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May 6, 2016 10:30 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Suffolk County Planning Commission Approves Southampton Town's Proposed PDD Moratorium

Southampton Town Councilmen Stan Glinka and John Bouvier and Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman at Thursday's work session. ALYSSA MELILLO
May 10, 2016 2:10 PM

The Suffolk County Planning Commission last week approved Southampton Town’s proposed one-year moratorium on planned development districts, giving the Town Board the go-ahead to move forward with enacting the legislation.

The 15-member commission unanimously approved the moratorium at its monthly meeting on May 4, but added a condition: Town officials must provide a quarterly report detailing their progress in reviewing the current law on PDDs, with an eye toward making changes in that law.

PDDs are special zoning that, if approved by the Town Board, allow applicants to bypass established zoning—typically to permit more intense development, or a different use—in exchange for community benefits.

Proposed by Town Councilman John Bouvier, the one-year moratorium would mean the Town Board would stop reviewing and accepting new applications for PDDs. While the moratorium is in place, town officials would evaluate the legislation, looking in particular at the rules surrounding the community benefit requirement.

The moratorium would not apply to PDD applications that have already passed the public hearing stage of pre-application review. That means that The Hills at Southampton proposal in East Quogue, Gateway in Bridgehampton, and the Townhouses in Water Mill all would be exempt.

Pitched by Arizona-based Discovery Land Company, The Hills application seeks to build 118 residential units—95 single-family homes, 13 clubhouse cabins and 10 clubhouse condominiums—as well as an 18-hole golf course on 168 acres along Spinney Road in East Quogue.

The Gateway proposal is a mixed-use development that would feature 85,000 square feet of commercial space, 15,000 square feet of affordable housing, and about 5,000 square feet of market-rate housing on 13 acres on Montauk Highway directly across from the Bridgehampton Commons.

The Townhouses PDD application seeks permission to build 48 townhouses on 6.45 acres between Montauk Highway and Nowedonah Avenue in downtown Water Mill.

At a Town Board work session on Thursday, May 5, Supervisor Jay Schneiderman, who attended the commission meeting with Mr. Bouvier, said the board expressed concerns about the length of the moratorium and feared that the Town Board would drag out the review process. The supervisor said he explained to commission members that the Town Board will set up a committee representing environmental, civic, planning and development interests to review the legislation and prepare a report every three months.

“We committed that we would provide them with a quarterly … report,” Mr. Schneiderman said. “We’ll be able now to vote on the moratorium.”

Mr. Bouvier said last Thursday that the Town Board would be able to vote on the moratorium after today, May 12, when a 30-day written public comment period on the proposed legislation ends. He added that he was “very pleased” with the commission’s decision.

“I felt that the Planning Commission was very open, and we made a specific effort to help them understand,” Mr. Bouvier said. “I don’t believe that they did not discount the possibility of an extension, if we need it.”

Municipalities are required to file moratorium laws with the Suffolk County Planning Commission before voting to enact them, as it is up to that board to grant permission to revise codes at the local level. Earlier this year, residents in Sag Harbor questioned the legality of that village’s controversial building moratorium, as officials there had not filed the law with the commission.

Barbara Roberts, Southampton Town’s representative on the Planning Commission, said Friday that although it took some time to convince commissioners from western Suffolk County that PDDs are a unique problem to the town, Mr. Schneiderman and Mr. Bouvier “did an excellent job of explaining the PDD situation.”

“The fact that neither Southold nor East Hampton has this way of zoning certainly added to the understanding of the up-island commissioners that this is unusual,” she said.

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What it means is the town board does not have to there job
By farmlocal (83), Southampton on May 6, 16 11:08 AM
By But I'm a blank! (1283), Hampton Bays on May 6, 16 11:18 AM
1 member liked this comment
Do you mean the PDD freeze that doesn't actually freeze any of the proposed PDDs?
By Gillnetter (105), Hampton Bays on May 6, 16 12:59 PM
1 member liked this comment
Just another stop to any kind of progression in this town. Now the Board can kick back and keep the status quo. The CPF can buy up land. Farrell can buy up individual houses. And, we can keep the same mish mosh of dilapidated businesses along the CR39 corridor without any foresight or meaningful residential planning in Southampton and its hamlets. Lets hope for more tire shops, rotating delis and maybe a Laundromat or two. Throw in a couple more falling down restaurant buildings with unapproved ...more
By Mouthampton (439), Southampton on May 8, 16 9:36 AM
Maybe if the last town board was capable of making fair and smart decisions on the existing PDDs, there would not be a need to repeal this law. It's too bad the tool will be going away but it's not the current administration's fault. Blame the last one for reckless inaction.
By eagleeye (82), Sag Harbor on May 9, 16 8:52 AM
This is such a political stunt. Since the town board is not compelled to even review a PDD application, and cannot freeze the in-process application reviews with this moratorium, what is the point of the moratorium? If all you think will happen is that the board will now debate eliminating the PDD law, can't anyone go back in time to see why it was the PDD law was enacted in the first place? If we modify the PDD, or clarify some of the things that seem to make people very upset, that doesn't require ...more
By Rickenbacker (257), Southampton on May 8, 16 1:18 PM
Come on, Rickenbacker, you're not that ignorant. You're just being disingenuous, exactly like Councilwoman Christine Scalera when she argues the same thing -- that the PDD moratorium isn't needed because the Town Board can go ahead and ignore or deny PDD applications.

There's a PDD law on the books, folks. I have an idea that just ignoring applications would be plain illegal, but even if that's not so, where's the fairness or the practicality in simply ignoring or denying PDD applications ...more
By Turkey Bridge (1979), Quiogue on May 8, 16 6:09 PM
Turkey you have been identified as an attorney? The environmentalists, while they may not side with Ms. Scalera yet on what should became of the PDD, have all agreed with Ms. Scalera's legal assessment of the pabulum offered by the majority by this notion of a moratorium of PDD's. The Town Board does not have to accept applications or hear anything with or without a moratorium. This moratorium idea is, and always has been, a political stunt orchestrated by the Supervisor and his two following ...more
By Roughrider28 (80), southampton on May 8, 16 10:53 PM
I stand by my post 100%. Even if Christine Scalera's proposal doesn't technically violate the law, it surely violates any standard of fairness and practicality.
By Turkey Bridge (1979), Quiogue on May 9, 16 9:48 AM
You are off topic and do not make sense. Ms. Scalera has made no proposal upon which to comment and is not the point of my post. Your reply then serves only to enforce your obvious frustration and sidesteps the real issue.

The current Board majority lead by the Supervisor orchestrated this meaningless gesture of a moratorium for no legitimate purpose. Whats more, they exploited the voters by seizing the opportunity to make it look as though they were going to stop certain PDD applications ...more
By Roughrider28 (80), southampton on May 9, 16 10:10 PM
Turkey Bridge, I simply requested a level-headed explanation on the real need for this moratorium knowing full well the board does not legally or ethically have to consider any if it doesn't want to. Instead, you attack me, not the issue. That's sort of telling to me that you don't really have a good foundation on which to defend this moratorium idea. It's just a political smoke and mirrors ploy, to fulfill some campaign pledges, which were no vetted during the election process. The other canard ...more
By Rickenbacker (257), Southampton on May 10, 16 10:19 AM
The law has been abused plain and simple.There is close to $100 million in the CPF found use it, and buy some more land.
By JM11968 (71), southampton on May 10, 16 10:12 PM
IMHO there should be 2 changes to the law:

1. Instead of the applicant supplying some sort of community benefit, the PDD itself must be deemed a community benefit.

2. After the board has done its due diligence and if the PDD has passed the board, it must then be placed on the ballot in the next general election for approval by the voters at large. The SHTB has repeatedly shown it cannot be trusted with the authority to act alone.
By bird (829), Sag Harbor on May 14, 16 6:10 PM