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Hamptons Life

Jun 11, 2018 11:40 AMPublication: The East Hampton Press & The Southampton Press

Subdivision Plan For Long Springs Farm Trudges On

Jun 12, 2018 1:27 PM

Carol Mayo sold 21.7 acres of farmland in North Sea, including her home and a barn, to a limited liability company, Kamicutico, for $9.3 million in 2016. This year, she stood before the Southampton Town Planning Board during a public hearing on May 24 to fight a preliminary subdivision application that would divvy up the property—known as Long Springs Farm—into 11 residential lots eyed for development.

“I feel guilty even talking because the present owners paid us a very good price for being there, but I just didn’t expect this,” Ms. Mayo said, referring to the potential cluster of homes.

Neighbors have expressed concerns for the environment since development was proposed. During a meeting in September 2017 to discuss three different plans and yield maps that were submitted as part of the pre-application process, a community effort led by Katherine Hildreth Graham—whose family had lived at the estate between 1912 and when they sold to Ms. Mayo about 40 years ago—warned of dangers development will pose to the property and 63 acres of adjacent county parkland and wetlands. The year prior, Kamicutico was ordered by the Southampton Town Investigations and Enforcement Unit to stop filling a pond on the property, because it didn’t obtain the proper permits.

Kamicutico is also the owner of a contentious subdivision project in Tuckahoe that converted 34.2 acres of a former potato field known as Rosko Farms into 29 1-acre lots for 28 single-family homes in 2015. The rest of the acreage was designated for contiguous open space, just south of the Long Island Rail Road tracks.

Meanwhile, Kamicutico’s current proposal for 437 North Sea Mecox Road in North Sea calls for a planned residential development on 22.2 acres. It’s divided into 11 buildable lots, averaging 1.3 acres in size, and designates 7.8 acres to open space. The homes would be accessed by a sycamore tree-lined 30-foot-wide private road. Three workforce housing units are proposed offsite.

Sheila Compareto, a member of the North Sea Community Advisory Council, said the open space isn’t designated with the community in mind.

“It’s open space for the homes to have a bigger backyard,” Ms. Compareto said.

Bruce Anderson, from Suffolk Environmental Consulting in Bridgehampton and who represented Kamicutico during the public hearing, said it has been typical of the board to “link open space” when there is a cluster subdivision.

“This just looks like a village street and it’s kind of devastating,” Ms. Mayo said.

Dennis Finnerty, the board’s chairman, clarified that “the number of lots are a function of zoning, and is not determined by this board.” The area is in a CR80 Zoning District, allowing for one single-family residence every 2 acres.

“There was some confusion the last hearing about the status of the ponds,” Mr. Finnerty said, referring to previous controversy.

Mr. Anderson said the two manmade ponds on the property will remain as they are. He said the planning board has viewed manmade ponds as any other structure, like a shed, in the past. There’s an additional manmade pond that encroaches a residential lot to the north. Anderson argued that most of the pond is actually on county property, which is not regulated by the town.

The pond straddles the lot line that’s shared with county parkland, which makes Town Planning Board Member Jacqui Lofaro want to have a say in the structure. Another member, Robin Long, chimed in, especially interested because of previous community concern surrounding the effect of development on the wetlands.

“I remember there was some testimony at one of these hearings regarding wetlands movements—waters or streams—into one of these ponds,“ Ms. Long said.

Mr. Anderson disputed the activity of the wetlands, but Ms. Lofaro reinforced previous testimony of Ms. Hildreth Graham, who was not in attendance.

“When it was in its natural state, there was—not quite a swell—a waterflow that came down, filled that pond, spilled over and filled the next pond,” Ms. Lofaro said.

“Whatever the allegation, whatever was described doesn’t matter to us because the ponds are manmade,” Mr. Anderson said. “I don’t know what else to tell you. It’s not a feature of regulations.”

The property is outside of the Aquifer Protection District and Agricultural District overlays. However, there are numerous streams offsite in the wetlands. Ms. Mayo clarified that the pond behind the house does have an intermittent stream that flows to a larger pond to the south. The source of the water comes from a spring to the north on a neighboring property. She alleged that the LLC must have cut off that water source in 2016.

Eric Woodward and his wife, Hillary, are neighbors of the proposed subdivision. Mr. Woodward said he is worried that building on rolling meadows will be unsafe for the wetlands. The parkland is downhill from any proposed build. Mr. Woodward requested any future building to be not built on sloped areas.

One of the lots to the north has been degraded by the dumping of brush and tree stumps. Mr. Woodward said the LLC should have a removal plan compliant with town and county conservation standards.

“It’s not a big problem, but now you have the authority to make them take action,” he said. Mr. Woodward is also on the town trail advisory board, which had recommended that there be a trail easement along the private road and a 100-foot-wide trail easement that extends the entire length of the west end of the property at the pre-application meeting. He updated the town trail advisory board’s recommendation clarifying that the board is no longer seeking the road-side trail, because of disinterest expressed by adjacent property owners.

“The Long Springs Farm has superb scenic views as well as open space value with its border to the 62-acre county parkland deserves special consideration,” Mr. Woodward said. “Unfortunately, the applicant’s preliminary map shows absolutely no trail opportunities on the property and puts potential houses extremely close to the county park.”

The current recommendation includes a 50-foot buffer between the country parkland and residential lots for a 20-foot-wide trail easement that spans east toward North Sea Mecox Road.

“It’s almost an insult to the park to have structures set back 25 feet away from the county park’s property line,” Mr. Woodward said.

Opponents of the proposal, like Ms. Compareto, are worried large homes with multiple bathrooms and in-ground pools would have an impact on the groundwater. The trail advisory board wants the 25-foot setback to be in addition to the recommended 50-foot buffer, which would help protect the wetlands from pollutants. Not to mention the necessity for safety—the county parkland is also an active hunting location. Properties in 2-acre zoning usually are required to have a setback of 100 feet.

It’s unclear what will happen to property’s rustic farmhouse. Ms. Compareto said she overheard plans to remove the home, but that couldn’t be verified.

“It’s a beautiful home. It can be seen from North Sea Mecox Road looking up the hill. It’s definitely over 75 years old. It would have to go before the board with a hearing to see how they would weigh in on it,” she said. “And it wasn’t mentioned on any of the previous planning. … It would be an absolute shame to lose it to development.”

Ms. Mayo, who had lived there for more than 40 years with her husband, Anthony, was choked up, frustrated and heartbroken.

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I must admit I would rather not see this project go forward. But its hard to stomach the former owners "frustration and heartbreak". When selling the land for 9.3M to the LLC they never foresaw this happening? What would the town have offered thru the CPF? Was that avenue ever explored? If preservation was the intent of the previous owners why not?
By rouff11 (6), water mill on Jun 13, 18 7:34 AM