Approximately 100 angry North Sea residents packed a Southampton Zoning Board of Appeals meeting on Thursday night—following a protest on the steps of Town Hall—to deliver an emphatic and emotional message to members of the board, that they don’t want a children’s seasonal day camp in North Sea.
Carrying colorful protest signs, members of the community turned out to oppose applicant Jay Jacobs’s plan to create a seasonal day camp on Majors Path. Mr. Jacobs is planning to do so by renovating current facilities and structures on the nearly 17.3-acre site, which is near Little Fresh Pond. The camp could eventually boast a membership of 350 to 400 day campers, and up to 60 counselors living on the grounds.
Specifically, the group is waging a challenge before the ZBA on a determination made this summer by Chief Building Inspector Michael Benincasa that Mr. Jacobs’s plan is not an expansion or change in use from what currently exists on the residentially-zoned site and that he only needs site plan application before the Planning Board instead of ZBA approval.
Before the meeting, a group of the residents rallied outside Town Hall in winds so strong that a sign blew out of a protester’s hands. The group held a long banner that read “Save Little Fresh Pond.” One of the biggest concerns residents have raised with Mr. Jacobs’s application is potential pollution to the pond, and to neighboring Big Fresh Pond.
Attorneys for both Mr. Jacobs and the neighbors spoke at the ZBA hearing in intricate detail about the appeal. Residents and their attorney, James S. Henry, argued that a camping use on the site has been abandoned for years. Wayne Bruyn, the attorney for the applicant, said the burden is on the appellants—the neighbors and their attorney—to prove it has been abandoned. He also said the determination from Mr. Benincasa didn’t come lightly. About 30 people spoke at the meeting, including Mr. Jacobs.
The ZBA voted to adjourn the public hearing until December 1. The attorneys are expected to file responses to one another over the next month.