The second public hearing held in December (2016) regarding the Town of Southampton’s offer to purchase all of the 592 acres in East Quogue presently slated for development by Discovery Land Company (DLC) of a golf resort and residential development to be known as The Hills at Southampton became contentious and led to no resolution among the combatants.
The third public hearing was held on January 10, at East Quogue Elementary School, which location was changed to accommodate the anticipated large attendance.
What’s the issue? DLC’s proposed construction of an 18-hole golf course, 108 single-family homes and 10 condominiums on 168 acres to be built very near Spinney Road in the hamlet of East Quogue. The Town’s proposal to purchase the land from DCL has been rejected twice since 2011.
The second hearing, lasting more than four hours, with approximately 100 speakers, pitted impassioned citizens to temporarily abandon not only their manners but the fact that they are all members of the same community. Many residents feel and voiced their objections that the development would negatively impact the Long Island Pine Barrens region, along with other concerns, while those in favor of the development feel just as strongly that the development will benefit the community economically.
In anticipation of the fourth and final hearing, scheduled for February 7, Southampton Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman relayed the present situation as “DLC is a good company and has done successful developments and enjoys a very good reputation,” however, there is a strict set of 11 to 12 criteria in place to judge, rather than just ‘as of right zoning.’ “They need four votes, and the supporters think they can meet these criteria, however, as currently proposed the criteria simply will not be met for compliance.”
Schneiderman has devoted his energy for more than a decade to preserving the land as open space, and advised that monies for the purchase would have come from the Community Preservation Fund (CPF). “We have learned and know the benefits and adherence to environmentally friendly golf courses, but nonetheless there are restrictions.” A previous purchase offer of $35 million was, in fact, substantially more than what DCL expended when purchasing the land, and Schneiderman continued, “I feel this development was a bad idea, and in particular the effects it would have on East Quogue and surrounding areas.”
Concluding, Schneiderman stressed, “Presently, we do not know the fate or outcome, and I will not make any decision until after the fourth and final public hearing as I feel it would be an insult to the public for a decision to be reached before the hearings are concluded.”