At a Town Planning Board work session two weeks ago, I was stunned to hear misinformation and omissions during the discussion on the Southampton Tennis Club and Camp’s site plan draft report. At one point, I wondered if any studies and statements submitted to the Planning Board during the public input period were distributed and read. Submissions included expert opinions and insights regarding the changing conditions that would quality to have the SEQRA opened for this site.
Another disappointing observation was the push-back by the camp’s lawyer regarding the installation of upgraded septic systems; environmental guidelines and regulatory requirements for commercial facilities were omitted from the draft report for the camp’s site plans.
I respectfully and urgently request that the wastewater management requirements defined by Suffolk County Board of Health be included in the conditions of the camp’s site plan approval. This is part of the overall wastewater management strategy in Suffolk County. This is not a “nice to have” — this is a standard defined in the Subwatersheds Wastewater Plan. The camp’s lawyer stated that it is a commercial site — the county’s commercial standards must be represented in the requirements for the site plan approval.
The Planning Board members have been appointed “to provide for the improvement of the town, future growth, protection of natural resources, and to provide adequate facilities for housing, transportation, distribution, comfort, convenience, public health, safety, and general welfare of the residents.” This responsibility should not be ignored to favor the interests of a developer over the protection of natural resources and public health. A commercial developer should not be allowed to push back and disregard environmental regulations and expert recommendations.
At one point, the camp’s lawyer stated that it is “too expensive” to install upgraded septic systems. The camp is in operation for eight to 10 weeks in the summer, has reported an average enrollment of 360 campers (with upward of 400), and charges between $1,050 and $1,600 per camp attendee, per week. It is my opinion that there is adequate income to upgrade their septic systems to meet county health standards.
All options and approaches to protect the health, safety and welfare of the community should be first in the hearts and minds of the Planning Board, zoning board and elected town officials. Preventing health and environmental failures should come above the commercial interests of developers and businesses.
There is enough information for the Planning Board members to require further analysis regarding the SEQRA for this site, based on recent environmental developments. Our town officials must not ignore potential risks to public health, regional water quality and community well-being in the town and within the Peconic Estuary watershed.
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