Tag Archive | "planning"

Proposed 37 lots draws fire in Bridgehampton

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Today, Thursday, there will be a scoping session for the proposed subdivision of 48 acres in Bridgehampton known as Vintage Vines LLC. The property is located off Scuttle Hole Road, near Channing Daughters vineyard. Dave Wilcox, Southampton Town Planning Director, said that the board gave the 37-lot subdivision preliminary approval over the summer and the next step is the final application.
The Group for the East End has been asking for preservation of the proposed development property. In a document submitted in May, the Group states that the property is included in the Community Preservation List of Priority Parcels and is classified as priority for the open space/Greenbelt areas. The Group also argues that the preservation of the parcel would ensure a large block of valuable, contiguous open space because the property is adjacent to previously preserved land along its southwest border. According to the document, the project’s applicant, Dennis Suskind, has expressed interest in possible preservation options for the parcel.
In February, Harry S. Ludlow, Chairperson of the Southampton Town Conservation Board, gave a report to the board stating that the land is also recognized as a critical habitat for the New York State Endangered Tiger Salamander. In his review, Ludlow said that in this area, there are at least 24 records of breeding tiger salamander populations. Ludlow reported that tiger salamanders have been documented as occurring in sizeable numbers and as successfully breeding in a widely scattered assemblage of small ponds and kettle holes.
“In the central region of Bridgehampton, where the 48.6 acres Vintage Vines tract is located, the gradual elimination of habitat for the species is a particularly pressing concern,” Ludlow said in his report. The area, he said, includes some of the most significant breeding populations of the tiger salamander on Long Island and New York State.
The Sag Harbor Citizens Advisory Committee also weighed in. The group sent a letter in January asking about the opportunities for affordable housing within the project. John N. Linder, chairperson, wrote urging the board to consider making 20 to 25 percent or more of the lots affordable.
The Bridgehampton Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC) also sent a letter to the town in February, requesting that affordable housing be considered for the subdivision. Members Jeffrey Vogel and Peter Terry asked in their letter for a provision for a portion of the lots to be sold at below market rate to allow middle class residents to remain in the community.
“We at the CAC are concerned that the very members of the community that we most depend on, our firemen, farmers, EMT workers, and teachers, can no longer find affordable housing,” read the letter.
The CAC members argue in the letter that the only affordable housing in Bridgehampton is the recent project at the Huntington Crossways, and if there were no affordable housing, the community would become a 100 percent second home community.
The letter also asked that at a bare minimum, the planning board prevent any access roads from becoming through roads in the existing subdivision.
“We are overburdened with traffic and the addition of another few hundred vehicles per day will heavily burden this already heavily traveled area.”
The Southampton Town planning department has received 20 letters from abutters and/or neighbors regard the application. At the last public hearing, other issues, as summarized by Southampton Town Planning Director, Kyle Collins, are trail connectivity, road connectivity, road construction, road design, landscaping and neighbors against through roads for Hampton Court, Barn Lane and Pond Lane.

Unfulfilled Expectations

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For those of us who have been following the saga surrounding the future of our Main Street and the viability of our unique mom-and-pop business community, this week’s forum with the National Historic Trust’s Main Street Program was a highly anticipated event. Unfortunately it hardly lived up to the expectations many of us in Sag Harbor had, and provided very little in the way of tangible concepts or tools for what has emerged as an issue seemingly everyone is ready to tackle.

 Tuesday night’s forum principally felt like a sales pitch by the National Historic Trust. More time was spent discussing the history of this organization and tools used in other communities – and even those tools were quite abstract – rather than Sag Harbor’s specific concerns or dilemmas. Precise questions were asked, and not truly answered with anything solid.

We wanted concrete ideas – and ideas at the very least slightly tailored to our village. By the end of the forum, it was clear very little in the way of research had been done about the specific climate and threats our village is facing, which is both a shame and an opportunity lost.

Ultimately, if marketing, festivals, organization and a shop-locally campaign is what is needed to save our Main Street, we do not believe we need the National Trust to fulfill these goals. We have a community – a feisty group at that – that has shown immense passion to keep this place special and is willing to fight to that end. The solutions we need are not making our facades prettier or mounting a winter festival; but how members of a business community with frequently different goals and agendas — at times at cross purposes — and how an increasingly divergent residential community — which is also frequently at odds with the business community — can find common ground and consensus. And how to solve problems that are even more complex, like managing growth in a small town that has become threatened by its own popularity.

Save Sag Harbor, the not-for-profit who organized this event, did their due diligence in exploring this option and bringing the National Trust to Sag Harbor through their own financing. We still commend them for this effort, and must note the bright spot during the meeting was we all began talking about our concerns together in what felt like the first community-wide meeting in quite some time.

We would advocate Save Sag Harbor take this beginning step towards creating dialogue between all factions of the community – some quite opposed to the ideas of the others – and set up a series of community forums on this issue so we may keep the conversation going. 

Taking the Long View

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As a village, we in Sag Harbor are fortunate to be home to a number of civic and social organizations that rally, sometimes rabidly, around chosen causes, ideally serving our community as educational and communal resources for our very active residents.

Sometimes they are successful in this common endeavor. Sometimes they are not.

True success, we think, is found when these organizations provide real, substantive dialogue that informs the public in order to further our community — not misinforms in a show of zealotry.

Since its creation, we have watched with curiosity what the folks at Save Sag Harbor would do with their enormous popularity and financial support. The not-for-profit’s membership is in the thousands, nearing numbers reached by established not-for-profits on the East End who have been around for over a decade.

But membership numbers and resolutions do not equal action, which is why over the course of the last three months we have been more than pleased with how Save Sag Harbor has evolved into a community organization with some real teeth.

Save Sag Harbor has put its money where its mouth is, unveiling a planning compendium meant to educate the public and complement the village’s own zoning code revision. It came out in support of the restoration of the former Bulova Watchcase Factory – a decision we understand was not easy, nor popular in some factions of the community – after measured thought and debate on its own mission in the village.

Perhaps the most exciting development is the announcement of the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s Main Street Program forum at the close of this month. This is a creative, worthwhile concept to stimulate dialogue about an issue everyone in Sag Harbor seems willing to get behind – preventing our village from being swallowed whole in the name of national brand development and preserving the historic character of this special place.

Most important, and laudable, is the way Save Sag Harbor has chosen to chart its course with a deliberate goal of creating dialogue and seeking what is possible, without heavy handed mandates and decrees. We hope they continue this philosophy as the organization continues its evolution.

Save Sag Harbor seems to be taking the long view in its decision making process – a view not easily taken when trying to tackle emotional and difficult issues. We commend its board for their leadership. Whether or not we actually save Sag Harbor, we are at least pleased to have Save Sag Harbor in it.