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Oct 27, 2008 2:57 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Despite scrutiny, Quiogue subdivision approved

Oct 27, 2008 2:57 PM

The 33-lot Oakland Farms subdivision in Quiogue received final approval from the Southampton Town Planning Board on October 23, despite public opposition to the proposal.

The resolution passed by a 5-1 margin, with board member Jacqui Lofaro casting the dissenting vote. Board member Alma Hyman was not present.

The lots in the subdivision have been listed for sale with Kerrigan Country Realty in Westhampton Beach. Prices range from $560,000 for an empty building lot to $1.3 million for the most expensive 3,000-square-foot custom home.

The subdivision will be on a 49-acre parcel of land just north of South Country Road between Peters Lane to the east and Adam and Jeffrey lanes to the west, just south of Gabreski Airport.

Though the project has recently been the subject of a good deal of public scrutiny and pleas from community members that the property be purchased by the town through its open space preservation program, Planning Board members had given preliminary approval to the project nearly two years ago, paving the way for an almost certain final approval.

In what has become an all-too-frequent issue with Planning Board reviews, much of the outcry came too late to be seriously considered by the board.

Ms. Lofaro said this week that she believed the project should have gone through a full environmental review.

“You have homes that are built very close to one of the most active runways” at the airport, she said, adding that the property, which is at the headwaters of Aspatuck Creek, which drains into Quantuck Bay, is a very environmentally sensitive one.

“The process doesn’t serve the Planning Board when we get information late and after a determination is made,” she said.

Ms. Lofaro added that, given the way the Southampton Town code is currently structured, the Planning Board does not have the opportunity to receive public comment before it issues negative or positive declarations according to the State Environmental Quality Review Act. Those declarations determine whether or not the properties will need extensive environmental review.

“Part of it is now the code,” she says, pointing out that the decision whether or not an extensive environmental review is required must be made by the board when an application is deemed complete. “That’s very early in the process. I have tried to get that code changed so that we can have a public hearing prior to determination of significance. The process really doesn’t serve smart planning.”

Ms. Lofaro added that there is state case law supporting allowing local governments to hold public hearings before the Planning Board decides if projects need extensive environmental review, but currently the Southampton Town code doesn’t allow for that step in the SEQRA process.

“I think it facilitates the process and respects public comment,” she said.

Town Board member Nancy Graboski said that the possibility of holding public hearings earlier in the process “has been talked about the past few years” in the town, but she cautioned that public hearings could lengthen the time it takes to do the reviews. She said that the Town Board, which may need to adopt a revision to the town code to allow an earlier public hearing, would consider doing so if such a change was proposed by the Planning Board.

She added that there are provisions for rescinding negative declarations written into the SEQRA law, but, as evidenced in the board’s recent decision not to rescind a negative declaration for a property atop a plume of contaminated groundwater known as Woodfield Gables, it often doesn’t work in practice.

Town Attorney Dan Adams said that he would like to research whether the town has the authority to add another step in the SEQRA process, and if so, if it could be made discretionary, so that straightforward applications do not necessarily need to go through the public hearing process.

Group for the East End President Bob DeLuca has been a vocal critic of the Planning Board’s issuance of negative declarations for properties ranging from Woodfield Gables and Oakland Farms to a proposed retail and office complex, Water Mill Station, at the old train station in Water Mill.

“It’s something we’ve been interested in for a long time,” he said of a potential revision to the SEQRA process. “I think the basic issue is very simple. The public needs to have the opportunity to examine significant applications before the Planning Board makes a SEQRA determination. That’ll help with virtually every project coming down the pike.”

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It's time for the residents of Bridle Path to pool together and file an Article 78 action... since the Planning Board can't or won't do their job let's get the courts to make them! YOU ONLY HAVE THIRTY DAYS TO FILE AN ARTICLE 78 SO LET'S GET GOING!
By Resident (42), Westhampton Beach on Oct 29, 08 6:28 AM
Before worrying about this subdivision's effect on Quantuck Bay consider the fact that all of the main street business district empties into Moniebogue Bay , all the McMansions on Quantuck Bay , and the hundreds of homes on Westhampton Dunes !
By PrivateerMatt (390), Southampton on Oct 29, 08 12:00 PM
Great news-more work for local people, and more quality homes in the school district.
By Lefty46 (56), Westhampton on Oct 29, 08 12:10 PM
PrivateerMatt... Get a map. We have all heard that technically bogus axiom during the push to get a sewer district in the Village of Westhampton Beach... and it has NOTHING to do with Quantuck it was Moniebogue… fortunately the facts are very different and there are studies by both the Suffolk County Health Department and DEC that contradict that very statement.
Lefty46… Seriously, do you believe that the construction crews that are currently working on the east end of Long Island employ locals? ...more
By Resident (42), Westhampton Beach on Oct 29, 08 4:26 PM
Resident , I don't need a map ! I boat on these waters.Moniebogue bay is right next to Quantuck , separated by the Quantuck Canal.Get your facts straight !
By PrivateerMatt (390), Southampton on Oct 30, 08 12:46 PM