Bridgehampton Neighbors Worry About “Solar Farm”

Posted on 18 December 2008

By Marianna Levine

 The proposed solar powered farm on 501 Ocean Road, owned by Ziel Feldman, Chair of Polar Investments in New York City, was still at the forefront of discussions at the December meeting of the Bridgehampton Citizens Advisory Committee. However there was more urgency to the dialogue this time since CAC Chairman Fred Camman and new CAC member and Ocean Road neighbor Whitney Fairchild reminded everyone attending that the building plans were about to be approved on January 8.

Camman and Fairchild had recently attended a Southampton Town Planning Board meeting where the 13.2 acre sustainable farm had been thoroughly discussed. At that meeting, Fairchild reported, a long lists of neighbors’ complaints were read out including concerns about the deer fencing of the property, lighting, traffic concerns, noise pollution, the design of the windmill, and the positioning of the loading dock and dumpster. The developer’s representative Kyle Collins of KPC planning services, aware that the CAC was not in support of the development, talked about how the loading dock and dumpster could be moved or taken out of the design all together, according to the attending CAC members. Both weren’t sure how that would be possible, and suggested that they be moved toward Feldman’s other lots, the ones he hopes to develop into luxury homes, instead of near the already existing homes.

The CAC was concerned that the organic farm was actually going to be more of a solar farm, and that would be stretching the idea of what agricultural land usage means in the future. Mr. Camman had discovered that the farm wasn’t even registered with the Northeast Organic Farm Association as yet. Fairchild stated, “This sounds more like a commercial venture, especially if Feldman is a solar businessman. We really need to find out if that’s the case because this could set a precedent for the commercial energy use of agricultural reserve land.” This comment followed Ocean Road neighbor Georgia Rose’s statement that she had read somewhere that Feldman owned a solar power company. Jeffery Vogel and other CAC members pointed out that no one knew that for certain but that it would be interesting to find out the truth.

Camman stressed action must be taken immediately, and asked for a vote on whether Fairchild and he could go and speak to Kyle Collins on behalf of all members. CAC secretary Dick Bruce added, “it’s too risky to wait. We’ve seen what has been done to agricultural reserve land before, and we should give as much support and power to Fred and Whitney as possible.” Jenice Delano reminded people “the rules of what one can do on agricultural reserve land are quite broad,” and Camman did note, “What they plan to do is permitted by the state.” Prior to the vote several members wanted to know what Camman and Fairchild wanted to accomplish by confronting Collins. The chairman explained that “we’re trying to convince him that this project will devalue the lots and homes he wants to build around the farm, and that the opinion of his friends and neighbors is that this piece of land is the wrong place for a solar farm. We’ll help him find another place to do it. Some place better.” Thereafter everyone agreed to let Camman and Fairchild speak to Collins as soon as possible.

Other agenda items included a discussion on the demolition of the building that housed the Benson Gallery on the Montauk Hwy, a debate on the merits of the historic districting of Bridgehampton, a report on the Vintage Vines development off Scuttlehole Road which is currently undergoing an environmental review, revised plans for a wellness center in the Bull’s Head Inn, and the creation of a volunteer team to revise Bridgehampton’s out-dated hamlet study. In reference to the Bull’s Head Inn plans, Camman joked that he must be in some sort of time warp since he remembers the CAC disapproving of the same exact plans a few years back.

The next Bridgehampton CAC meeting will take place at the Bridgehampton National Bank on Monday, January 28th.

At top, a detail of proposed solar-powered farm on Ocean Road featuring a solar panel “reflecting pool.”


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