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Jun 26, 2018 5:29 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press

Proposed Sag Harbor Impound Lot Faces Southampton Approval, Fears Of Further Development

The site of the proposed Sag Harbor Impound Lot on the Bridgehampton-Sag Harbor Turnpike. JON WINKLER
Jun 27, 2018 11:14 AM

While the Village of Sag Harbor is inching closer to designating a new impound lot, concerned citizens are fearful that the move would set a precedent and other woodland properties could be threatened in the future.

A 4,800-square-foot lot on the Bridgehampton-Sag Harbor Turnpike is being eyed by the village to become a new storage lot for impounded cars—meant to free up space in the village’s garage on Columbia Street, where impounded cars are currently stored.

The property, between the Southampton Recycling Center and the Long Pond Greenbelt, is owned by the village, but is situated in Southampton Town outside the village. Site plan approval from the Town Planning Board would be required prior to the village paving and fencing off the lot.

Environmentalists have objected to the plan, fearing that the impound lot could damage the nearby Long Pond Greenbelt, an 1,100-acre collection of ponds, woods and wetlands that stretches between Sag Harbor and Sagaponack. It was first designated by Southampton Town as a high priority for preservation in 1985.

Robert DeLuca, president of the Group for the East End, said recently that the major concern of developing the lot would be “incremental creeping of more industrial uses” near the greenbelt.

Mr. DeLuca also said he finds development in the area as “counterintuitive” to what the greenbelt stands for. While the proposed impound lot is a small parcel, he said he wonders what the future of nearby forest areas might become if it is approved.

“We have to look at whether or not the property is slated for more development. What’s going to happen here?” he said.

According to Sag Harbor Village Mayor Sandra Schroeder, plans for the lot are still in front of the Planning Board. Ms. Schroeder said that Village Attorney David J. Gilmartin Jr. is waiting to hear back from the board regarding the thickness of the blacktop the village intends to lay down on the lot. She added that this is intended to prevent any leaks or fluid runoff from impounded cars from leaching into the surrounding environment. Ms. Schroeder also said that a village employee would be dedicated to monitoring the lot to ensure no vehicle fluids were leaking onto the lot.

“To me, it’s an emerging concern,” Mr. DeLuca said. “Obviously, anytime you place vehicles, and their fluids are not drained, the concern is still there. It’s a question of magnitude, usually, and an individual case-by-case basis.”

Dai Dayton, president of the Friends of the Long Pond Greenbelt, shared Mr. DeLuca’s concerns on Tuesday when she emphasized the need to have a plethora of preserved nature for the East End and saw no way for the village and concerned environmentalists to meet in the middle. She even admitted to being “surprised” that Sag Harbor is pushing for the lot’s development since she claims the village is aware of the environmental importance of the greenbelt and its surrounding environment.

“There are plenty of impound lots to use—why put this in the middle of the woods, where you can’t even watch the cars?” Ms. Dayton asked. “The whole idea doesn’t make sense.”

The site plan is scheduled to be discussed at the Southampton Town Planning Board work session this Thursday, June 28, at 2 p.m.

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