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Jan 15, 2019 4:09 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Sagaponack Gives Prelimnary Approval To Schwenk Subdivision

The Sagaponack Village Board this week gave the go-ahead for the owner of the central portion of the farm fields on along Montauk Highway, across from Poxabogue Golf Center, to file a subdivision plan for the land.
Jan 15, 2019 4:15 PM

The Sagaponack Village Board this week gave the owner of a large parcel of farmland a somewhat reluctant nod of approval to move forward with plans for a 9-lot housing subdivision that will split one of the largest swaths of contiguous farmland on the South Fork.

Members of the board lamented that their hands were effectively tied if the property owner, Kenneth Schwenk, wished to proceed with the plans that the board gave preliminary approval to on Monday.

The plans will still have to go through the normal site plan review by the same board, but since the layout meets the village’s zoning regulations, changes to the plan would likely only be minor.

“I hate to see this land subdivided,” Mayor Donald Louchheim said. “But the fact that the family held out as long as it did, they should not be penalized for that. It’s not a vote I want to cast.”

In a 4-0 vote in favor of approving the preliminary plans—village Trustee Lee Foster, whose family owns most of the adjoining farmland and has objected to the proposal, recused herself from the vote—the village set aside pleadings from numerous residents and officials, who said that the Schwenks should be made to preserve more of the farmland or sell the development rights to the Southampton Town Community Preservation Fund.

But the village’s development planning consultant, Richard Warren, said that village law does not allow the board to insist on a larger preservation set-aside, only to incentivize it if an owner is willing to forgo some development in exchange for expedited review of their plans, which Mr. Schwenk has shown no interest in. As for sale to the CPF, Mr. Warren noted that any such deal also requires a voluntary seller and would have to be affected through negotiations between CPF officials and Mr. Schwenk.

“There seems to be some confusion on the part of people writing to you that you can ask for 80-percent [preservation],” Mr. Warren said of the pleadings from residents and East Hampton Town planning officials urging the village to work more preservation into the designs. “You can ask the Peconic Land Trust to work with the land owners, but you can’t force them to do that.”

Mr. Schwenk’s family owns 41 acres of land that forms the central chunk of three individually owned farmland parcels that form a mile-long stretch of basically uninterrupted farmland along Montauk Highway just west of Town Line Road. Both the 89-acre parcel at the western end of the stretch—owned by Ms. Foster’s family—and the 17-acre parcel at the eastern end are entirely preserved from residential development.

The Schwenk plans will leave about 27 acres of the plot as farmland, and will leave the family farmstead standing. The nine house lots—each a little more than an acre—will be clustered along the southern edge property, abutting the rear property lines of homes on Parsonage Pond Lane.

The lots will be connected to Montauk Highway by a road that will bisect the farmland, along Mr. Schwenk’s western property line. The Village Board’s approval included a caveat that the road not be lined with trees, or any other landscaping that would inhibit views across the remaining open fields.

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Why can't the Town of Southampton buy this land with the preservation fund. What is wrong with these towns. How can Sagaponack village allow such a terrible thing to happen. KEEP THE OPEN SPACE.
By rvs (101), sag harbor on Jan 17, 19 11:59 AM
The land trust should just make an offer now and put this to bed.
By LambdaLambda (1), Quogue on Jan 19, 19 9:13 AM