board, whose members have more freedom when weighing the pros and cons of such applications, his members must closely adhere to the town code. “We have significantly higher restraints in our decision,” he said.

After two hours, Mr. Finnerty closed last week’s hearing, though his panel will continue accepting written comments on the application. Once it closes the hearing, the Planning Board will issue a report with its recommendations for the developer to follow when it files its formal application.

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I believe the plans are to have another public comment meeting, did I mis-hear that?
By Taz (725), East Quogue on Feb 23, 18 11:39 AM
1 member liked this comment
Discovery still wants to build a golf course on top of our sole source aquafer, this project should be denied from the start.
By bigfresh (4666), north sea on Feb 23, 18 11:56 AM
So stupid the golf course would be such an attractive addition to the community instead they're going to cut off their nose to spite their face and it density. The golf course PDD was the best decision as it was going to have ongoing monitoring of the groundwater and use of fertilizer. Xenophobic fools
By widow gavits (219), sag harbor on Feb 23, 18 4:18 PM
This is real, blatant cynicism. The present proposal will eliminate the 135 golf memberships that would have been available to the public under the rejected PDD proposal. It’s hard to see that as any kind of improvement if there’s still going to be a golf course, but the Hills supporters (actually, people being paid by the developer) are saying that’s a good thing because it will make for less traffic.

That’s like saying a hospital will only treat rich patients ...more
By Turkey Bridge (1979), Quiogue on Feb 24, 18 11:25 AM
I am a Hills supporter which I have made very clear, I have never been paid by the developer; you have been advised of this fact numerous times. Your defamatory statements must cease. You have made no secret of your identity and are subject to prosecution for your libelous conduct and slanderous statements.

You've been lying down with politicians and other thieves for so long, you believe that everyone has fleas. I assure you that is not the case. I, unlike you, present documented ...more
By VOS (1241), WHB on Feb 24, 18 2:26 PM
2 members liked this comment
I will be happy to provide you with any documentation and support that you need should you wish to pursue this.

I can be reached at mhissey@discoverylandco.com
By Mark Hissey (171), East Quogue on Feb 24, 18 2:35 PM
Did TB commit defamation against VOS? That's unlikely because defamation has to affect one's reputation and I don't believe TB has specifically said VOS was paid, but even if he had, there's no suggestion that the VOS' real reputation would be affected because he's an anonymous user on the internet.

However, do Mark Hissey and Discovery have a defamation case? Here, the allegation of paid support is directly tied to a real identity, both in the human and corporate sense. Would allegations ...more
Feb 24, 18 2:43 PM appended by Fore1gnBornHBgrown
One caveat: this entire comment relies on a presumption that the allegation of paid support is indeed false.
By Fore1gnBornHBgrown (8265), HAMPTON BAYS on Feb 24, 18 2:43 PM
1 member liked this comment
Turkey Bridge, you are absolutely correct in that the majority of the Town Board voted based on fact. Unfortunately, two of our Town Board members voted based on their feelings. These Board members knew all along that there was another viable path to a golf course within the Town Code.

So, for 135 golf memberships John Bouvier and Julie Lofstad cost the Town of Southampton over $13 million dollars in community benefits including, but not limited to:

The preservation of 33 acres ...more
By cmac (184), East Quogue on Feb 24, 18 6:10 PM
CMAC and VOS are definitely paid supporters, CMAC even started a fake facebook group to spread 'information'
By adlkjd923ilifmac.aladfksdurwp (747), southampton on Feb 25, 18 12:10 PM
1 member liked this comment
I find it hard to believe that one so adamant in his defense of a project with potentially devastating results to our drinking water, is not somehow connected to the developer.
By bigfresh (4666), north sea on Feb 25, 18 12:22 PM
1 member liked this comment
They're daring you to do something Mark. A failure to follow through would almost be an admission of soliciting paid supporters.
By Fore1gnBornHBgrown (8265), HAMPTON BAYS on Feb 25, 18 12:30 PM
I cannot wait for the day when The Press makes people sign in using their real names. Alphabet soup, while your attack is based on knowing who I am because I am a person of integrity who has signed my name to posts your facts are lacking. I am not now nor have I ever been paid by Discovery Land. The Facebook group you refer to is called Concerned Citizens of East Quogue. It’s not fake, it’s a real group of East Quogue residents sharing information that affects our Hamlet. All 227 members ...more
By cmac (184), East Quogue on Feb 25, 18 6:10 PM
1 member liked this comment
No Cmac, it doesn't make more sense.
Just because you allude to corruption does not mean that there is corruption.

What it is interesting is that the only thing your facebook group appears to be concerned with is the hills and the hills alone. . .
By adlkjd923ilifmac.aladfksdurwp (747), southampton on Feb 25, 18 6:59 PM
1 member liked this comment
Ha! wrong again...one of the most recent topics of debate was school safety. We have also discussed school finances, the proposed school bond, the proposed development at the head of Weesuck Creek, and other issues relevant to the residents of East Quogue.
By cmac (184), East Quogue on Feb 25, 18 7:14 PM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By VOS (1241), WHB on Mar 1, 18 3:30 AM
I totally agree with Vos, we are one in the same.
By adlkjd923ilifmac.aladfksdurwp (747), southampton on Mar 1, 18 11:47 AM
On the other hand, anyone who expects to draw insight from anonymous internet comments should temper their expectations and be prepared to verify.
By Fore1gnBornHBgrown (8265), HAMPTON BAYS on Mar 1, 18 11:53 AM
You mean one-sided misinformation.
By 2329702 (67), East Quogue on Mar 6, 18 1:03 PM
Funny that you mention "facts" George.
Fact: most Hills supporters are not paid.
Fact: every square inch of dry land on LI is "above the ground-water aquifer" including all other golf courses, and YOUR vacation home, which happens to be less than 50 feet from Quantuck Bay, which I don't swim in because of your septic system.
Fact: the facts are clear and proven elsewhere that this golf course would be far better than nearly any other type of development there.
Fact: you ignore ...more
By getalife (61), Southampton on Feb 24, 18 2:01 PM
Evert golf course is over our aquifer. Every home built near the water adds to the pollution.
Attitude, I got mine, now I'm a environmentalist . Stop all the variances given for under sized properties that want a pool, tennis court etc etc. Build a smaller pool, don't drain it into the bay. Redo your septic system, try to help the environment. Stop putting fertilizers and tons of water to wash it into the bays/ponds. Plant natural grasses with a leaching area.
By knitter (1941), Southampton on Feb 25, 18 11:40 AM
Guess I hit a nerve. Discovery must have rung the alarm bell and called out the Keystone Cops, because here they are.

Unlike some, when I post a comment under a 27east article, I try to stay within the bounds of that article. The Hills supporters to whom I referred as being paid by the developer are reported in this 2/23 article by Amanda Bernocco as “both hired by Discovery,” namely attorney Wayne Bruyn and consultant Chic Voorhis, and it’s a known fact that these professionals ...more
By Turkey Bridge (1979), Quiogue on Feb 25, 18 12:10 PM
1 member liked this comment
Oh, so you weren't referring to any commenters on these articles?

Alright then
By Fore1gnBornHBgrown (8265), HAMPTON BAYS on Feb 25, 18 1:33 PM
"... but the Hills supporters (actually, people being paid by the developer) are saying that’s a good thing because it will make for less traffic."

How do you read this quote from TB?
By bb (922), Hampton Bays on Feb 25, 18 11:09 PM
1 member liked this comment
My immediate question is "who said it will make for less traffic?"

If it is indeed a point advanced by Discovery's employees or consultants, then TB looks to be in the clear.
By Fore1gnBornHBgrown (8265), HAMPTON BAYS on Feb 25, 18 11:29 PM
Discovery Land will build, move somewhere else and start again. No tie to our community...
By knitter (1941), Southampton on Feb 26, 18 10:04 AM
"The applicant cannot add a golf course as an accessory use."
"We have significantly higher restraints in our decision," Mr. Finnerty said.
In the last Town Board election, the results were clear -- candidates that opposed the DLC received far higher vote counts than candidates that supported this development. The DLC used delay tactics over and over -- some pretty shady -- until the election in the hopes that would not be the case. I suggest the same occur here. Mr. Finnerty's term ...more
By dfree (818), hampton bays on Feb 26, 18 10:20 AM
... I disagree with Amper, the golf course is not a second primary use of the property, it is THE primary use.
By William Rodney (561), southampton on Feb 26, 18 2:09 PM
2 members liked this comment
Are the same people that supported The Hills project now supporting this project? If so, why?
By 2329702 (67), East Quogue on Mar 5, 18 9:44 AM
Very strange censoring going on here.

A poster made a bald faced lie alleging that I am a paid supporter of Discovery Land. This is a claim other posters have made in the past and is completely false which I have noted on numerous occasions. I called out the poster, using no foul or otherwise inappropriate language other than to claim that his post was a lie.

Am I to understand that he is permitted to make false, accusatory, libelous claims but I am not permitted to identify ...more
By VOS (1241), WHB on Mar 7, 18 3:02 AM
The rejected PDD plan was the best deal for East Quogue. That had the most benefits and protections for our town. As a 30 year resident, I would welcome the Development of this Property if it could include most of the benefits and/or requirements of the original agreement of the Planned Development District. What a shame this agreement failed because it now looks like we will get a development without the previously negotiated benefits. I will withhold my vote for those responsible for this ...more
By Jim Sutton (5), East Quogue on Mar 8, 18 2:53 PM
1 member liked this comment