The owners of more than 400 acres in East Quogue are now looking to build a golf course and 82-lot residential development on their land, if they can secure a change of zone from the Southampton Town Board to allow their project, after attempts to preserve the property fell through.
Though its application is not official yet, the developer, East Quogue Partners LLC, is proposing that the town approve a planned development district, or PDD—a special overlay zoning designation that allows uses otherwise precluded by current zoning—for the project, dubbed The Hills at Southampton. In accordance with the town’s PDD guidelines, the Town Board scheduled a pre-application public hearing on the new development plans for Tuesday, August 27, at 6 p.m.
The proposal asks the Town Board to consider changing the zone on the property, which is actually eight separate parcels, from strictly residential to a Mixed-Use PDD, to allow for the construction of the golf course, a clubhouse and the housing units. Under current zoning, the property is tagged for residential development with minimum lot sizes of a half acre. The pre-application does not specify if the developers want to build a 9- or 18-hole golf course.
Attempts by Suffolk County and Southampton Town to jointly purchase the property fell through, according to County Legislator Jay Schneiderman.
The land proposed for the golf course and housing subdivision lies just north of Lewis Road, near the intersection with Old Country Road. Some of the property extends north of Sunrise Highway. The property encompasses a former sand mine and town planners in the past have suggested that the golf course and fewer houses would be a preferable use of the land as compared to the larger residential development.
The proposal for the golf course and cluster of homes around it has been around for more than three years as the developer has tried to find alternatives to its original plans for the property, which called for only an 82-lot residential subdivision.
The idea of a golf course was apparently suggested by town planners as a possible good economic use for the former sand mine property, since it is already highly disturbed and would not likely be land targeted for open space preservation by the town’s Community Preservation Fund. When first proposed in 2009, planners said the main concern with the idea of a golf course would be protection of groundwater supplies from fertilizer and herbicide use on a golf course. They noted, however, that a golf course development would have no impact on the East Quogue School District, a major objection by residents to the residential subdivision, and “brings a nice quality to East Quogue,” in the words of former town planner Jefferson Murphree.
A portion of the land falls in the Pine Barrens Core Preservation area, which bars any development, though most of it is in the “compatible growth” area, which allows for some restricted development.