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Aug 9, 2016 12:12 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Southampton Town Offer To Purchase 'The Hills' Property In East Quogue Is Rejected

Southampton Town offer to purchase Hills property rejected.   JEN NEWMAN
Aug 10, 2016 11:24 AM

A developer has rejected Southampton Town’s $35 million offer to buy nearly 600 acres in East Quogue targeted for a proposed luxury golf resort, a move indicating that Arizona-based Discovery Land Company intends to continue pursuing a controversial change of zone request that would permit the construction of 118 residences and an 18-hole course.

Discovery Land sent a letter to the town on Friday, more than a month before the town-imposed deadline to make a decision on the offer that was extended in July, stating that it has made “a substantial investment” in its project, called “The Hills at Southampton,” and that it is not interested in selling the property.

Southampton Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman revealed this week that the town’s offer was $35 million.

“I’m not particularly surprised, but I am disappointed,” Mr. Schneiderman said. “I felt the offer was a strong offer. I’ve been trying to preserve this land for a decade, but I can’t force them to sell,” added the supervisor, who used to be a Suffolk County legislator.

According to town records, the property in question is actually composed of at least 175 smaller lots that Discovery Land, also known as DLV Quogue LLC, already owns—even though those same records still list multiple owners for more than half of the land in question. Also unclear is the amount of money that Discovery Land has spent on the land as town records indicate that it spent $17.4 million on 49 lots totaling 290.9 acres in East Quogue in 2013—but does not list any other transactions for hamlet land that is now owned by the company.

Mark Hissey, a vice president with Discovery Land, has declined to say how much money his company has spent on the land—though he emphasized that it owns all of the property it is looking to develop.

On Tuesday, he explained that his company was not looking to sell the property but still considered the town’s offer.

“We took our time with it,” Mr. Hissey said. “We realized it didn’t make sense for us. We’re not here as short-term buyers. We’re making a big commitment in the community.”

In the letter sent to the town, Discovery Land representatives state that they are unwilling sellers and have no interest in negotiating with the town. “As was noted over three years ago when the town’s first offer was declined, DLV has made a substantial investment in the community,” the letter reads.

Money for the purchase would have come from the town’s Community Preservation Fund.

The town’s latest offer marks the fourth time that the town has unsuccessfully tried to buy the land, according to former supervisor Anna Throne-Holst who is making her first bid for Congress in the fall. She noted this week that her administration tried three times to buy the land, including once from its former owners, East Quogue Partners. One of those efforts involved the town teaming up with Suffolk County as part of a joint purchase that was never finalized. That effort was vetoed by former Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy, who stated at the time that his advisors told him that much of the property was already disturbed and that the land’s 5-acre zoning would prevent overdevelopment down the road.

In fact, Ms. Throne-Holst said that current zoning ensures that at least 65 percent of the land remains as open space. In its proposal, Discovery Land said its development would be focused on 168 acres, leaving the remaining acreage as open space. A significant portion of the land, however, cannot be developed due to preexisting restrictions.

“It’s a valuable piece of property,” Ms. Throne-Holst said. “It’s unique that there are not huge chunks of land like that left on the East End. They know that their return on investment is going to be high here. With that in mind, our job became to then manage what was the best possible outcome for whatever would be proposed there.”

Though she said she still could not disclose the amount of money the town offered to the prior owner, Ms. Throne-Holst said that amount could not legally exceed the appraised value of the property plus 10 percent—a rule that prevents municipalities from overpaying for land. In 2010, the town and county paid $10 million, or $5 million each, to buy and preserve 150 acres in East Quogue known as “The Links,” which runs adjacent to The Hills property.

Town officials, meanwhile, are still considering Discovery Land’s application for a planned development district that, if approved, would allow it to build 108 single-family homes, 10 condominiums and an 18-hole golf course on 168 acres. In exchange for the higher density, Discovery Land has pitched multiple community benefits, including the remediation of previously contaminated groundwater and the infusion of an estimated $4.4 million in annual tax revenue to the East Quogue School District from its development.

For the planned development district to be approved, four of the five Town Board members would have to sign off on the application. Presently, the town is waiting for Discovery Land to resubmit its latest version of the project’s draft environmental impact study, or DEIS, after the first two were rejected.

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The town stalls the owner's development plans, all the while trying to purchase the property. Does anyone else see the ethical problems here??? The developer should sue.
By Babyboo (277), Hampton Bays on Aug 5, 16 3:58 PM
How were the development plans stalled? Review of the application and the SEQRA process is on-going. Nothing was put on hold.

The developer is smart to reject the offer - if approved it's worth so much more (based on an appraisal). If denied, he still has as-of-right and an offer would likely be made again for the same price. At least he can calculate his costs while knowing what's on the back-end.

All of the above being said, the Town should reject this PDD on the merits ...more
By Nature (2966), Southampton on Aug 5, 16 4:02 PM
I couldn't say it better.

By sag2harbor (117), sag harbor on Aug 5, 16 4:06 PM
1 member liked this comment
Likewise I can think of better uses for CPF funds.
By Toma Noku (616), Southampton on Aug 5, 16 9:00 PM
Good.

Save the tax payers money.
Maybe, after the Town denies the MEGA rezoning they thought they would get - it'll stay unbuilt and on the tax rolls for years.
By sag2harbor (117), sag harbor on Aug 5, 16 4:05 PM
I know of a nice parcel in Speonk that could make a wonderful Hamlet green area and park putting those CPF funds to good use. #41NPhillips
By littleones (23), Remsenburg on Aug 5, 16 4:08 PM
2 members liked this comment
As Supervisor Schneiderman said, he can't force them to sell. But, by keeping the PDD alive, he is offering them a strong incentive, not to sell.
By CleanWater (122), East Quogue on Aug 5, 16 4:28 PM
1 member liked this comment
As Supervisor Schneiderman said, he can't force them to sell. But, by keeping the PDD alive, he is offering them a strong incentive not to sell.
By CleanWater (122), East Quogue on Aug 5, 16 4:29 PM
If Trump were on town council he'd take them head on as businessman and stfd their predatory development and hammer their attempt to hold the community hostage
By dave h (193), calverton on Aug 5, 16 10:40 PM
3 members liked this comment
The Town Board and their consultants are doing exactly what they should be doing - carefully examining the request for re-zoning. It's a process that will work its way to a rejection. It's not a Republican verses Democrat affair. It's about our neighborhood!

At an appropriate time - the Board will turn down this wildly
aggressive and outrageous application for the biggest zoning change in Southampton Town's history.

It's 5 or 6 years since the area was up-zoned to 5 acres ...more
By sag2harbor (117), sag harbor on Aug 6, 16 2:11 PM
1 member liked this comment
It's time for the Town board to reject the PDD out of hand. That is, if Schneiderman et al are serious about preserving the pine barrens. Stop this insanity already!

Those of us against this project are only more determined to stop it. David will kill Goliath!!!!!
By Taz (650), East Quogue on Aug 6, 16 10:19 AM
I believe someone from Discovery was quoted in a newspaper or magazine saying that they usually out last the environmentalists.

They think we will lose focus.

"Goliath" thinks "David" doesn't live here anymore !!!

By sag2harbor (117), sag harbor on Aug 6, 16 2:19 PM
1 member liked this comment
To the environmentalist learn what it means to have a as of right. There will be houses there either what there legally allowed to do or a golf course with some summer homes. Keep fighting and you will have another Southampton pines that was originally going to be a golf course and condos with little effect on the school district and now you have aprox 120 year round houses that effects local resources. The residents should get behind it. There will be tax dollars with little drain on the local ...more
By Remsen (68), Southampton on Aug 6, 16 2:40 PM
2 members liked this comment
Remsen, there is no such thing as "as of right". It is a fantasy of the developer. Read the DEIS, and the Town scoping documents. This property is zoned five acre, in the Aquifer Overlay Protection District. When you get to see what can or cannot actually be built on the property you may change your mind. What the Cornell Study has told us is that what we don't what is 5,000,000 square feet of fertilized turf adding to the toxic brown and red tides we are already experiencing. There are hundreds ...more
By CleanWater (122), East Quogue on Aug 6, 16 3:40 PM
2 members liked this comment
Build as of right or not at all! We no longer have our old political prostitute as Supervisor thank God, let"s hope doesn't choose that career too.
By bigfresh (4422), north sea on Aug 6, 16 3:04 PM
2 members liked this comment
Big fresh they turned down the offer the only reason an offer was made is because they have legal right to build on it. A supervisor can't stop someone legal right. Keep fighting it because u will look like a bunch of clowns like the pines protesters. Eventually the developer will give up on the golf course and you will have aprox 90 homes. Try to understand reality. My favorite is when protestors complain about higher taxes but they support taking massive chucks of land off the tax rolls. Smart ...more
By Remsen (68), Southampton on Aug 6, 16 4:12 PM
... smart like the Bridgehampton PDD?
By William Rodney (546), southampton on Aug 6, 16 7:25 PM
The Pines in East Quogue is almost 20 years old. It has about 54 homes built out of 120 building lots.

Extrapolating this suggests that The Hills build out will be in the year 2065 - maybe?
By sag2harbor (117), sag harbor on Aug 7, 16 4:16 PM
3 members liked this comment
Only a government would buy something that they are getting 75 percent of for free???
By jeffscan (17), sh on Aug 6, 16 6:28 PM
The offer praise of course takes this into consideration. It doesn't matter if they can get 99% for free, I'll gladly pay if it means protecting my ground-water and my bays.

And not for nothin', but the CPF fund is so stacked with money it would be foolish not to make an offer. This is exactly why there *IS* a CPF fund
By Nature (2966), Southampton on Aug 6, 16 7:47 PM
1 member liked this comment
Poxabogue Golf Course already exists, is *one* land-use (and seasonal at that) and the only reason money was spent was to buy it out from East Hampton. It preserves a recreational use that's available to every resident in the Town (at a discounted price). How you could possibly equate Poxabogue with The Hills is mind boggling.

Farmlands are subject to BMP and, again, are existing uses. Purchasing development rights off of farmland accomplishes several things - including preventing ...more
By Nature (2966), Southampton on Aug 7, 16 10:40 AM
So the DLC rejects the SHT's offer because they have made substantial investment in the community for the past three years. Holding informational meetings in EQ eateries which included free food and drinks while trying to ram this project down our throats and lying to us must have cost them plenty.

If Anna Throne-Holst and the TB which included current TB elected official Scalera-Preston and Glinka would have nixed this project when the EQ community and various other environmental groups ...more
By crusader (390), East Quogue on Aug 7, 16 10:11 AM
3 members liked this comment
I understand there are still some homes in Southampton Pines that haven't been finished. DLC should have accepted the Town's offer. How many 5 acre homes will be sold in a development near the railroad without a golf course, miles from the bay and ocean? That is, of course, if there is no understanding on the part of DLC that the TB will approve the PDD. ??? What's really going on here? A political strategy to offer CPF funds to placate the citizens, and then an approval of the PDD????
You ...more
By Taz (650), East Quogue on Aug 7, 16 12:13 PM
I believe in Santa.

I don't believe in the Tooth Fairy.

I believe that the Town Board, as it is now populated, will turn down this request for a MEGA-ZONE-CHANGE. And, in due time.
By sag2harbor (117), sag harbor on Aug 7, 16 4:26 PM
And, I think Mr. Glinka and Ms. Scalera will not be returned to the Town Board if they persist in pushing this "dog" along...
By sag2harbor (117), sag harbor on Aug 7, 16 4:30 PM
1 member liked this comment
THE SUPERINTENDENT DECIDES

Lion, your statement that "The Hillls proposes a sophisticated best management and groundwater monitoring plan" is from the developers marketing materials and is not based in science or reality. It is intended to mislead. There are no limits and no protections.

Please read the DEIS and the consultants reports. When the 5,000,000 square feet of turf has bugs only the golf course superintendent will decide which toxic pesticides should be used, when, ...more
By CleanWater (122), East Quogue on Aug 9, 16 11:40 AM
Classic double-speak. Please provide one instance, ever, where the town, after reviewing a monitored property required a reduction in application of toxic chemicals or fertilizers and enforced it. One instance, ever.
By CleanWater (122), East Quogue on Aug 10, 16 9:50 PM
Your response is not responsive. You repeat that it is enforced by the town. Who in the town enforces it? How do they enforce it? Have they ever actually enforced it?
Read the protocols submitted. At best they say they will try really hard not to use more toxic pesticides than they absolutely have to. But the decision maker remains the golf course superintendent whose primary responsibility is lush green grass.
By CleanWater (122), East Quogue on Aug 12, 16 2:39 PM
Good try, Town Board, pity it didn't work out. Now, unless the Central Pine Barrens Commission steps in, we goback to the PDD application.

Every indicator points to denial of that application, but there may still be some concern about what can be built "as of right" in the event of such denial.

Town Board, don't worry about that. Remember, as of right isn't a blank check; there are significant restrictions that apply.

Also, remember that the as of right option may not ...more
By Turkey Bridge (1952), Quiogue on Aug 10, 16 8:34 PM
1 member liked this comment
Rejected $35 million. Really. Withdraw the offer, reject the PDD, and watch how the land sits empty for the next 20 years.
By CleanWater (122), East Quogue on Aug 10, 16 9:54 PM
2 members liked this comment
Where is our elected Town Board? Cat got their tongue? Are they still seriously considering the PDD? Isn't it clear the Discovery Land Company cares not for our community, they are risking our drinking water and bays for hundreds of millions of dollars in profits and throwing us a few cents. How naive are those who believe that they are "invested" in our community. Laughable if not so seriously sad.
By Taz (650), East Quogue on Aug 12, 16 9:48 AM
2 members liked this comment
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By CleanWater (122), East Quogue on Aug 12, 16 2:48 PM
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