East Quogue Building Ban Could Be Extended

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A two-year-long hamlet-wide moratorium in East Quogue that’s set to expire on May 11 will most likely be extended for another three months, allowing additional time for Southampton Town officials to review a recently completed environmental impact study of the area.

The Town Board will hold a public hearing to discuss the proposed three-month extension on Tuesday, April 22, at Town Hall.

The in-depth study, which has been running concurrent with the freeze on construction, was presented to Town Board members at a work session on Friday. An official presentation of the study, known as a Generic Environmental Impact Statement, or GEIS, will be held for residents at Town Hall on Tuesday, April 8. A final draft of the document was released last month.

The study, conducted by the Bohemia-based consulting firm Alee, King, Rosen and Fleming, Inc., at a cost of $187,750, recommends the preservation of the hamlet’s rural character through land acquisitions using the Community Preservation Fund. The report also discourages large residential subdivisions.

The study covers just over 4,000 acres in East Quogue and seeks to answer the question of how future development could change the character of the mostly rural area. This issue is a sensitive one as some 800 acres in the hamlet are large, undeveloped swathes of land.

Bob White, a representative of AKRF, detailed for the Town Board on Friday various aspects of his company’s study that advocates for limited residential construction, and farmland and open space preservation. The report also encourages an expanded industrial base, upgrading of the water supply, construction of an ancillary fire station, waterfront access with a commercial tax base and coastal habitat preservation.

“This is a 10-, 15-year plan,” Mr. White said. “But we want to keep the hamlet’s character. We want to keep Main Street a walk-to place.”

A priority for the community, according to the study, is the acquisition of the 94-acre Densieski farm and an 18 additional acres surrounding it. The 112-acre tract is located at the intersection of County Road 104 and Lewis Road—a critical scenic gateway. As this is an active farm, Mr. White suggests purchasing the development rights through the CPF.

“We’re not just talking about preservation here,” Mr. White said. “The idea is to keep this a working farm.”

The Densieskis could not be reached for comment.

To meet the hamlet’s future water needs, the study suggests allocating four acres near the pine barrens protection area for the installation of a well by the Suffolk County Water Authority. The increased demand for water, according to Town Supervisor Linda Kabot, is due in part to growing irrigation demands.

The recommended plan also dedicates to the East Quogue Fire Department two acres of town-owned property along Lewis Road, north of Damascus Road, for the construction of a substation. An emergency helipad could also potentially be built on the site.

In an effort to create a more diverse tax base in the hamlet, some 27 acres of the Hills of Southampton—a proposed subdivision that has been on hold during the moratorium—would be changed from residential zoning to accommodate an expanded light industrial center. Town Planning Director David Wilcox said this change also complies with the overall goal of the study—the protection of open space.

The largest planning sector of the study covers an estimated 170 acres in the heart of the hamlet. The report is encouraging the construction of 90 high-end residential units, a 125-acre private golf course, and a multi-use country club/conference center facility on the remaining 13 acres. Mr. White emphasized that the private golf course location is away from the core preservation area of the central pine barrens.

Under the plan, a parcel of land known as Lar Sal Realty, which is located north of the Long Island Rail Road tracks, would see a zone change from half-acre residential to 5-acre residential. The design preserves roughly 36 acres of open space on which 11 single-family units would be constructed. This site adjoins the Rosko farm, which is owned by Constantine Rosko, whose plans to construct 14 homes on 57 acres were stalled by the moratorium. Now, Mr. Rosko’s plans call for eight homes, which will preserve more open space.

The Turtle Bay property, in the southeast portion of the study area, should be rezoned to accommodate waterfront-related businesses, according to the study. Mr. White noted that structures prime for commercial establishments already exist on the site.

Mr. White—in addressing concerns raised by Ms. Kabot and other Town Board members—said there was potential for affordable housing, particularly in apartments to be constructed above businesses.

Above all else, Mr. White said he was most concerned about keeping the integrity of the hamlet in place. “We don’t want to change the identity of East Quogue,” he said.

Copies of the study are available to the public at the Quogue Library, the Southampton Town Clerk’s office, and can be accessed via the Southampton Town’s website. Copies can also be purchased for $104.

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