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Jan 14, 2015 11:56 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Sagaponack Village Board Tosses Out Application For Single Home

Jan 14, 2015 2:08 PM

The Sagaponack Village Board this week rejected an application from the owners of one of the village’s last and largest undeveloped oceanfront parcels to build a lone house on a corner of the 43-acre property.

In a scathing decision that echoed much of the distrust and accusatory tone of the board’s queries about the project over the past year, the board said that it was rejecting the application because it appeared to be blatant attempt to circumvent the board’s preferences in the layout of a grander subdivision of the property.

“In reaching this decision the board has been troubled by its perception that the presentation of this site plan application has over and again suffered from an effort to mischaracterize facts or to misstate facts or to avoid facts,” Sagaponack Village Mayor Don Louchheim said at Monday’s meeting, reading from the board’s official written decision on the application. “All of which has resulted in the board’s inability to find the letters or testimony of the applicant to be credible.

“Stated differently,” Mr. Louchheim continued, “an application for site plan approval of one residence on 43.5 acres faithful to village code … could not have been made more difficult than applicant and its representatives made this process.”

The application, filed by an LLC called Sagaponack Ventures, asked for permission to build a single, nearly 14,000-square-foot house on 2.5 acres of land at the northwestern corner of the sweeping Daniels Lane property, at the farthest point from the ocean.

But since the application was introduced last spring, board members have seemed to see the somewhat slapdash application—the decision notes that the house plans submitted with the application was a rudimentary template of a prefabricated structure, downloadable from the internet—as a front for a longer-term plan to develop the rest of the lot in a configuration different from a 2008 plan that the board has made clear is its preferred development scheme.

That plan called for three 3-acre oceanfront house lots at the southern edge of the land, with a fourth lot adjacent to the northern boundary of the western lot—which would preserve the farmland vista from Daniels Lane. The Village Board, which also serves as the village’s planning and development review board, had issued a pre-application approval of that layout, before the application was withdrawn amid legal infighting among the three partners in the venture.

But if the current proposal were approved, putting the lone building lot along Daniels Lane, the board has said it believes the landowners intend to return with a new proposal to subdivide the oceanfront land—in essence, undermining the board’s earlier decision.

The property targeted for the development was initially purchased by Marc Goldman for approximately $15 million, according to town records. Mr. Goldman then reportedly sold equal partnerships to two other investors, Michael Hirtenstein and Milton Berlinski, for $15 million each. The partnership then donated an agricultural easement on nearly 26 acres of the land to the Peconic Land Trust, bringing the principals a windfall of tax credits on the latent development.

The threat of a legal challenge to the board’s decision has loomed large over the proposal due to the litigious history behind the property. The board has had a stenographer to take verbatim notes of all the public review sessions on the application. And the transcripts from the lawsuit among the partners were recently made part of the record in the board’s review of the Sagaponack Ventures application, although no specific portions of the suit were ever discussed.

Sagaponack Ventures’ attorney, David Eagan, left Monday’s meeting immediately following the board’s reading of the decision, without comment. On Wednesday he declined to say whether the owners planned to file a legal challenge to the decision, offering only a written statement on the ruling.

“Landowners everywhere,” he wrote, “should be concerned when an application to build one house on over 43 acres is denied.”

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In my opinion this some menmbers on this board have gone crazy, I can tell you from first hand accounts... IMO they are as of late out of control... At times there decisions do not even seem to follow there own draconian code and seem to be against anything that involves a hammer and nails
By joe hampton (3461), southampton on Jan 16, 15 10:10 AM
Watch the Minority Report, you can get convicted today for crimes you may commit in the future.

Don is an elitists, was and always will be. This issue seems to be a completely arbitrary and capricious decision. It will be overturned in Supreme Court.
By whatapity (106), Tuckahoe on Jan 16, 15 1:02 PM
1 member liked this comment
One house on 40 acres is what I thought people wanted? This is the first time I've heard of more density. The village has now overstepped their bounds, and you will now watch the village be sued into oblivion. The village is denying someone's rights. PERIOD
By chief1 (2800), southampton on Jan 16, 15 8:13 PM
1 member liked this comment
they don't want anything except a halt to ANYTHING , Building Inspector John Woodsma has the toughest job in town trying to explain why this board does the things it does to the people who thought they owned there property.

No one wants this place to look like Queens but they are absolutely out of control and I could show you 3 examples I personal know of...

People of Sagaponack you have property rights... stop letting this Village Board push you around to the point of ridiculous ...more
Jan 21, 15 2:00 PM appended by joe hampton
By joe hampton (3461), southampton on Jan 21, 15 2:00 PM
Sounds like the board is trying to stop a back door attempt to pile up a bunch of McMansions along Daniels Road. As far as I'm concerned whatever can be done to preserve that beautiful stretch of land should be done.
By BillWillConn3 (180), Southampton on Jan 16, 15 8:27 PM
2 members liked this comment
Finally some common sense!
Look at early pictures of W Suffolk and Nassau county--they used to look like Sagaponack.
Not too long ago one could look across the fields and see the ocean from Montauk Hway.
20 years from now we'll be glad this Board was able to protect this important view
By aging hipster (201), Southampton on Jan 17, 15 6:32 AM
1 member liked this comment