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Jun 12, 2012 10:02 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Sand Land Decision Expected On June 21; Second Application Pushed Back

Jun 13, 2012 10:20 AM

The Southampton Town Zoning Board of Appeals is expected to rule on June 21 on the legality of a Bridgehampton sand and gravel business whose operations have drawn criticism from neighbors.

In the meantime, a decision on a separate application, seeking several setback variances, filed by the business—Wainscott Sand and Gravel, also known as the Sand Land Corporation—was pushed back last week, pending the June 21 decision.

The ZBA is expected to decide whether to grant an appeal to the neighbors of Sand Land, who contend that operations at the nearly 50-acre site do not predate town zoning, as Town Chief Building Inspector Michael Benincasa has ruled.

In July 2011, Mr. Benincasa decided that the company was entitled to a pre-existing, nonconforming use certificate of occupancy for “the operation of a sand mine, the receipt and processing of trees, brush, stumps, leaves and other clearing debris into topsoil or mulch, and the storage, sale, and delivery of sand, mulch, topsoil and wood chips and any other relief necessary.”

The adjournment on the setback variances last Thursday, June 7, to August 16, came at the request of the firm’s lawyers, MacLachlan and Eagan of East Hampton. A series of adjournments have been requested for about a year, said David Eagan, an attorney for the firm.

“What we’ve been doing is adjourning that all along, because the major issue is the use,” he said. The variances involve setback for some existing structures on the Middle Line Highway property, he said.

ZBA Vice Chairman Adam Grossman noted that the board must decide on the larger issue of use first. “We’re not going to act on an application where we have a pending application that would impact the second one,” Mr. Grossman explained.

Mr. Grossman said he was optimistic that the board would reach a decision on the appeal on June 21, although he declined to speculate on which way the board may go. “I don’t let the cat out of the bag,” he said.

Mr. Eagan said this week he that he was confident the board would agree with his firm’s past presentations supporting the idea that the building inspector’s decision was rational.

Some neighbors of the site have claimed that although the business only has approvals to operate as a sand mining facility, operations have expanded to include a solid waste processing plant, including the disposal of landscaping materials, composting and rock crushing. They have also complained that stench and loud noise at the site have disrupted their quality of life over the years.

Land Trust Fundraisers

The Peconic Land Trust is seeking numerous variances from the Southampton Town Zoning Board of Appeals involving the nonprofit conservation group’s use of nearly 5 acres of gardens in Bridgehampton.

The trust is seeking permission for two uses, residential and philanthropic, for Bridge Gardens, where currently only one use is allowed. The trust is seeking the variances, in part, so that it can use the grounds, which are renowned for their beauty, for fundraising purposes to stick to its mission of promoting land conservation.

The board did not initially seem in favor of the application at a meeting last Thursday, June 7. Mr. Grossman called the variance request “unusual.”

The trust is looking to have a philanthropic use on two properties on the Mitchell Lane gardens. Three acres is required for such a use, but one parcel is just 2.6 acres and the other is 2.3 acres. It also seeks permission to have “intensive outdoor activity” and an outdoor public-address system and music, as well as a private kitchen and bar with the ability to serve food and beverages until 10 p.m. on Mondays through Thursdays, where such services are permitted only to 9 p.m. Setback variances for two proposed storage sheds, as well as for additional on-site parking, round out the application.

“The problem is there’s nothing in the code that identifies this use,” Kim Quarty, a project manager for the trust told the ZBA last Thursday.

Bridge Gardens was donated to the trust in 2008 by founders and gardeners Jim Kilpatric and Harry Neyens. The gardens span nearly 5 acres and include many specimens of trees, hedgerow, flowers and herbs.

Board members suggested last Thursday that the trust merge the two parcels, an option that Ms. Quarty said the trust was trying to avoid, but one she said she could discuss with the trust’s board. ZBA members also drew parallels to a catering hall and suggested extra noise from events on the site could annoy neighbors.

“I think this application has to be weighed very carefully,” Mr. Grossman said, noting that the ZBA would seek input from the Town Planning Board. “It’s extensive relief,” he said of the request.

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