Before the Southampton Town Zoning Board of Appeals can consider a change of use variance request by Jay Jacobs for his proposed summer day camp for kids on Majors Path in North Sea, an environmental impact study must be completed, according to ZBA Vice Chairman Adam Grossman.
Mr. Jacobs’s application came up before the board last Thursday night, September 6, in addition to another, second application to add a pool, a sports court and playground to the 17.3-acre tennis camp. Anxious about the addition of a pool, some North Sea residents said that approval of the second application would allow Mr. Jacobs to “back into” his day camp.
Last year, Mr. Jacobs submitted an application, through Southampton Day Camp Realty LLC, to change his tennis camp into a day camp, and the application was met with strong opposition from members of the Little Fresh Pond Association. Those opposed to Mr. Jacobs’s plan have said that a day camp would result in an increase in noise, density, traffic and potential pollution to Little Fresh Pond and its surroundings.
In March, the ZBA ruled that Mr. Jacobs must obtain a change of use variance, from one non-conforming use to another, to proceed with his plans, and prove that the change in use would be beneficial to the general neighborhood.
Before coming back to the ZBA for the change of use variance, Mr. Jacobs revised his original plans for the day camp which “offers more mitigation and benefits to the general neighborhood,” according to the application.
Mr. Jacobs no longer plans to replace four tennis courts with a softball field, and has eliminated a southerly access point to the camp. Instead, the plan provides for a connection from the center access driveway to the southerly parking area. Additionally, the number of overnight accommodations and sewage flow has been reduced from the legally grandfathered flow of 9,300 gallons per day to a flow not to exceed 5,220 gallons per day.
Although there is no restriction on how many campers can frequent the camp, the new plan allows for 360 campers and 60 counselors, according to Mr. Jacobs’s attorney, Wayne Bruyn of O’Shea, Marcincuk and Bryun LLP.
Mr. Bruyn maintains that the day camp would be a benefit to the neighborhood because of the updates to the area’s infrastructure.
“My client is willing to fix the town road,” he said about the unevenness of some parts of Majors Path. “We have septic systems that we’re proposing to upgrade to standards.”
Mr. Bruyn added that neighbors could hook up to a public water system it would extend to the area. Currently many residents rely on well water, just as the camp does at the moment.
Despite all the benefits Mr. Bruyn said could come from the day camp, if the change of use variance were granted, Little Fresh Pond Association members are still convinced that their neighborhood would be negatively affected from the traffic and pollution, noise and otherwise.
“I can live anywhere, but I chose to live on Little Fresh Pond,” said resident Ivan Bart. “Working in a stressful industry and coming back home with peace and tranquility is very important to me. We’re very scared. I think about the noise pollution alone and how are the inhabitants that can’t speak going to deal with that kind of noise?”
While no actions were taken by the board Thursday night, officials said the ZBA would name the lead agency—most likely the Town Planning Board—under the State Environmental Quality Review Act to conduct an environmental study at its next meeting on Thursday, September 20.
Mr. Grossman said the application would come back before the board on January 3, but the study may not be completed at that time since it is a “lengthy” and “more involved” process. Mr. Grossman said that while no resolution has been made, it seemed as though the ZBA was “supportive” of the Planning Board taking the reins. The ZBA, by law, must give the Suffolk County Department of Health and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation 30 days to indicate whether they would be interested in taking the lead status. After the SEQRA study is completed, and an environmental impact statement and a scoping outline are written, the application will come back before the ZBA to make a decision.
Hoping in the meantime to renovate his property, Mr. Jacobs filed an application to add a pool, sports court and playground in place of two tennis courts. Mr. Bruyn maintained that such a change would not be constituted as an expansion or change to the property requiring a variance. Mr. Bruyn offered several examples of tennis camps that include swimming on the East End, including Green Hollow Tennis Club in East Hampton and Sportime in Quogue, to show that a swimming pool on the premises would be an accessory structure, meaning that it would complement the property much like a private pool would to a home.