A Difficult Argument - 27 East


Southampton Press / Opinion / Letters / 2260076

A Difficult Argument

A global developer, Discovery Land, sued Southampton Town for $100 million after members of the Town Board rejected the developer’s application to build a 600-acre golf course resort in East Quogue known as The Hills Planned Development District or PDD (the PDD has since been reconfigured and redefined as the Lewis Road Planned Residential Development or PRD).

In the lawsuit, Discovery Land argued that Town Board members intentionally abrogated their legislative obligation to vote in accordance with a binding project findings statement and that their votes were cast for the illegitimate purpose of assuaging a loud and vocal minority.

However, being loud or vocal or a minority is not illegal.

The real issue appears to be whether a project findings statement is final, a difficult argument given that the board had yet to vote on its final decision.

In an independent analysis, an academic with a Ph.D. in environmental studies wrote that Southampton’s zoning code was “a confusing mix of overlapping ordinances.” And, a local National Public Radio station that reviewed the golf course development reported, “It’s a long, complicated and confusing process … ”

So it wouldn’t be surprising for Discovery Land to confuse a findings statement with a final decision.

In my opinion, the findings statement was incomplete. For example, the entrance to the golf course resort is right smack in the middle of Lewis Road in the Pine Barrens. Discovery Land widened Lewis Road by adding a turning lane to accommodate the entrance to the resort. Yet it appears the widening of Lewis Road was never analyzed.

More egregious, Discovery Land openly acknowledged that public water would be brought to all of the lots associated with the increased density development but planned to cut off public water to homes located on Lewis Road in the Pine Barrens directly opposite the development, an inexplicably stingy act given that Discovery Land valued its development in the courts at $100 million.

Discovery Land was well aware of its business plan from the start. The decision to effectively harm Lewis Road in the Pine Barrens was enough of a reason to reject The Hills PDD.

Susan Cerwinski

East Quogue