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Jul 6, 2018 11:19 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Southampton ZBA To Make Decision On Golf Course In East Quogue

The 600-acre property in East Quogue. FILE PHOTO
Jul 10, 2018 1:10 PM

The Southampton Town Zoning Board of Appeals will play a key part in determining the fate of a proposed luxury golf course housing development in East Quogue.

At a public hearing later this month, the seven-member board will discuss whether Arizona-based Discovery Land Company can build an 18-hole golf course as an accessory recreational use to an 118-unit housing development, pitched originally as “The Hills at Southampton.”

That question had been, until recently, handed off to Chief Building Inspector Michael Benincasa, who was assigned to make a determination on the project in May after principal planner Anthony Trezza said that the golf course was more of a zoning question than a planning one.

“That’s why it was sent to Mike Benincasa,” Mr. Trezza said.

However, when reached this week, Mr. Trezza noted that Mr. Benincasa has since recused himself from offering an opinion on the application.

Mr. Benincasa, an East Quogue resident, publicly supported The Hills project as a private citizen at a public hearing before the Town Board in 2016, citing the community benefits associated with the requested change of zone to a Planned Development District—which included student scholarships, Main Street improvements and the installation of a sewage treatment system.

Mr. Benincasa did not return multiple requests for comment this week. In his recusal letter, dated May 30, he wrote: “While I believe I can be fair and impartial, I am nevertheless uncomfortable participating.”

When the Town Board rejected the PDD—and, later, dropped the zoning tool from the town code—Discovery Land filed a subdivision application that includes the golf course as a recreational amenity, such as a tennis court. Discovery Land officials argue that a golf course, to be used only by the development’s residents, is a comparable amenity permitted under the 600-acre site’s current residential zoning, and thus can be granted as part of the planning process without special zoning.

The Planning Board unanimously approved Discovery Land’s pre-application on May 24—with one exception. Its members want an opinion on the issue of whether a golf course can be considered a recreational amenity under the town code, or if it constitutes a second principle use of the property, which would be counter to zoning rules. That question first went to Mr. Benincasa, and now is before the ZBA.

Planning Board Chairman Dennis Finnerty acknowledged that an 18-hole golf course has never been built in the town as a recreational amenity—although small private courses with as many as nine holes have.

Earlier this week, Mr. Finnerty said that “the referral was made because of the size and scale of the proposed golf course,” but on Thursday, July 5, he said that he suspected that Mr. Benincasa would ultimately recuse himself: “I had a feeling he was going to go that route.”

Now tasked with making the determination, the ZBA will hold several public hearings—the first of which is scheduled for July 19 at 7 p.m. at Town Hall—before offering a final opinion.

On Monday, ZBA Chairman Adam Grossman said the board could potentially render a decision on the golf course as early as Thursday, August 2, but he suspected the process would extend past that date. “We’re going to listen to what all have to say,” he said.

“I suspect that it will be well attended from both sides,” Mr. Trezza said of the upcoming hearings.

If the ZBA ultimately concludes that the golf course can’t be built under current zoning, the developer plans to build 137 residential units—including some workforce housing—with several amenities but no golf course as an alternate plan. The developer was given the green light to move forward with the alternative, if desired, as part of the pre-application approval, according to Mr. Finnerty.

However, “either application is going to have to go through quite a rigorous review,” he added.

Once a decision is made on whether the golf course constitutes a recreational amenity, the developers will need to submit an official application, reiterating the plan for the project, which will go to the Planning Board for review.

The Suffolk County Department of Health Services also would review the project, and the Central Pine Barrens Commission, since the property is within its jurisdiction. If approved, the developers would then submit a final application.

“It’s quite a process,” Mr. Finnerty said.

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Will it ever end? No decision in the hands of elected officials...just appointees. WRONG!!!
By Taz (437), East Quogue on Jul 6, 18 11:38 AM
It will end when a Supreme Court Judge rules on the application after an Article 78 Proceeding brought on by what ever side is unhappy with the final outcome.
By Damon.Hagan (32), East Quogue on Jul 6, 18 12:28 PM
ZBA--- Remove this application from your agenda--it's not too late.

This important decision should not rest with appointed people, only ELECTED officials, The Town Board has already ruled, denying The Hills project,

ENOUGH, ENOUGH !

ZBA-- STEP UP, AND DO THE RIGHT THING !!

REJECT DISCOVERY !
By HamptonClassic (62), Southampton on Jul 6, 18 6:23 PM
The majority of the Town Board voted for the Hills. They did not have a super majority. Discovery has the law on their side and they can develop their land as the ZBA will confirm. Unfortunately due to the shortsightedness of Lofstad and Bouvier, East Quogue will not get the community benefits that the original submission would have brought.
By A Great American (38), East Quogue on Jul 6, 18 11:48 PM
Contrary to what some might say, the majority of residents in East Quogue DO NOT WANT the golf course. Period.

We also don't want to incorporate as a village so Discovery Land can build their golf course.

The process for the application has run its course and in the end our duly elected officials have REJECTED the project. It's time for DL to stop subverting our democratic process with these end around maneuvers. Game over.

By fritzdaddy (24), southampton on Jul 7, 18 8:39 AM
I wish it were game over as fritzdaddy says, but it isn’t. Much as I oppose their project, Discovery Land is completelly within its rights to pursue this. The law allows it.

The law also provides for a lot of important questions to be decided by appointed officials. All federal judges, including those on the US Supreme Court, are appointed, not elected. Yes, they’re proposed by the elected president and confirmed by the elected senate, but that’s about the same as our ...more
By Turkey Bridge (1847), Quiogue on Jul 7, 18 11:27 AM
1 member liked this comment
The PDD law required a super majority vote of the Town Board. It failed. A simple majority (3 of 5) of current TB members are against the golf course, which is why DLC will do all in its power to keep the decision away from the TB. Soooo, the beat goes on. Those of us who live here and see that the golf course is not a good thing will persevere. We will never give in.
By Taz (437), East Quogue on Jul 7, 18 11:58 AM
"...see that the golf course is not a good thing."

You are certainly entitled to hold that as a personal opinion but such decisions' affecting entire communities, should not be based on unfounded opinions.

On what factual basis do you make such a claim? Show us the science, show us the economics, show us the sociology that supports your claim. None of those things were supported in the Town's assessment and findings. Please be specific.
By VOS (1104), WHB on Jul 9, 18 2:33 PM
1 member liked this comment
Still on the payroll I see. Siting a golf course over OUR aquifer is a disaster waiting to happen.
By bigfresh (3567), north sea on Jul 9, 18 5:37 PM
Like Atlantic, the Bridge and Sebonac? All monitored; all in compliance. No "disaster(s)" happening. Welcome to the 21st century!

Once again, if you or Taz or anyone else has something factual, rather than hyperbole, nonsense and scare stories, now would be the time to show it. Please be specific.
By VOS (1104), WHB on Jul 9, 18 10:45 PM
1 member liked this comment
Atlantic was built on farmland, the Bridge on a racetrack, Sebonack on the old Local 3 - International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers camp.

None of them seek to clear hundreds of acres of pine forest over the aquifer - as the proposed PRD development does.

Apples & oranges...
By FiddlerCrab (91), Westhampton Beach on Jul 10, 18 9:36 AM
The Suffolk County Water Authority has wells in the area of every golf course named above. The prior use of the land is immaterial to the golf course uses and each course, including the one proposed in East Quogue utilized, or will utilize, land that has been previously cleared.

Dealing with facts is important. Where are the "facts' regarding the impending "disaster" in East Quogue, bigfresh? Why is following the comprehensive plan "not a good thing," Taz?
By VOS (1104), WHB on Jul 10, 18 3:20 PM
The Bridge is right on top of the Ronkonkoma moraine. Sebonack was basically a wetland. I’m not advocating for or against, just stating how they are situated.
By Fred s (357), Southampton on Jul 10, 18 1:33 PM
Why doesn't Mark Hissey post here anymore ? I miss his insults and the overuse of the word 'scintilla'.
Can't wait for him to run for Mayor of the village of east quogue.
By adlkjd923ilifmac.aladfksdurwp (524), southampton on Jul 10, 18 2:19 PM
1 member liked this comment
I sort of miss Mark Hissey here too, but he’s got VOS slinging it for him. Or maybe Mark Hissey is VOS, who knows?
By Turkey Bridge (1847), Quiogue on Jul 13, 18 10:23 AM
Grow up.
Jul 13, 18 3:18 PM appended by VOS
"BTW, VOS, you're posting pro-Hills about as much as Mark Hissey or Lion. What's your connection, if any? Mr. Hissey is open about his, and Lion still evades the question, refusing to deny it. How about you? A simple denial will be fine." Jun 11, 17 9:28 AM - Turkey Bridge After more than a year of multiple similar charges and multiple assurances that I have never had any connection with Discovery and would not know Hissey if I bumped into him, you continue to make the same lame charges. "A simple denial will be fine" - but only to a man of honor and integrity. TB has exhibited neither.
By VOS (1104), WHB on Jul 13, 18 3:18 PM
OK, fair enough, VOS, I forgot the exchange you just appended, but wait a minute -- was it really an exchange? You've put my comment in quotes, but not your own. Does that mean this is the first time you're denying it on record?

Either way, your statement that you wouldn't know Hissey if you "bumped into him" is suspect in my view. How can this be when the man has been pictured time and again in these 27east articles to which you pay such close attention and to which you attach so many ...more
By Turkey Bridge (1847), Quiogue on Jul 14, 18 9:56 AM
"A simple denial will be fine [unless I decide it's not]"
By Fore1gnBornHBgrown (3308), HAMPTON BAYS on Jul 14, 18 1:24 PM
1 member liked this comment
So which is it, TB? You have claimed many times I am somehow employed by Discovery. I have repeatedly denied that. You have continued to repeat such claims - in fact, I provided multiple quotes of yours with my denials a month or so ago in a rather long post that was censored by your friend, the editor.

Even now, you start with "fair enough" but quickly follow with "but wait a minute" and segue to "hard to believe at best."

Just admit it - your words that "a simple denial will ...more
By VOS (1104), WHB on Jul 14, 18 2:18 PM
So are you a volunteer working on behalf of DLC or maybe an intern?
IMO you're doing quite a bit of work for them so if you're not being paid by DLC you really ought to quit or request compensation.
By adlkjd923ilifmac.aladfksdurwp (524), southampton on Jul 14, 18 5:00 PM
Which is a pitiful reflection on today's society, alphabet man. Some of us actually do things for the betterment of our community without compensation. We don't need the quid pro quo but are more interested that those things that will be positive for the place we live are supported without any personal gain whatsoever.

It is unfortunate that the pay-as-you-go horde derailed the original PDD which would have been a windfall of opportunity for East Quogue and now continues to attempt to ...more
By VOS (1104), WHB on Jul 15, 18 2:49 AM
Boy, do you sound pious, VOS. And this after cherry-picking my comment to conjure up your own narrative. You're like a guy who takes a sandwich and just eats the bread, ignoring the meat and cheese inside, and then says that wasn't much of a sandwich.

You've completely ignored/sidestepped the substance of my post, which is how can you possibly say you don't know Mark Hissey and wouldn't recognize him when he's pictured on many of these 27east articles and has been a very obvious presence ...more
By Turkey Bridge (1847), Quiogue on Jul 15, 18 4:49 PM
Once again, for the slow learners out there and those who have been laying down with thieves and liars so long they believe all are like them - I do not know Mark Hissey. I have seen his picture in the past but I have no recollection of his appearance today. To the best of my knowledge I have never been in the same place as Mr. Hissey.

I have cherry picked nothing. I have quoted your words, TB, and shown that you are not a man of your word. I note you have not denied those are your ...more
By VOS (1104), WHB on Jul 15, 18 11:52 PM
Well i apologize then. How could i have known that out of all of the ways that one can volunteer to better a community that you had chosen to continuously promote the business interests of a for profit company with a dubious history as your way of doing your part? So noble.
By adlkjd923ilifmac.aladfksdurwp (524), southampton on Jul 17, 18 6:32 AM
This is a straw man. How would you know how VOS spends time?
By Fore1gnBornHBgrown (3308), HAMPTON BAYS on Jul 17, 18 6:37 AM
We spent 4 years debating the golf course, IMO it is not a good thing for EQ. Period.
By Taz (437), East Quogue on Jul 13, 18 10:31 AM