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Aug 19, 2009 12:03 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

7-lot subdivision and reserve planned for Ross School property

Aug 19, 2009 12:03 PM

The Ross School is advancing plans to subdivide its 27-acre property on Butter Lane in Bridgehampton, creating a six-lot subdivision for single-family homes and an 11-acre agricultural reserve—a move that could eventually generate a significant amount of money for the private school.

The Ross School, the only private kindergarten-through-12th grade school on the East End, is asking the Southampton Town Planning Board for permission to create a seven-lot subdivision on its Butter Lane campus, according to its attorney, Eric Bregman of Gilmartin and Bregman in Southampton. Six of the lots, which would be more than 1 acre each, are slated for single-family homes. The seventh lot, a little over 8 acres, is on the northern portion of the property and encompasses the school and its gym.

The school has long-term plans to sell the subdivision to a real estate developer as a means of making the 2006 merger it had with the Morriss Center financially feasible. It is not clear how much money the school stands to gain from the sale.

Michele Claeys, the head of the Ross School, was not available to answer questions on the matter, but she did provide a prepared statement. In it, she explained that the 27 acres are not used for the programs offered at the Ross School’s Bridgehampton campus, where the youngest students, up to grade four, attend classes. She said that the land was part of the former Morriss Center’s campus and the Hampton Day School before that.

“The proceeds from the sale will support the school’s long-term sustainability plan, including funding programs and scholarships,” Ms. Claeys wrote in an e-mail.

The Ross School’s main campus, on Goodfriend Drive in East Hampton, offers classes for students in grades five through 12.

Leonard Ackerman of Ackerman O’Brien Pachman and Brown in East Hampton, who is also working on the project, was not available for comment this week.

The land slated for the subdivision now provides open space for athletic fields, though they are not often used by the school. The rest of the 27 acres is vacant, according to documents on file with the town.

The subdivision application was scheduled to come before the Planning Board at its meeting last Thursday, August 13, but plans were changed, according to Town Planner Matthew Briones, who is handling the application. Mr. Briones said that he is waiting on an archeological report on the property that will help the board decide whether to require an extensive environmental review.

Mr. Briones said that the application first came before the board in May 2007 and has slowly been working its way through the planning process. “There has been some discussion about the preservation of open space and the view from the road,” he said.

Mr. Briones said that Ross School officials were originally considering creating a nine-lot subdivision but decided against that plan in order to preserve more open space.

“We’ve been going back and forth on how it should be laid out,” Mr. Bregman said about the planning process. “The board had concerns, the school had concerns, and it wound up being the plan it is now,”

Mr. Briones added that Ross School officials were also deliberating how to handle overflow parking during special events at the campus. Officials at the private school decided to allot less than 1 acre of open space to excess parking, he said, emphasizing that the area will not be a proper paved parking lot, only a spare grassy field. That 1 acre of land is not included in the 11-acre agricultural reserve, he said.

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