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Jul 20, 2018 2:23 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

First ZBA Hearing On Proposed Luxury Golf Course Community In East Quogue Held On Thursday

The Southampton Town Zoning Board of Appeals held it's first public hearing on Thursday to discuss whether a  proposed 18-hole golf course in East Quogue is a recreational amenity to a 118-unit housing community. VALERIE GORDON
Jul 24, 2018 4:01 PM

The first of what is expected to be several public hearings on a proposed 118-unit residential golf course community in East Quogue brought out a crowd at the Southampton Town Zoning Board of Appeals meeting on Thursday, July 19.

The purpose of the nearly three-hour meeting, which attracted dozens of residents from East Quogue and elsewhere in town, was to attempt to answer a question: Does the proposed 18-hole golf course constitute a recreational amenity to residential housing planned at the site, or is it a second principal use?

That question was referred to the ZBA by the Planning Board earlier this month, after Chief Building Inspector Michael Benincasa, who was originally assigned to make a determination on the issue in May, recused himself, citing his public support for the developer’s previous application, The Hills at Southampton, at a hearing.

The Hills fell one vote short of the supermajority needed for the developers, Discovery Land Company of Arizona, to be granted a special change of zone called a planned development district, or PDD, that would have allowed the 118 luxury housing units and an 18-hole golf course on nearly 600 acres off Spinney Road in East Quogue.

Now, Discovery Land is insisting that it can build its development, including the golf course, without securing a change of zone. The company points to a little-used portion of the town code—a planned residential district, or PRD—that permits the addition of certain recreational amenities, such as tennis courts, in residential neighborhoods. Discovery Land maintains that a golf course used only by the development’s residents is comparable and permitted by current zoning.

“It’s no different from a swimming pool or tennis court,” argued Steven Barshov, an attorney with Sive, Paget & Riesel P.C. of New York City, who is representing the developer.

If it is ultimately determined 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 has already been given the green light to move forward with the alternative, if desired, as part of a pre-application approval by the Planning Board, according to that board’s chairman, Dennis Finnerty.

All of the land owned by the development company is 5-acre zoning, the most restrictive in the town.

On Thursday, Wayne Bruyn, an attorney with Southampton-based O’Shea Marcincuk & Bruyn LLP, who also is representing Discovery Land, pointed to case law in state courts, which he said requires the ZBA to vote in favor of the landowner if there is “any ambiguity” in whether the golf course is an acceptable recreational amenity.

New York State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr. said on Friday that the basic theory behind the case law, which he said has evolved through court decisions over the years, is that zoning regulations are in derogation of property owners’ common law rights, “so any vagueness is to be construed in favor of the property owner.”

Mr. Bruyn also argued that, under the town’s zoning code, a golf course is neither specifically listed, nor is it specifically prohibited, as a recreational use. “Nothing prohibits a golf course as an accessory use,” he said, pointing to the code. “Customary accessory uses are allowed unless expressly prohibited.”

And while Principal Planner Anthony Trezza, the town’s lead planner on the application, has previously said that an 18-hole golf course has never been built in the town as a recreational amenity, small private courses with as many as nine holes have.

Additionally, Charles Voorhis, managing partner of Nelson, Pope & Voorhis in Melville, one of the environmental scientists who helped prepare the draft environmental impact statement for the applicant, cited approximately 3,200 examples of golf course communities built across the country. “The numbers are staggering,” he said.

Mr. Barshov added that golf courses have acted to enhance residential communities across the United States for decades. “This is not something that takes a rocket scientist to figure out—it is obvious and it is common,” he said.

In a report on the pre-application, the Southampton Town Planning Board confirmed that “neither the town’s zoning code nor the residence districts table of use regulations lists every permitted accessory use, building or structure allowed in a [5-acre residential zone], nor does the town code readily identify a golf course.”

In the meantime, residents remain divided on the uses allowed under the town code and, on Thursday, offered a mix of passionate opinions of the latest proposal.

Project opponents, such as local environmental attorney Carolyn Zenk of Hampton Bays, have maintained that the developer’s proposed plan would set a “frightening precedent” should the ZBA rule in favor of the golf course. “Any homeowner could put a golf course in their backyard,” she said.

Andrea Spilka, president of the Southampton Town Civic Coalition, agreed: “To rule that an 18-hole golf course is merely a recreational amenity would set a very frightening precedent throughout the town—put a private gun club, a drag strip, a petting zoo, a ski slope to be allowed in a PRD.”

Ms. Zenk added that according to the 5-acre zoning code, the only form of golf allowed, mini golf, requires a special exception and is limited to 1 acre. The proposed golf course would sit on 91 acres of the nearly 600-acre parcel.

She argued that the developers knew that they needed to secure the special zoning change in order to proceed with building the 18-hole golf course, otherwise they wouldn’t have gone through four years of back and forth with the Town Board in a failed attempt to obtain the PDD.

“It’s an end run around a four-year process before the Town Board,” Ms. Zenk said of the PRD proposal.

She also pointed to Chapter 330 of the Town Code, which reads: “all unlisted uses are prohibited.” The four listed uses include residence uses, residential community facilities, general community facilities, business uses, industrial uses, and accessory uses. However, there is no set list that accompanies the town code that specifically lists every permitted accessory use.

Robert DeLuca, president of Group for the East End, and a vocal opponent of the project, believes the case is cut-and-dried, as does Dick Amper, executive director of the Long Island Pine Barrens Society. Both argued on Thursday that the only way to do mixed-use development is through a PDD.

“Honestly, I cannot believe that if you could find examples of something like this somewhere on the planet that that would supersede your zoning,” Mr. DeLuca said to the ZBA. “You don’t get something because it’s valuable—you get it because it’s allowed.”

While most of the several dozen community members attended the meeting to speak out in opposition, there were a select few, including Brian Babcock and David Celi of East Quogue, who stood in support of the project, noting that the large, seasonal homes would generate new tax revenue, reducing the taxes of others in the community.

Mr. Celi, a member of the East Quogue Citizens Advisory Committee, noted that the committee was largely in favor of the project. “They own the property, they have property rights,” he said. “They should be able to do what they want with it.”

Laurence Oxman of Remsenburg also spoke in support of the golf course, noting that he believes it should be considered as a recreational amenity. “It’s really no different than croquet,” he said.

To conclude the meeting, ZBA Chairman Adam Grossman said that the board would allow community members to submit written submissions regarding the project up until 3 p.m. on August 24.

“We’re going to carefully consider all of the points that have been made,” he said.

The next public hearing is scheduled for 7 p.m. on September 6 at Town Hall.

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"There will be golf. Oh, there will be golf." - Mark Hissey
By Fore1gnBornHBgrown (6413), HAMPTON BAYS on Jul 20, 18 2:49 PM
2 members liked this comment
"Project opponents, such as local environmental attorney Carolyn Zenk of Hampton Bays, have maintained that the developer’s proposed plan would set a “frightening precedent” should the ZBA rule in favor of the golf course. “Any homeowner could put a golf course in their backyard,” she said."

I'm thinking about putting in a 1-hole, Par 2 on my half acre lot. Memberships will start at $100k/year.
By Pacman (243), Southampton on Jul 20, 18 3:30 PM
I’m putting a 1 hole par 2 in my backyard as well. But I’ll only charge 99k.

By Draggerman (892), Southampton on Jul 20, 18 11:24 PM
Google "piggy-back joke"
By Pacman (243), Southampton on Jul 23, 18 10:55 AM
Grow up people it's just a golf course it's not the end of the world.
By widow gavits (219), sag harbor on Jul 20, 18 5:19 PM
1 member liked this comment
But, it was the end of a race track.
By Mr. Z (11267), North Sea on Jul 23, 18 10:35 PM
They took a race course, closed it for a golf course. The race track had what problem, being there before all the 212 people moved and didn't want the noise. Now, no noise and more fertilizers and other chemicals.
NOT IN MY BACK YARD........
By knitter (1684), Southampton on Jul 20, 18 5:57 PM
2 members liked this comment
Really Larry, "no different that croquet"? PLEEEEASE!
If that's your best argument in support of this wrong headed proposal maybe you should just sit and watch at the next meeting.
By fritzdaddy (34), southampton on Jul 21, 18 8:24 AM
2 members liked this comment
The question and ONLY question before the ZBA is: Is a golf course an accessory use? Chairperson Grossman made it quite clear that all comments should be directed to that issue alone, not if someone liked or disliked the proposed PRD subdivision. My comments were directed to that issue alone. I believe that golf is an accessory use to the residential use. The applicant's PRD subdivision is a permitted use in the CR200 zoning district - Town Code 330-10(A)(6). Accessory Uses are a permitted ...more
By loxman (20), Remsenburg on Jul 21, 18 11:55 AM
A golf course is not a accessory if it's a club. craziness
By chief1 (2695), southampton on Jul 21, 18 9:49 AM
1 member liked this comment
Dave Sealey is not a member of the East Quogue Citizens Advisory Committee, members of which are appointed by the Town Board. Maybe he's on the EQ Village exploratory committee which is not an official Southampton committee, but a group of EQ residents who want to incorporate EQ so that they control zoning decisions.....Golf, here we come. Another end run attempt by DLC and supporters to get the golf course. At the expense of EQ citizens. Who will pay legal fees when zoning decisions made by this ...more
By Taz (615), East Quogue on Jul 21, 18 10:52 AM
Dave Celi, the person who made that comment at the ZBA public hearing IS a member of the East Quogue Citizens Advisory Committee. He WAS appointed by the Town. Check out http://www.southamptontownny.gov/433/East-Quogue-CAC for the entire list of EQ CAC members.
By loxman (20), Remsenburg on Jul 21, 18 12:01 PM
2 members liked this comment
The article quotes Mr. Sealey and states that he is a EQ CAC member. The Press should get its facts straight or at least, if there is no Mr. Sealey, then get the spelling correct if it was in fact Mr. Celi, who is a member of the CAC.
By Taz (615), East Quogue on Jul 21, 18 1:30 PM
Am i wrong or are there already water issues in the srea? Adding another 100 acres of chemicals just should not make sense to anyone, in the neighborhood or not.btw this is just common sense not politics
By joeg (26), Hampton Bays on Jul 21, 18 12:53 PM
The EQ CAC has 15 members and Mr. Celi has no authority to speak for the entire committee, which is in fact split on this issue. If he "noted that the committee was largely in favor of the project" he mis spoke.
By Taz (615), East Quogue on Jul 21, 18 1:42 PM
1 member liked this comment
As an East Quogue resident, I was at the CAC meeting the night of the vote. The CAC voted 7-4 in FAVOR of the project. Mr.Celi is 100% correct, that is EXACTLY what happened. However, the chairperson did not like the outcome of the vote so she tried to discredit the letter sent to the zoning board. She did not dispute the voting results, because she couldn't. She only stated that the letter was sent without her "authority". Quite a difference.
By EQmom (15), East Quogue on Jul 21, 18 8:48 PM
2 members liked this comment
Disingenuous,on 7/19, to refer to a 4 month old vote of 7 for, 4 against and 2 not present - taken on 3/14/18 from a committee of 13 as the current position of a committee of 15 which has not discussed the PRD since. The vote taken on 3/14/18 was in response to a request from the SH Planning Board which at the time was reviewing the PRD. A letter stating those details was sent to the Planning Board by the CAC co-chairs at that time.
By Taz (615), East Quogue on Jul 22, 18 10:14 AM
Disingenuous,on 7/19, to refer to a 4 month old vote of 7 for, 4 against and 2 not present - taken on 3/14/18 from a committee of 13 as the current position of a committee of 15 which has not discussed the PRD since. The vote taken on 3/14/18 was in response to a request from the SH Planning Board which at the time was reviewing the PRD. A letter stating those details was sent to the Planning Board by the CAC co-chairs at that time.
By Taz (615), East Quogue on Jul 22, 18 10:47 AM
Victoria Greenbaum, is it only disingenuous to refer to it because you were 1 of the 4?
By cmac (175), East Quogue on Jul 22, 18 2:17 PM
OK, the ZBA addressing the narrow question of whether an 18-hole golf course is a customary and accessory recreational use for a residential development, or whether it instead constitutes a prohibited second principal use.

Discovery attorney Steven Barshov says an 18-hole golf course is "no different than a swimming pool or tennis court." Realtor Larry Oxman says "It's really no different than croquet."

Really, fellas? Next you'll be saying it's no different from reading a ...more
By Turkey Bridge (1940), Quiogue on Jul 22, 18 11:43 AM
1 member liked this comment
Reading a book on your lawn is not an accessory use. Reading a book in your gazebo on your lawn is reading a book in your accessory use structure - which is permitted.
By loxman (20), Remsenburg on Jul 22, 18 2:50 PM
1 member liked this comment
At some point, cooler heads will prevail. Let's hope they are the ZBA. All this procrastinating is only fodder for DLC's lawsuit. Take a strong stand and END THIS NOW! Please!
By Taz (615), East Quogue on Jul 22, 18 11:53 AM
1 member liked this comment
Victoria you know what’s truly disingenuous. When 2 CO-chairs try to stop a vote because they know that there position is a losing one. Remember the comment “ you all are not here long enough to have a say on these matters” Also disingenuous is after the vote they ignore the vote and the letter that the rest of the body approved and asked to be submitted. Also disingenuous is submitting a letter the CO-chairs felt was more appropriate and that the body never saw. Also disingenuous ...more
By davidcHB (11), southampton on Jul 22, 18 2:45 PM
3 members liked this comment
Victoria you know what’s truly disingenuous. When 2 CO-chairs try to stop a vote because they know that there position is a losing one. Remember the comment “ you all are not here long enough to have a say on these matters” Also disingenuous is after the vote they ignore the vote and the letter that the rest of the body approved and asked to be submitted. Also disingenuous is submitting a letter the CO-chairs felt was more appropriate and that the body never saw. Also disingenuous ...more
By davidcHB (11), southampton on Jul 22, 18 2:45 PM
4 members liked this comment
You know what's also disingenuous?
- complaining that the EQ CAC does not speak for the community, but then petitioning to join the EQ CAC and then saying that the voice of the CAC matters once you are a part of it.
- Thinking that the process of CAC statements and votes actually represent what the people of EQ feel/think/want.
By adlkjd923ilifmac.aladfksdurwp (662), southampton on Jul 24, 18 10:13 AM
2 members liked this comment
What's disingenuous and extremely unethical is claiming you have no ties to DL when most of EQ knows your company, Mr. Celi, has been promised the contract to do all electrical work for whatever DL decides to build. Yet you insist you have no ties or special interest.
By 2329702 (35), East Quogue on Jul 26, 18 8:44 AM
So true...i loved seeing Celi ingratiate himself to the DLC folks in goldberg's bagels one morning - the guy is in it for himself, not EQ.
By adlkjd923ilifmac.aladfksdurwp (662), southampton on Jul 26, 18 10:17 AM
1 member liked this comment
Is anything Taz said not true?
By Taz (615), East Quogue on Jul 23, 18 9:55 AM
1 member liked this comment
Did you forget to switch accounts?
By Pacman (243), Southampton on Jul 23, 18 4:13 PM
I thought Taz was speaking like Tarzan...
By loxman (20), Remsenburg on Jul 23, 18 8:52 PM
1 member liked this comment
Hope Pacman's comment was a shot at fools...
By Mr. Z (11267), North Sea on Jul 23, 18 10:37 PM
That's so funny. I wonder who Taz's sock-puppet is?
By Fore1gnBornHBgrown (6413), HAMPTON BAYS on Jul 25, 18 9:44 AM
Attacks, but no comments on truthfulness?????
By Taz (615), East Quogue on Jul 24, 18 8:56 AM
George likes his chicken spicy.
By Pacman (243), Southampton on Jul 24, 18 10:12 AM
Will you first address why your last comment was in the third-person?

It sure sounded like you failed to switch accounts...
By Fore1gnBornHBgrown (6413), HAMPTON BAYS on Jul 25, 18 11:28 AM
Attacks are a poor substitute for the truth. I stand corrected. I should have said "Is anything I said not true?" So now answer the question.
By Taz (615), East Quogue on Jul 25, 18 1:32 PM
Sure you should have, but why didn't you?

I think it's because you intended to comment under another username with the purpose of expressing third-party support of your post.

Do I have proof that other accounts here are your sock-puppets? Of course not! But your curious third-person response is enough for me.
By Fore1gnBornHBgrown (6413), HAMPTON BAYS on Jul 25, 18 1:48 PM
George is getting upset.
By Pacman (243), Southampton on Jul 25, 18 2:37 PM
1 member liked this comment
I can assure you that I post here as only one person. Not like some others here. I guess it troubles you that others agree with me from time to time?
By Taz (615), East Quogue on Jul 25, 18 3:18 PM
Agreement doesn't bother me at all, it's signs of sock-puppetry that set off alarms, and you never did engage with the question of why you mentioned yourself in the third person.
By Fore1gnBornHBgrown (6413), HAMPTON BAYS on Jul 25, 18 6:20 PM
I'm VOS, SlimeAlive, and Taz
By adlkjd923ilifmac.aladfksdurwp (662), southampton on Jul 25, 18 6:07 PM
I think 27 East should take action in determining if any posters here use more than one name. The honesty behind this conversation is at risk. Then we'll see who is abusing this blog.
By Taz (615), East Quogue on Jul 26, 18 9:53 AM
I think they could easily find out whether more than one account is posting from the same device, but they'd probably be less capable of conclusively identifying whether it was the same user.

There are plenty of reasonable explanations for multiple log-ins such as a family sharing a computer, or allowing a guest to use your home PC, which would render any effort by 27 East to cull the herd an exercise in futility.

What there is little explanation for is the awkward use of third-person ...more
By Fore1gnBornHBgrown (6413), HAMPTON BAYS on Jul 26, 18 10:07 AM
the great search for Taz's alternate account is dumber than the pro/anti trump comments under every political article on this site.
Fore1gn born is one of our top concern trolls - worked up as ever.
By adlkjd923ilifmac.aladfksdurwp (662), southampton on Jul 26, 18 10:15 AM
2 members liked this comment
Who is searching? I presented my argument and moved on; I think Taz is using a sock-puppet because of his awkward third-person comment but there is no way to conclusively determine that independently.

In any event, "whether you love me or hate me, both are in my favor."
By Fore1gnBornHBgrown (6413), HAMPTON BAYS on Jul 26, 18 10:27 AM
I am developing an algorithm that will search all 450+ of Taz's posts to examine who liked them. A separate function will examine the content of all replies for support and then cross reference all the results to determine which accounts are the prime suspects.
By Pacman (243), Southampton on Jul 26, 18 4:52 PM
1 member liked this comment
Again, was anything I said about the CAC issue not true? Still waiting for an answer. Typical redirection of the topic when the answer isn't what you want to admit. Get a life and stick to the question about my truthfulness.
By Taz (615), East Quogue on Jul 27, 18 11:03 AM
Fore1gnBornHBgrown would rather continue to ask WHY you spoke about yourself in the third person, since it hasn't been explained.
By Fore1gnBornHBgrown (6413), HAMPTON BAYS on Jul 27, 18 11:06 AM
So you continue to deflect and not answer the question. Yes, I am one person as I explained previously and perhaps I referred to myself as Taz because I was being attacked by those attempting to find out my real name. What's yours, BTW? Now you can answer my question.
By Taz (615), East Quogue on Jul 27, 18 11:17 AM
"Perhaps" that's your reason? What a strange explanation.

I don't buy it, nor do I feel compelled to answer your question.
By Fore1gnBornHBgrown (6413), HAMPTON BAYS on Jul 27, 18 11:20 AM
BTW, my opinions are unusually atypical: I am an NRA member, a pro Israel non-Jew with 12 years of private Catholic schooling, a lifelong moderate registered democrat and environmentalist who voted for and support fully OUR President Donald J. Trump - the only guy with the guts to try to straighten out Washington DC which at this point is run by a "Uniparty" - those only interested in power and money, Everything our politicians do is with their next campaign in mind - NOT those they represent. ...more
By Taz (615), East Quogue on Jul 27, 18 11:13 AM
2 members liked this comment
Irony is thinking the billionaire salesman cares about you because he said so.
By Fore1gnBornHBgrown (6413), HAMPTON BAYS on Jul 27, 18 11:25 AM
1 member liked this comment
You, sir/ma'am are a waste of my time. A study of my posts will reveal that many for me on some issues are virulently against me on others. So how can they all be me? Logic eludes you.
By Taz (615), East Quogue on Jul 27, 18 11:35 AM
Did I say you are everyone, or did I say you are at least one other person?
By Fore1gnBornHBgrown (6413), HAMPTON BAYS on Jul 27, 18 11:37 AM
Find another poster to harass. I'm done.
By Taz (615), East Quogue on Jul 27, 18 11:40 AM
Truthfully, letting users make up their own minds on why you spoke about yourself in the third person is the only card you have to play.

Excessive protests in the absence of a rational and decisive explanation will just project insecurity and lead readers to infer dishonesty.
By Fore1gnBornHBgrown (6413), HAMPTON BAYS on Jul 27, 18 11:49 AM
Can't decide who is more annoying, SlimeAlive or Fore1gnBorn, it's really a tossup. Maybe they're actually the same person.
By adlkjd923ilifmac.aladfksdurwp (662), southampton on Jul 27, 18 3:11 PM
As I say whenever I'm accused of having multiple accounts: I'm everyone except you, alphabet soup.
By Fore1gnBornHBgrown (6413), HAMPTON BAYS on Jul 27, 18 3:16 PM
Fore is s good guy, slime good for nothing. But that’s my opinion
By Fred s (2455), Southampton on Jul 27, 18 3:17 PM
bay street, sag harbor,