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Vintage Vines Back on Southampton Town Planning Agenda

Posted on 27 August 2010

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A proposed 37-lot subdivision on 48.6 acres in Bridgehampton will be back in front of the Southampton Town Planning Board this Thursday, with a public hearing slated for 7 p.m. on the preliminary subdivision application and a draft environmental impact statement for the proposed project.

The project – located west of the Bridgehampton-Sag Harbor Turnpike, south of Scuttlehole Road and east of Channing Daughters Winery – was proposed by former Southampton Town councilman Dennis Suskind and William Koral over two years ago and includes plans to dedicate 19.5 acres as open space, some of which is located in an old railroad spur that traverses the acreage.

The average size of each lot is proposed to be 30,024 square-feet.

Neighbors and The Group for the East End have spoken out against the subdivision, citing its proximity to the habitat of the endangered tiger salamander and density concerns, although project planner Kyle Collins has argued the project will link nature trails between Bridgehampton and the Long Pond Greenbelt.

According to Suskind, the project has been moved closer to Barn Lane to address the issue of the tiger salamander at the town conservation board’s suggestion. As of right, he added, they could seek to subdivide the property into 54 lots.

At a Bridgehampton Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC) meeting on Monday, August 23, the CAC discussed the project with Suskind after the planning board asked for its comments and in general seemed satisfied with the proposal.

“When I talked to the planning department they seemed happy,” said Bridgehampton CAC Chairman Fred Cammann, who noted it is a property zoned for residential development that he does not believe will impact traffic in a meaningful way.

Committee member Jeffrey Vogel added that while no one protested the plans, there were no neighboring property owners present at the CAC meeting.

Suskind agreed that neighboring property owners have had reservations about the project, wanting Suskind and Koral to donate the property or sell it to the town in lieu of development.

While traffic was raised as a concern, Suskind said he believed it was more an issue of a community not wanting to see neighboring property developed.

“I built a house here 30 years ago and I didn’t want anyone building next door to me,” he said, adding neighbors in the Hampton Farms subdivision live in a development similar to the one he has proposed.

“They have lived without having anyone on that property for a number of years and they want it to stay that way,” he said.

“If the integrity of the area was going to be changed I would object, but it is not going to be changed,” said Cammann. “It will be a wooded area and none of (the other subdivisions) have dedicated open spaces.”

Comparing the project to the sentiment that surrounded the construction of the Children’s Museum of the East End, Shira Kalish added, “We might not like 37 houses, but this is not changing the face of Bridgehampton.”

In other CAC news, Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst discussed the creation of a Bridgehampton erosion control district, which will connect with a similar district in Sagaponack.

“The way it works is we are looking at only oceanfront properties as being a part of the taxing district,” said Throne-Holst, noting that would comprise roughly 60 properties in the Bridgehampton district and 90 in Sagaponack.

Throne-Holst explained the town will first draw a map of the area and identify property owners before sending them a mass mailing about the concept. There will be a permissive referendum window, which means 30 days after being notified property owners can contest the creation of the erosion control district if they gather enough signatures from residents in the district, which would force the measure onto a ballot. If forced onto a ballot for public vote, Throne-Holst noted it would only be members of the proposed district that could vote on whether or not to create it.

Once created, Throne-Holst said the district could devise erosion control measures to protect their homes, including sand fencing or large scale erosion projects, which would be funded solely by the residents of the district, unless the town decides to add to its coffers for a project that would benefit the whole of the town.

Suskind added that the creation of this district is the only way the town can secure federal and state monies to address erosion. Throne-Holst noted the districts will be able to fund baseline studies that will benefit the town in gaining funding from the federal or state government in the wake of a nor’easter or storm that washes away the coastline.

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