Southampton Town announced Tuesday that the town has made an offer to preserve one of the last large undeveloped and unpreserved pieces of land in the town — on property slated to be developed into a golf course with and 118 luxury homes known as “The Hills at East Quogue.”
Although Southampton Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman did not release the details of the town’s offer in the announcement made Tuesday, he said “it was significantly higher than the price paid by (owners) Discovery Land for the property.”
The town had authorized two appraisals before making the offer.
The town has been pursuing the possibility of preservation more than three years, although former Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst told the town board in the fall of 2013 that none of their offers had piqued the developer’s interest.
The property, on Lewis Road in East Quogue, is not far from the headwaters of Weesuck Creek, which empties into western Shinnecock Bay, one of the most impaired water bodies on the East End.
In order to build the golf course, Discovery Land would need Southampton Town to issue a change of zone from a residential zoning district to a mixed use planned development district.
Their PDD proposal has caused many residents to call for a ban on PDDs, and the town in May enacted a one-year moratorium on consideration of new PDD requests, in part due to the public opposition to this project.
People in East Quogue have had mixed views about the proposal. Some welcomed the estimated $3.5 million in tax revenue, which they said would offset costs at the school without sending more students to the district, while others worried that fertilizer from the golf course and nitrogen from the septic systems in the houses could end up in the bay.
A group called “Stop the Hills” has been working for several years to put a halt to the project.
Mr. Schneiderman sponsored a resolution during his prior role as Suffolk County Legislator in 2011 for the county to acquire the property in joint ownership with the Town of Southampton. That effort stalled in May of 2013 because the joint offer was below the price Discovery Land had paid for the property.
“I cannot proceed in good conscience with the review process without making a good faith effort to preserve the property,” said Supervisor Jay Schneiderman in Tuesday’s statement.
Mr. Schneiderman added that the property owner consented to have the property appraised “for the purpose of entertaining an offer for preservation. The golf course development was proposed through a Planned Development District, or PDD, which requires four votes for approval. The prospects for approval of the PDD are at best uncertain. The “as of right” development could allow up to 118 homes, excluding the golf course.”
The offer is being made using funding from the Community Preservation Fund. If accepted, it would be the largest single land acquisition in the history of the CPF program.
“Although some members of the community are supportive of the golf course development, the best course for the property is preservation,” said Councilman John Bouvier.