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Oct 28, 2014 5:40 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

The Hills Application Lists 19 Benefits; Residents Still Wary

Oct 29, 2014 9:43 AM

A 76-page document outlining The Hills at Southampton—a plan that would place 118 homes and an 18-hole golf course on 168 acres in East Quogue, and dedicate 426 acres as open space—lists 19 different ways the development would benefit the community.

The Southampton Town Board has not announced when it will review the application for the mixed-use planned development district, which was submitted last Tuesday, October 21. In order to meet PDD guidelines, the developer, Discovery Land Company, an Arizona-based firm, must provide specific community benefits.

The plan lists 19 such benefits—worth an estimated value of $3.7 million for the first year, and $10 million per year after that, according to the firm—including providing enhanced wastewater treatment where it is feasible for The Hills; participating in research of high-tech septic systems for use in the town; adding watershed improvements that will benefit Weesuck Creek and the western portion of Shinnecock Bay; providing more downtown parking in East Quogue; and restoring habitats in the open space on The Hills parcel and in Shinnecock Bay.

The list also includes five benefits geared toward the East Quogue School District. The plans ensure, through a restrictive covenant, that no students from the development will be attending the elementary school, reducing the impact on the district financially. The golf course also will allow use by students for golf team practice and educational programs, and will host five charity outings per year to benefit the school or town. The developers also pledge to fund improvements to the East Quogue School’s soccer field, to build sidewalks and install a crosswalk from Spinney Road to Old Country Road, and to dedicate nine-tenths of an acre to the district.

The company listed estimated values of each benefit, ranging from $40,000 to improve fields at East Quogue School to $4.4 million per year added to the tax base.

“Ultimately, the big issue with this property is stopping kids from going to the school,” Mark Hissey, senior vice president of Discovery Land, said on Tuesday. “The security guard to stop that from happening is a covenant in place that will ensure kids that live on the property do not enroll in schools and have a set primary residence elsewhere.”

The covenant, he continued, will allow residents to occupy the homes for only a certain number of days each year. Mr. Hissey said these homes will be second and third vacation homes, and he expects that people will spend on average about 60 days per year in The Hills.

Despite the list of benefits proposed with the plan, some residents are still hesitant to get on board, pointing to concerns about traffic and the potential adverse environmental impacts.

Ellen Block, who lives off of Spinney Road, said she worries about how the homes will affect the quality of life in the otherwise quiet neighborhood. “I’m opposed to this project because of the increased traffic and the fact that it’ll be crowded,” she said Tuesday morning. “I like it out here. It’s nice and quiet, and I think the atmosphere will take a different turn.”

Diane Stewart, who lives around the corner from Ms. Block on Spinney Road, touched on a similar point. “We have enough traffic,” she said. “It’s amazing how they speed down this road. I could see them having to put in a light to regulate it.”

She also said she worries about the water quality and the possible damage such a large development could do.

“We’ve been fortunate with our water,” she said. “My main concern is the water quality if they build. If they contaminate it, it’ll be a major blow to this town.”

Mr. Hissey said the company included multiple benefits having to do with water quality and protecting Shinnecock Bay because both are major concerns for residents. “We want to engage Stony Brook Southampton, the Southampton Town Trustees, the Group for the East End, and look for advice as to the best way to restore the habitat out there,” he said, though he has not yet opened discussion with any of the groups.

But not all residents are as concerned as Ms. Block and Ms. Stewart.

Pat Dansieski, whose family owns a farm on Lewis Road, believes the developers should be able to do what they want with their land.

“They’re going to be regulated—we all are,” she said. “But he should be able to do whatever he wants. It’s his property. [Residents] already gave him a hard time, now let him do what he wants.”

Ms. Dansieski explained that she believes the environmental regulations placed on the development will be better than what could happen if the land is divided and sold as individual homes. “They’d have fertilizer in the ground and kids in the school,” she said, explaining that the mixed-use planned development district would place restrictions on both.

The plan submitted last week, however, was very different from the pre-application that was previously approved by the Town Board.

The pre-application for the project called for the construction of only 82 single-family houses on 436 acres that sit north of Montauk Highway, between Lewis and Spinney roads, and continuing north across Sunrise Highway. The Southampton Town Board approved the pre-application 4-1, with Councilwoman Bridget Fleming casting the only opposing vote.

Last week, Discovery Land submitted the revised proposal, which added 162 acres. Mr. Hissey said that his firm has all but closed on the purchase of additional land. He explained that the current plan is to preserve those two properties—101 acres that are now owned by the Parlato family, and another 62 acres still under the ownership of the Kracke family—while eventually transferring their development rights to Discovery’s main 436-acre lot.

With those pending purchases now in place, the company is requesting that it be allowed to transfer the development rights from those two parcels—which could yield up to 36 single-family homes combined—to its main property, permitting the construction of 118 luxury homes total, up from the 82 that it had originally pitched. The deal for the additional 162 acres, however, is contingent on the Town Board approving Discovery’s application for a proposed mixed-use PDD.

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Nope, the bigger issue is the pollution and additional traffic that, "The Hills" will subject the EQ resident to!

Densieski is looking forward to the additional traffic and those who may very well frequent her farm stand. It is all about the money for business owners!

Restrictive covenants rarely are enforced and just who is going to monitor that no children go to the EQ School?

This development is about smoke and mirrors and the only residents who are for it are those ...more
By crusader (391), East Quogue on Nov 3, 14 6:10 PM
1 member liked this comment
What full time resident is going to buy a 5 million dollar house and send them to school here? Wealthy people wouldn't subject their kids to the East Quoque school district. The place is a win win for east Quoque and projects like this lower taxes for regular residents. East Quoque needs a project like this.
By chief1 (2800), southampton on Nov 3, 14 8:56 PM
Win win, really? How about putting this proposal in your neighborhood? To me, the water quality and additional traffic is the deal breaker here. I have no problem paying a little more in my tax bill to keep out a development and a golf course in MY backyard!
By crusader (391), East Quogue on Nov 4, 14 8:10 AM
1 member liked this comment
Leave no potage stamp undeveloped...
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Nov 4, 14 8:43 AM