Seeds Of Development - 27 East


Southampton Press / Opinion / Letters / 1803485

Seeds Of Development

The State Supreme Court overturned Southampton Town’s plan to develop stores/housing along Montauk Highway, Hampton Bays [“Court Reverses Decision On Hampton Bays Downtown Overlay District,”, July 28].

The plaintiff in the lawsuit, Hampton Bays resident Gayle Lombardi, not a lawyer, taught herself how to do the legal work and paid hefty court fees. How many taxpayer dollars did the town waste paying lawyers to fight this resident? She reflects the wish of all the residents to stop the board from developing.

The Citizens Advisory Committee urged the board to pause on rezoning until a State Department of Environmental Conservation study of water ended.

The firehouse on Montauk Highway is in the now defunct overlay zone. Did the Town Board ask the fire department if fire trucks could quickly drive out the doors and depart amid increase overlay traffic and parking? Did the board ask the fire department if it could protect increased density?

The board didn’t ask residents if they want more density. Now that the court halted the overlay, no residents are complaining that there won’t be increased traffic, school cost, sewage, water use, nor concrete vistas.

Supervisor Jay Schneiderman called the court’s ruling a “temporary setback.” Halting development is a victory for residents, not a setback. It’s a “sell back” for the board, which evidently is not going to let the State Supreme Court nor residents stop them from gifting Hampton Bays to a developer.

The board has been planting seeds of development in Good Ground hamlet. The overlay was to be those seeds sprouting into a money tree. One developer has bought many properties in downtown Hampton Bays.

A town-owned property seems to be manipulated to help development. The former Chamber of Commerce building, 140 Montauk Highway, is in the overlay. The town bought it with restrictions that the tenants always be a nonprofit social service program.

On April 18, 2019, a nonprofit organization, SSEEN (Special Services East End Network), asked for the building for activities for special needs adults so they can remain in the community where they were raised. Schneiderman said the board thinks $300,000 in upgrades are needed.

Schneiderman rejected SSEEN because the town wanted to keep its options open, maybe use it as a second entrance to Good Ground Park, either directly or via a swap with another property. Are the purchase restrictions a “temporary setback”?

Today, the building has a sign saying “Do Not Trespass: Dangerous Conditions Inside.” No “for rent” sign. No way for a nonprofit group to know it’s dedicated to them. Schneiderman recently said the structure needs so much work, it may be demolished.

Since the board is fond of developers, its members should make their own neighborhoods an overlay district — except in Hampton Bays.

Carol McCarville, Esq.

Hampton Bays