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Jun 3, 2011 12:06 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Residents Mobilize Against Proposed Camp Expansion In North Sea

Editor's Note: An earlier version of this story featured erroneous information about the nature of the project. This updated version corrects the information, based on an interview with the company's CEO.
Jun 7, 2011 2:26 PM

A large group of residents protested the proposed expansion of a seasonal day camp in North Sea at a public hearing before the Southampton Town Zoning Board of Appeals on Thursday night, June 2, citing concerns about noise, density, traffic and potential pollution affecting nearby Little Fresh Pond.

Nearly three dozen residents filled the seats in the second-floor room at Town Hall, and approximately two dozen of them stood up to voice their opposition to the application by Glen Cove-based Southampton Day Camp Realty LLC. The firm is seeking a variance to allow the expansion of offerings at the seasonal day camp on nearly 17.3 acres off Majors Path, in the hopes of attracting an enrollment of up to 400 campers during weekdays only, according to town documents.

The campers would arrive at the site between 8:30 a.m. and 9 a.m. and depart at around 3:30 p.m., according to Jay Jacobs, the managing partner and CEO of Southampton Day Camp Realty LLC. Also under the plan, Mr. Jacobs said 60 employees would be permitted to live on the grounds.

Currently on site are nearly 13 cottages, according to a copy of the current site plan. There are also tennis courts and a basketball court. The site was used as a tennis club and a day camp, although it won’t be used in that capacity this summer, Mr. Jacobs said. It’s unclear how many employees and campers previously used the site.

Mr. Jacobs bought the property in 2010 from Southampton Racquet Club LLC, which was owned by Millennium Partners, a hotelier firm based in New York City. He said the site had three previous uses: it was a day camp for children, a tennis club, and the cottages on the site were rented out. Mr. Jacobs said he believes all three uses were occurring last summer.

A number of buildings would be renovated as part of the plan. In addition, swimming pools, recreational courts, facilities and playing fields would be added.

According to a document that the applicant filed with the town, the entire property has been used as a sports camp and facility since the 1930s. The current owners maintain that people have stayed overnight in cottages rented out on the property at some point in its past. But it’s not clear when that use stopped: Residents say children haven’t attended overnight camp there for decades, perhaps as long as 40 years.

ZBA Vice Chairman Adam Grossman said the board is charged with two tasks: determining whether the property is a preexisting, nonconforming use, meaning that the day camp use of the site—a use not permitted in a residential zone—existed before zoning was created in Southampton Town; and determining whether the use of the property was abandoned for a period of years, which residents suggest is the case. If so, Mr. Grossman said, the use could be determined to have been lost, meaning the applicant wouldn’t have a case for a preexisting, nonconforming use. Using that criteria, the board will have to determine whether to allow an expansion of the use.

“We’ve got our work cut out for us,” Mr. Grossman said. “It’s a very interesting application.”

The Zoning Board did not make a decision on the application and adjourned the hearing until July 7. The board also voted to give the Town Planning Board lead agency status on the application; that means the Planning Board will review the environmental aspects of the application under the State Environment Quality Review Act.

Wayne D. Bruyn, an attorney from the firm O’Shea, Marcincuk & Bruyn in Southampton, represented the applicant at last week’s public hearing. He said he did not have any comments to add after residents spoke at length about the application.

Many who spoke implored individual board members to consider whether they would like such a project next door to them.

“Think of it if it was your home,” said Susan Yungbluth. “What would you feel about it if it was happening down your road?”

Southampton Day Camp Realty, LLC is affiliated with TLC Kids Group, according to town documents. Mr. Jacobs, the president and CEO of the group, has already overseen several camps, including the Hampton Country Day Camp, which has been in operation for four seasons on Buckskill Road in East Hampton. The North Sea property is zoned for half-acre residential use; Mr. Jacobs said the site is already approved for a 14-lot subdivision.

“That’s an alternate plan that anyone could [do] who buys the property,” Mr. Jacobs said. “It’s done and it’s approved. But that’s not my plan. I’m a camp guy. That’s what I do.”

In Mr. Jacobs’s view, there are three main issues being voiced about the application that he believes he’s already overcome.

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Good Luck Camp Realty, LLC. . . glad the residents got together and voiced their opinions in such numbers. No surprise Wayne "I wrote the code" Bruyn had no further comment.
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on Jun 3, 11 12:56 PM
500 people, on 17 acres?

A touch too much, ya' think?
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Jun 3, 11 2:02 PM
i think it's a great plan. they're objecting against a camp facility, really? how about a 17 lot subdivision which may be an alternative plan. the camp offers the best possible use without added density and financial burden to a school district not to mention that it will remain quasi open space with a significant green belt..
By BIGjimbo12 (201), East Quogue on Jun 5, 11 10:27 PM
2 members liked this comment
If 500 people cr@p in 17 acres of woods, can you smell it? I'd rather have a 17 lot subdivision which would require a cluster treatment and preservation of exisiting trail connections (to the Nature Conservancy piece to the northwest) than this proposal. The amount of nitrogen that would be pumped into the ground from 500 people over 3 months is more than from 17 homes (most of which would be seasonal) on a yearly basis.
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on Jun 6, 11 9:26 AM
An updated version of the story is above--the company CEO contacted us to let us know that the project actually does NOT involve any campers staying overnight, and only about 60 employees would be living on the grounds.
By Joseph Shaw, Executive Editor (206), Hampton Bays on Jun 6, 11 11:35 AM
SO, this would be just another Sandy Hollow Day Camp?
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Jun 6, 11 8:15 PM
Poor planning is difficult to correct once in place. I know the tax revenue sounds good now, but the unintended consequences of over developement can far outweigh the short term gains of building and implementing a new and grandiose campground.
By kguardrail (1), Rotonda West on Jun 7, 11 7:57 PM
1 member liked this comment
How is the nitrogen content in Little Fresh these days?
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Jun 7, 11 8:04 PM
60 workers. Means 60 cars. The traffic around Majors Path/North Sea-Mecox HIGHWAY is already a joke in the morning and afternoons. A joke. Snap on Tool trucks that weigh to much for the LOCAL back roads. Norsic MININ packers! Yes, Norsic... and everyone in between...

We should make a no right turn from Upper 7 Ponds to N Sea Mecox from 2-6 in the afternoon. How's this: NO LEFT from N Sea-Mecox onto North Sea road from 2-6PM.

Now add this CAMP into the mix... it's starting to ...more
By ridethetruthwave (17), southampton on Jun 7, 11 10:21 PM
If thats true that the site is approved for 17 homes, that would have less impact on the environment than the camp. Avg 4 people per house = 68 potential persons. The only way to solve the effluent problem woul dbe if the "camp" installed its own Sewage Treatment Plant. That would slove the effluent or place it in tanks and pumped it out like the ocunty parks odes, But it doesnt solve the traffic of noise. Ive been here a awhile and I never seen a bus load of campers or anyone other than people ...more
By North Sea Citizen (568), North Sea on Jun 8, 11 6:15 AM
17 more homes we don't need out here.. I vote for the camp. All you people complaining about traffic probably don't even drive anywhere anyway, while this camp is open. You're the "We don't go out between Memorial Day, and Labor Day" folks, that don't even understand what makes our economy tick around here. There will be a lot more green out there with a camp, rather than a bunch of cookie cutter homes stacked on top of each other, with "sod" for landscaping.
I'd much rather see them try ...more
By The Royal 'We' (199), Southampton on Jun 8, 11 9:41 AM
Hey, with the college gone, the nitrogen loading will work out (until they move Southampton Hospital to the college location anyway!)

As I see it, the locals don't want anything, ever, ever again and camps should be outlawed along with beaches, plastic grocery bags. traffic, grocery stores, people from Jersey, people from the upper east side, people from the WEST side (yikes!), signs with color, color in general, outdoor dining, music, dancing, family cook outs................shall I ...more
By BIGjimbo12 (201), East Quogue on Jun 13, 11 12:33 AM
It seems to me that support for the application becomes stronger in direct relationship to the distance between the writer and the site in question. Try having something of this scale plunked down on your doorstep and see if your perspective doesn't change.

But, you know, if the project as described in the application, was, as you state, just an "expansion of a legally existing buisiness", they wouldn't need to ask for variences and "any other relief necessary" from the code.

This ...more
By nagaika (6), Southampton on Jun 21, 11 2:50 AM