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Jul 20, 2016 2:41 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Alec Baldwin, Local Environmentalists Petition For Pine Barrens Commission To Review 'The Hills'

Alec Baldwin speaks at a press conference in Riverhead on Wednesday afternoon encouraging the New York State Pine Barrens Commission to review The Hills propsal.  DANA SHAW
Jul 26, 2016 4:05 PM

The State Pine Barrens Commission is still waiting to review a proposed luxury golf resort community in East Quogue until the draft environmental impact statement is accepted by Southampton Town—despite a petition asking for it to be examined sooner.

Actor Alec Baldwin, of Amagansett, stood by local environmentalists Richard Amper, executive director of Long Island Pine Barrens Society, Robert DeLuca, president of Group for the East End, and Andrea Spilka, president of the Southampton Town Civic Coalition, during a press conference last week pushing a petition that asks the commission to start reviewing the controversial project, called “The Hills at Southampton,” before the draft environmental impact statement, or DEIS, is accepted by the town.

Standing inside the Dark Horse Restaurant on East Main Street in Riverhead on July 20, the environmentalists spoke to a crowd of about 140 people, arguing that the commission should start reviewing the application right away so its concerns, regulations and policies can be addressed in the developer’s DEIS. Discovery Land Company, the Arizona-based developer, is currently working on its third version of the document—the first two drafts were both deemed incomplete by the town.

The proposal calls for 118 homes—95 single-family homes, 13 clubhouse cabins and 10 clubhouse condominiums—and an 18-hole golf course to be built on 168 acres along Spinney Road in East Quogue. If the Southampton Town Board approves it, the project would involve a zoning mechanism called a planned development district, or PDD, that allows more intensive development in exchange for community benefits.

John Pavacic, executive director of Central Pine Barrens Joint Planning and Policy Commission, said Monday that the commission will review the DEIS but not until after the town accepts the document.

“The commission will be reviewing the application,” said Mr. Pavacic, noting that the commission is an involved agency for the project. “The town is the lead agency; the lead determines whether the DEIS is complete. Once the town officially accepts the document as complete for public review, it’s then distributed to the involved agencies.”

The petition, which was signed by 120 people, included a letter penned directly to Carrie Meek Gallagher, chairwoman of the commission. Mr. Amper presented Ms. Gallagher and the rest of the five-member board with the petition at the monthly Pine Barrens Commission meeting, which was held in Riverhead a little more than an hour after last week’s press conference ended.

Southampton Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman also sits on the commission, along with Suffolk County Executive Steven Bellone, Brookhaven Town Supervisor Edward Romaine and Riverhead Town Supervisor Sean Walter.

Mr. Amper said that Ms. Gallagher addressed the petition during last week’s meeting, noting that the commission has already asserted jurisdiction over the project and would discuss getting the application from the developer sooner. No other discussion related to The Hills occurred at the meeting, Mr. Amper added.

Ms. Gallagher declined to comment on the petition when reached this week, deferring all questions to Mr. Pavacic.

The petition urges the commission to begin its review now, pointing to the project’s potential threat to the Pine Barrens.

“The longer the commission waits, the less they will have to say about protecting the Pine Barrens and the vital freshwater supply that lies beneath the property,” the petition reads in part.

Alec Baldwin, who voiced his opposition to The Hills earlier this year when he recorded a public service announcement commercial, echoed the sentiment of the petition by pushing for the commission to start reviewing the project right away.

“We’re turning to the Central Pine Barrens Joint Planning and Policy Commission—a non-partisan body created by the state law to protect Long Island’s premier ecosystem and the water that lies beneath the barrens,” Mr. Baldwin said. “We’re asking them to require Discovery Land to submit their proposed project for legally required review by the Pine Barrens Commission without further delay.”

Mr. Baldwin’s speech was followed by a long applause and the audience raising “Save Our Water Save Our Pine Barrens” signs.

Mr. DeLuca and Ms. Spilka stressed during the press conference that it is important to have the Pine Barrens Commission’s input because of its expertise in protecting the environment.

“Whether we like the project or we don’t like the project, let’s give the commission the earliest and the most comprehensive review of the biggest project ever proposed in the Pine Barrens,” Mr. DeLuca said.

“By signing this petition you are letting [the commission] know that you care about this issue and that you are concerned about it,” Ms. Spilka added.

Others who signed the petition after the conference agreed.

“We need to have reverence for our natural resources,” Janice Vandyne of Riverhead said. “To give up something natural, not made by the hands of man, for us to play? That’s not right.”

Justine Diianni of Hampton Bays added that she attended the conference and signed the petition because she does not want to see another development built that has the potential to damage the quality of local water.

“It’s already polluted,” Ms. Diianni said, referring to local waterways. “We just don’t need any more nitrogen unloading.”

Ms. Spilka, who lives in Eastport, said locals need to continue pushing for the application to be reviewed by the Pine Barrens Commission because potential pollution from the development would not be restricted to the hamlet of East Quogue.

“Water itself doesn’t know geographic boundaries,” Ms. Spilka said. “You all drink the same water. We’re all affected by headlines like some of these: ‘More Beaches Shut Due To Bacteria,’ ‘Expert: Brown Tide Back In Bays,’ ‘Erosion Wrecks Beach Campsites’ … Frankly, we need your help and your support. We need people to come out, to go to events to go like this, to put letters to the editors in the papers, to show up at Town Board meetings when we need you.”

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Didn't know Alec moved to southampton town, mind your own business....
By golfer (7), Southampton on Jul 20, 16 6:04 PM
The Baldwins are life long residents of Long Island and have every right to be concerned about the water quality - this is not just about Southampton, all of LI uses the SAME water supply!
By Taz (283), East Quogue on Jul 21, 16 11:51 AM
2 members liked this comment
Love it!
Hey golfer htf do they jam all that into 118 acres bud ??
By dave h (176), calverton on Jul 20, 16 7:01 PM
They might use the slivers of "PROTECTED" land in between their fairways???

Who is going to stand guard to watch them if this is passed? The developer?

I believe all of Discoverys other golf courses are spread over much, much more acreage. Private golf courses in Southampton Town - and there are many, are built on 185 to 238 acres.

Say goodbye to those slivers!
By sag2harbor (117), sag harbor on Jul 20, 16 9:43 PM
This is only 118 acres for golf, condos, psrking, roads, vlubhouse and condos
By dave h (176), calverton on Jul 21, 16 7:14 AM
Come on! You mean to tell me that the invitation they put out on social media for anyone to "come have a free lunch with Alec Baldwin" only drew in 100 people? His popularity must be slipping....
By A dose of reality (7), Southampton on Jul 21, 16 7:26 AM
I was there and the number was around 200. Another example of skewed reporting. Maybe the reporter should have counted how many people signed the petition that was later brought to the Pine Barrens Commision meeting at 2pm. You won't be laughing when brown water comes out of your tap. This is not a joking matter.
By Taz (283), East Quogue on Jul 21, 16 11:55 AM
2 members liked this comment
Taxes are needed for east Quogue school, if this doesn't get built, the school will be in austerity forever, programs will be cut and more great teachers will loose their jobs. Need to figure a way to help kids get a great education. Cuomo is not helping at all, the homes built at hills generate a tremendous amount of tax revenue without adding kids to school. We are talking about a golf club we are talking about the benefit for the school.
By golfer (7), Southampton on Jul 21, 16 10:39 AM
You can do better...this is pretty weak trolling.

By adlkjd923ilifmac.aladfksdurwp (399), southampton on Jul 21, 16 11:13 AM
You are sadly misinformed. Most supporters are local businesses who think they will profit from the develpment. Follow the $$$. You are all very shortsighted.
By Taz (283), East Quogue on Jul 21, 16 11:58 AM
1 member liked this comment
Maybe the East Quogue school should get rid of a few "administrators" and spend the $$$ directly on education and support programs.


By sag2harbor (117), sag harbor on Jul 21, 16 4:04 PM
The school is getting $1,200,000 in PILOT (payments in lieu of taxes) funds that will disappear if this is developed. No municipality ever raised more in taxes than it cost in services by adding development. Just look west. The promise of taxes and no kids is just another fraud.

And, in the end, is the risk of poisoning the drinking water and the bays worth it?
By CleanWater (116), East Quogue on Jul 21, 16 4:32 PM
1 member liked this comment
Check your "facts"
sag2harbor - East Quogue currently has ONE full time and ONE part-time administrator. Bare bones.
CleanWater - The TAXPAYERS of EQ are receiving $1,200,000 in tax relief in the form of PILOTs which is for land already preserved in EQ. The Hills has ZERO impact on that tax relief.
By A dose of reality (7), Southampton on Jul 21, 16 6:48 PM
So then you would agree that if the Hills is preserved there is a likely benefit to the school in that we are GUARANTEED no additional students, there will be no additional cost to taxpayers for services to the development, and that PILOT funds will likely go up.
By CleanWater (116), East Quogue on Jul 24, 16 5:17 PM
PILOT funds would likely go up slightly, but wouldn't come close to what the decrease in taxes would be if that land is developed in the exact way the Town's own study said it should be. Also, PILOT funds are not guaranteed.
By A dose of reality (7), Southampton on Jul 27, 16 7:27 AM
Can anyone take this knucklehead seriously?
By SHPredatorDept (72), Southampton on Jul 21, 16 11:39 AM
Does golfer think he will ever get to play on this PRIVATE golf course? Check out the position of the developer about allowing non-members to play. Maybe at an annual charity event? Unless golfer is plannig to become a member of the Hills. Then he can spend all of his extra $ on bottled water. He'll need it.
By Taz (283), East Quogue on Jul 21, 16 12:02 PM
Whatever happened to private property? Should California be respected to pressure New York to do what they think is correct with our property? Should Nassau residents be respected to pressure Suffolk County to choose what is done with our property? Should Southampton listen to East Hampton? "The Baldwins are life long residents of Long Island." So what! Since when is perceived moral superiority a prerequisite for petitions. Yes, Baldwin has every right to voice his support for this petition, but ...more
By Southampton Patrick (6), Southampton on Jul 21, 16 2:51 PM
Because Long Island is one of two (2) places in the Country that sits atop their sole source aquifer.

Because all Suffolk and Nassau residents drink water from the aquifers below us

Because all development on our island impacts these aquifers

Because the property is in the Central Pine Barrens, including parcels that are in the Core of the Pine Barrens that are protected by State Legislation and that have been purchased and protected through State, County and Town funds.

Because ...more
By Nature (2952), Southampton on Jul 21, 16 3:09 PM
Nature -
Very well said.

Thank you.
By sag2harbor (117), sag harbor on Jul 21, 16 4:31 PM
4 members liked this comment
Glad I got the dialogue going....I can play any course just like all of you, it's not about the Golf, it's about the school. Wake up Taz, when your taxes keep growing and the school is loosing better teachers and programs, it will become another Hampton Bays. Regardless of the Pilot program, you will pierce the cap just to remain competitive, if it weren't for the great teachers your kids would suffer, they are at a break even now, will only get worse.
By golfer (7), Southampton on Jul 21, 16 5:00 PM
At this moment - East Quogue school has about 30 less students than it's built to handle. It's not near being over crowded.

And, when did you decide to trade polluted water for a slower rise in taxes?

A bit short sighted, yes!
By FiddlerCrab (90), Westhampton Beach on Jul 21, 16 6:24 PM
3 members liked this comment
Build a private golf course to save s school. . .golfer c'mon now. . If i stop laughing i might start crying.. logical fallacy as much a lie as it is stupidity ... build a wind farm to air condition your club house
If you can play anywhere you want .. har har
By dave h (176), calverton on Jul 21, 16 10:06 PM
... there is no truth to the statement that the development of this project will positively impact the financial state of the EQ school. School funding issues cant be resolved by building this monstrosity over our water supply, in the Pine Barrens. Nor can school funding issues be resolved in Southampton Town Hall. To think this is possible, to think that the Town Board has absolutely anything to do with school funding relief is incorrect. Tax relief comes from Albany in the form of constitutionally ...more
By William Rodney (461), southampton on Jul 22, 16 10:27 AM
4 members liked this comment
They could accept the offer from the Town Board.

They could accept that this is a different Town Board (from the one that invited them to apply for a ZONE change).

They could push their luck and end up without a MASSIVE ZONE CHANGE and without a massive gilt from the CPF.

They might not be as smart as they used to appear to be?
By sag2harbor (117), sag harbor on Jul 22, 16 6:20 PM
They could accept the offer from the Town Board.

They could accept that this is a different Town Board (from the one that invited them to apply for a ZONE change).

They could push their luck and end up without a MASSIVE ZONE CHANGE and without a massive gilt from the CPF.

They might not be as smart as they used to appear to be?

They might not be as smart as they looked - when Anna was helping them!!!
By sag2harbor (117), sag harbor on Jul 22, 16 6:22 PM
1 member liked this comment
Preserve It

The League of Women Voters of the Hamptons has been studying The Hills at Southampton planned development district with interest.

Initially, the LWVH Natural Resources Committee agreed to recommend that the Town Board reject the PDD because of potential environmental concerns. Now that the Town Board has recommended that Community Preservation Fund monies be used to purchase and preserve the land, we applaud them for this decision [“Town Makes Bid For Land,” ...more
By FiddlerCrab (90), Westhampton Beach on Jul 24, 16 7:29 AM
2 members liked this comment
Thank you for adding another voice of sanity to this discussion. Town Board members: please use your common sense and listen to the scientific facts. They speak volumes!
By Taz (283), East Quogue on Jul 24, 16 10:07 AM
3/2/14, 2:41 PM
Date: Feb 20, 2014; Section: Letters to the Editor; Page: A9
Fuzzy Math

Fuzzy Math
I recently attended a meeting at the East Quogue Elementary School regarding The Hills at Southampton project and was introduced to the people representing the resort complex proposed for our hamlet [“The Hills Have A Surprise,” February 13]. This resort will minimally include 118 single-family homes clustered on land that’s currently zoned for five- acre homes. ...more
By sag2harbor (117), sag harbor on Jul 27, 16 10:07 PM
1 member liked this comment
Date: Feb 13, 2014; Section: Front Page; Page: A1
The Hills Have A Surprise

The Hills Have A Surprise
Developers now want to build 118 homes, golf course in East Quogue
BY KYLE CAMPBELL
The developers behind a proposal that would bring an 18-hole golf course and dozens of new luxury, second homes to East Quogue rolled out a new plan last Thursday night, February 6, which now calls for the construction 36 additional residential units in exchange for preserving a swath of ...more
By sag2harbor (117), sag harbor on Jul 27, 16 10:12 PM
1 member liked this comment
The Pine Barren Commission should weigh in on this important environmental issue. They are the experts who are charged with protecting our drinking water on the east End.. Not complicated. The Hills is the largest development project ever conceived for the Pine Barrens.
By citykid (11), east quogue on Aug 2, 16 9:52 PM
1 member liked this comment
Mr. Hissey and his attorney, Wayne Bruyn, did not want the Pine Barrens Commission "to weigh in". That environmental attorney, Carolyn Zenk interrupted the developer from accomplishing this.

Then again, they didn't want the Southampton Trustees to examine the project either...

What are they afraid of?
By sag2harbor (117), sag harbor on Aug 3, 16 3:16 PM
1 member liked this comment
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