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Jun 28, 2017 11:09 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Southampton Town Board Extends PDD Moratorium, Delays Repeal Vote

Bob DeLuca, president of Group for the East End, an environmental advocacy group. JEN NEWMAN
Jun 28, 2017 11:31 AM

The Southampton Town Board on Tuesday officially extended the moratorium on planned development districts, or PDDs, by another three months, and members said they still intend to repeal the zoning law, though that will likely not happen until July.

Although they could have repealed the controversial zoning law at the conclusion of Tuesday night’s public hearing, Town Board members instead opted to adjourn the issue until their next meeting on Tuesday, July 11, when another hearing on the proposal also will likely be held. The meeting begins at 1 p.m.

“It’s a big action to have just one public hearing on it,” Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman said.

He also noted that Town Councilwoman Christina Scalera, who was unable to attend Tuesday’s meeting, wanted to be present when the board voted to repeal the legislation.

The moratorium on PDD applications, which actually expired on June 1, is now set to retire on September 1—though board members have suggested that the law will be repealed before the extension expires.

Environmentalists have been pushing for the law’s repeal since 2015, charging that it mostly benefits would-be developers by allowing them to greatly increase their potential profits in exchange for minimal community benefits—when the system, they’ve argued, should work the other way. A year-long moratorium was put in place last spring, originally in order to give the board time to assess whether they wanted to tweak and salvage the legislation.

But during their review, a special committee made up of town officials determined that the legislation was too problematic to update, prompting board members to consider ditching the law altogether. One of the committee’s biggest issues with the law, Mr. Schneiderman said, is that it offers too much flexibility for developers.

“At the end of the day, it just didn’t seem like we could fix it,” the supervisor said. “The best thing was to remove it as a tool and kind of engage the community on what it wants its future to look like.”

Several community leaders spoke out in favor of a full repeal at Tuesday’s public hearing, including former Southampton Town Trustee Frederick Havemeyer, who plans to challenge Mr. Schneiderman for the Democratic Party line this September. While he said he understands the original thinking behind the special zoning—permitting more intense development in exchange for worthwhile community benefits—Mr. Havemeyer said the PDD law has been manipulated to the point where developers are reaping the most benefits.

“Really, they’ve become moneybags for developers,” Mr. Havemeyer said of PDDs. “Over time, with the development pressure and all the money flying around, it just got out of control.”

Along with supporting the PDD repeal, Mr. Havemeyer encouraged the Town Board to take action and reject a specific PDD, called “The Hills at Southampton,” a proposed luxury golf course resort community pitched by the Discovery Land Company of Arizona and targeting nearly 600 acres in East Quogue. Because that project has advanced to the review stage, it would not be affected by a repeal of the PDD law.

Bob DeLuca, president of Group for the East End, an environmental advocacy group, echoed Mr. Havemeyer’s comments about The Hills, arguing that those who live near the proposed development want the town to decide on the application.

“You’re never going to get balance,” Mr. DeLuca said. “It’s never going to be cohesive, and it’s never going to be predictable.”

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VOTE ON THE HILLS NOW! How can the bigest PDD in SH history still be on the table when we all agree the PDD law is being manipulated? Fred Havemeyer for Supervisor! A man who is not afraid of the truth!
By Taz (700), East Quogue on Jun 28, 17 12:07 PM
3 members liked this comment
How can The Hills still be on the table? I'll tell you how, Taz, because the law says so, that's why. There are three laws involved here: the PDD law (on the way out, but we're stuck with it for The Hills), SEQRA, and the rules for Pine Barrens Commission review. Each one has its required steps, and if one of those steps is skipped, then the Town Board's decision denying the application will be thrown out by a court when Discovery sues, as they surely will.

So all this howling for a ...more
By Turkey Bridge (1966), Quiogue on Jun 28, 17 8:59 PM
1 member liked this comment
Turkey Bridge, why bring the Republican Party into the discussion? They are not the problem here, the Hills project is. It's refreshing to hear a candidate speak in a forthright manner , no wonder the Democrat establishment wants no part of Fred!
By bigfresh (4595), north sea on Jun 29, 17 6:17 AM
PUSH THIS FORWARD NOW AND STOP THE HILLS!!! According to Jay Schneiderman (assuming he is correct) the Pine Barrens Commision review can not take place unless and until the Town makes a decision approving the PDD. So who is right? Maybe you should double check your version of the sequence of things.
Further, Jay is just one member of the PBC. Maybe he is wrong. Dick Amper insists that the PBC can rule on the Hills at any time. A negative ruling by them would remove the need for a decision ...more
By Taz (700), East Quogue on Jun 29, 17 1:11 PM
Wrong again, bigfresh, the Republican Party is the problem. Here's why -- even if the present Town Board repeals the PDD law and denies The Hills application before the election, Fred Havemeyer's primary challenge could easily cause a GOP victory in November, something you've probably figured out, so you're trying to distract us, to take the focus off that.

What happens then? Well, there's nothing to prevent that development-friendly Republican Town Board from reinstating the PDD law ...more
By Turkey Bridge (1966), Quiogue on Jun 29, 17 4:04 PM
The only thing Fred's primary will cause is Jay getting his ass kicked and the establishment candidate being sent packing! Fred will win it all in a landslide and the party hacks will be shown to be irrelevant . That's why you can not back the better man.
By bigfresh (4595), north sea on Jun 29, 17 4:49 PM
1 member liked this comment
If Fred wins the Dem primary, no one will work harder for him than I will, but Jay will still have the Independence and Conservative lines, dividing the vote. so that's what I mean by a possible GOP win. That's what Fred is pointing us toward, whether he wants to or not.
By Turkey Bridge (1966), Quiogue on Jun 29, 17 5:30 PM
So the town board is still intent on throwing the baby out with the bath water. The law should be kept with two modifications:
1. The PDD project itself must be a community benefit.
2. After the board has done their due diligence, the project must be placed on a ballot for approval by the taxpayers.

A perfect example of how this would be beneficial can be found in the article regarding Peconic Landing's interest in placing an assisted living facility in place of the currently proposed ...more
By bird (824), Sag Harbor on Jun 30, 17 7:13 AM
You hit the nail on the head - "micromanaging" - they don't have a clue what they are doing, but they are running around like hamsters in a wheel trying to "fix" everything. Clean the Swamp including the Planning Department. Just because people are in their jobs for a long time doesn't mean they know what they are doing...maybe they just reached their level of incompetency.
By HB Proud (889), Hampton Bays on Jun 30, 17 7:20 AM