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Eco-Farm Proposal Concerns Neighbors

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As the town of Southampton continually looks at alternative energy sources for building construction, at least one developer in Bridgehampton is finding ways to reduce the carbon footprint by designing a fully sustainable farm equipped with a windmill and solar paneling in the fields.

Last Thursday, the Southampton Town planning board held a public hearing for the property at 501 Ocean Road. The public hearing was concerning the construction permit and special exception application for the construction of a 3,068 square foot barn, a 2,268 square foot greenhouse along with a windmill and solar paneling in the fields on the 13.2-acre agricultural reserve, which is part of a six-lot subdivision.

The applicant, FDHFZ LLC, is asking for permission to add these structures in the hopes of creating a sustainable organic farm. Representative for the applicant, Kyle Collins of KPC Planning Services of Westhampton, showed the Southampton Town Planning Board a video simulation of what the property would look like with the additional structures and how it will function with the alternative energy sources.

Collins said that the proposal is to farm the site with a possible apple orchard, flowers and switch grass for the production of 100 percent organic products using only renewable energy components such as wind and solar power. Collins also told the board that the products will be grown for commercial use, but with only 13-acres to work with, it is not expected that the farm will be producing large quantities of these items.

“The intention is to generate all the power you need on site,” Collins explained on Thursday.

“I am in full favor of sustainable agriculture,” said Helene Mahoney, a neighbor of the proposed farm. “But I don’t know whether to be pleased or frightened about this new development.”

Mahoney expressed concerns about noise pollution and well water pollution at her home. She told the board that the applicant has proposed a loading dock, and explained that the dock would add more traffic and noise. Mahoney also expressed concern over the addition of a fence around the property. She added that an existing 10-foot fence around a Peconic Land Trust property along Ocean Road is similar to that at a penitentiary and ruined a potential real estate purchase adjacent to the property. Mahoney said that if this applicant constructs a similar fence around the property, it could be a potential deal-breaker for her property or others that border it.

“The loading dock is right outside my dining room table,” added neighbor Georgia Rose. Rose also said that it would be nearly impossible not to include a fence around the perimeter of the proposed farm because the developers will need something to keep the deer off the property, which she said will be attracted to the flowers.

“It’s a beautiful plan – but it’s in the wrong place,” Rose said.

Rocco Lettieri, the designer of the sustainable farm, said that the loading dock area can be changed and informed the board that if a fence is necessary, he would like to propose one that exists in the middle of two hedges, so it could be hidden from the neighbors.

The hearing was closed, but has been left open for a 30-day written comment period.

 

Vintage Vines

 

Also on Thursday, the planning board held a scoping session for the proposed 37-lot Vintage Vines subdivision, located along Scuttle Hole Road near Channing Daughters Vineyard in Bridgehampton.

The 48.6-acre property is being proposed for subdivision by owner Dennis Suskind, and is listed in the Town of Southampton as a Community Preservation Fund priority parcel.

Thursday’s scoping session was the first step in the Comprehensive Environmental Review, required by the State Environmental Quality Review Act.

Group for the East End’s Jenn Harnagel attended the meeting to express her concerns over the proposed development. Harnagel argues that the property is an essential habitat for the endangered species of the Eastern tiger salamander. Harnagel urged the board to consider buying the property through the Community Preservation Fund and notified them that the 37 lots, if developed with their respective septic systems, will have a negative environmental impact on the surrounding community.

The board is allowing three weeks from the date of the meeting for any written comments.