Atlantic Golf Club Housing Plan, 'Outrageous,' Neighbors Say - 27 East

Atlantic Golf Club Housing Plan, ‘Outrageous,’ Neighbors Say

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The proposed staff housing at Atlantic Golf Club.       Courtesy Land Use Ecological Services

The proposed staff housing at Atlantic Golf Club. Courtesy Land Use Ecological Services

Kitty Merrill on Jun 7, 2021

Neighbors are concerned that a proposed residential building to house staff at the Atlantic Golf Club on Scuttle Hole Road in Bridgehampton could morph into a party house, or maybe even something else. Speaking at a public hearing on the proposal last month, they raised the specter of boisterous after-work parties, with one neighbor worrying that as many as 48 people might end up in the house’s 16 bedrooms.

Neighbors also are concerned about the potential environmental impacts to nearby Shorts Pond, as well as the loss of a vista cherished as among the most scenic in Southampton Town.

If approved as proposed, the 6,500-square-foot building would have 16 en suite bedrooms, 10 on the first floor and 6 on the second. The house would be built on a field located to the north of Shorts Pond, right on the road.

Presenting the application during the May 13 public hearing, Tony Panza of Rogers McCragg Architects pointed out that properties adjacent to the proposed site have houses with larger footprints, and while they may have only five or six bedrooms, they could accommodate up to 12 people.

Mr. Panza made mention of the number of guests a nearby residence could host in rebuttal to a point raised by neighbor Catherine Prewett. “When I heard of this project, I was taken aback,” said the neighbor who has lived in the area her entire life. Describing the building as a “behemoth,” she said it was unbelievable such a huge structure would be put right on Scuttle Hole Road

“Golf Club employees work hard and play hard,” she continued. Ms. Prewett predicted parties and noise, music and garbage, adding that if there were 16 bedrooms, on a Friday night there could be as many as 48 people on the site. She also listed the building being vacant a portion of the year among her concerns. Employees are seasonal and work when the club is open, from April to October.

Mr. Panza countered that in all its years, there have never been any complaints about club staff, not from neighbors, nor police.

The plan calls for some grass parking spots because, Mr. Panza said, some of the staff don’t need cars.

That part of the proposal is ridiculous, Charles Bowman of Land Use Ecological Services, speaking on behalf of the neighborhood group, Short Pond Associates, said. “No one’s going to have visitors and everyone’s going to be on bicycles?” he said. He wondered how the club would “police” the housing to make sure it doesn’t morph into 36 people.

There is already some onsite housing, Mr. Panza said, and there is a “strict rule” of one person per bedroom. There is a supervisor who oversees the staff, he said.

Several speakers made note that the club has over 200 acres, and yet, their planners picked the part of the property that would be the greatest burden on the public and the least on the golf course. Put the housing on a putting green, Crosby Renwick suggested. If the club wants to save money on rent elsewhere, it should make a sacrifice, he theorized.

Speaking on behalf of the club, Dennis Suskind, the president of the club and a former Southampton Town Board member said, “For clarification, this is not saving money, this is costing us money.”

“The plan was to be as light on the land as possible,” Mr. Panza clarified, pointing to the existing field that would serve as the housing site.

“This is the obvious location for housing our employees,” Mr. Suskind said.

From its inception, the Atlantic Golf Club has been very concerned about the land, very dedicated about water quality and very concerned about the vista, Mr. Suskind said. He and Mr. Panza both reproached speakers for labeling the building a transient motel. They refuted the notion repeatedly.

Still, members of the Bridgehampton Citizens Advisory Committee worried the facilities could be used for other purposes that might be difficult to monitor, CAC Chairwoman Pamela Harwood said last week. The en suite bedrooms, each with its own bathroom, raised brows about a potential transformation into another use, but also about the potential impact on the wetlands nearby.

“You have 200 acres, do you really have to put it on Shorts Pond?” Mr. Bowman queried. He asked for data relating to the project’s potential impact on the groundwater. Beyond the impacts of 16 bathrooms, he questioned the kitchens and laundry facilities.

Brian Matthews, of the law firm Matthews, Kirst and Cooley said he was speaking on behalf of a neighbor, Maryann Garbrielle, whose property is “immediately to the north of this transient motel.” Berating the application as “so far out of whack for the neighborhood,” he wondered how it had progressed to the point of a public hearing.

Multifamily dwellings are expressly prohibited in a residential zone, Mr. Matthews said, arguing that fact alone should exclude the application. And, the lawyer continued, while a building inspector determination allowed staff housing as an accessory use at golf clubs, there was no such determination for the Atlantic Golf Club specifically. The Town Board allows staff housing for agricultural uses and restaurants under certain circumstances, but the Atlantic proposal, “goes against every zoning tenet there is,” he said. “It’s our view this proposal is completely prohibited and should not go forward.”

Nevertheless, Mr. Matthews pointed out that other golf clubs with housing “tuck it way up in the woods,” not on a scenic road like Scuttle Hole, where it will place an “outrageous burden” on his client.

Jane Held’s family has owned its nearby property since the mid-1980s. She recalled her family preserved a large piece of land to protect the pond when they developed. The club is doing everything it can to minimize the impact on its own property while maximizing the impact on neighbors, Ms. Held said.

The Planning Board adjourned the May hearing and scheduled a second session for Thursday, June 10.

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