Subdivisions irk Sagaponack community

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Nearly three dozen residents—the largest turnout ever for a Sagaponack Village Board meeting—attended public hearings Monday on three new subdivision proposals.

Those in attendance repeatedly returned to the theme of preserving Sagaponack’s historic open vistas and farmlands while addressing board members.

The subdivision that drew the most concern is proposed for a 17-acre oceanfront parcel at 150 Gibson Lane. Jay Bialsky purchased the property last May for $19 million and plans to divide it into six house lots, three on the ocean and three to the north side of the parcel. He intends to preserve the scenic farmland views on the central acres in an agricultural reserve.

Though preservation remains a priority for most residents, the town has been reluctant to purchase this property using the Community Preservation Fund due to the soaring cost of land. Purchasing the property would spare it from development indefinitely.

Mr. Bialsky’s attorney, Randall Weichbrodt, who had previously worked for the town’s CPF office, said the town had considered purchasing the property while he worked there.

Mayor Don Louchheim, who also serves as the chairman of the Planning Board, pointed out that the property remains on the town’s CPF target list.

Resident Tinka Topping suggested that the town consider purchasing individual lots in the subdivision, which average three acres, instead of the entire property. Neither the Planning Board members nor Mr. Weichbrodt know how much Mr. Bialsky is asking for the individual lots. Mr. Bialsky did not return calls for comment.

“This is the best plan you’re going to see on this parcel given the zoning we have today,” said Mr. Weichbrodt, referring to the proposed subdivision.

Roger Thayer asked board members if they could ensure that large agricultural buildings and tree farms are not built on the agricultural reserve. The village is drafting legislation that could limit the types of activities that are acceptable on agricultural reserves.

A second oceanfront subdivision at 451 Daniels Lane was also the subject of debate. The 43.5-acre property is owned by Sagaponack Realty LLC and the developers plan to subdivide it into four house lots and a 28.23-acre agricultural reserve.

The property runs along the end of Peters Pond Lane, which is a site of significant flooding. However, Joe Lombardi, who is representing Sagaponack Realty, said the water can be contained. Mr. Lombardi is a partner in the Raynor Group, an engineering consulting firm based in Water Mill.

“We know from living here that that [area] floods a lot,” said Roger Thayer, a resident of the village. Many residents in the room nodded their heads or voiced their agreement after he spoke.

“There’s major runoff,” said Charles Barbour, who added that the one landlocked house lot on the property would likely flood at some point. “When that becomes a house lot, where is the water going to go?”

Mr. Lombardi stated that much of the water that now collects at the end of Peters Pond Lane will drain into a swale on the agricultural reserve. He also said his clients plan to conduct a topographical study of the site before the permit process is complete.

Though Mr. Lombardi said that the town had not found wetlands on the property eight years ago, resident Myles Tintle echoed a chorus of neighbors who think the property should be reinspected for wetlands.

Planning Board member Alfred Kelman questioned whether the village could be held liable if it granted a permit for a house lot that is prone to flooding.

The third subdivision, if approved, will consist of nine house lots on 41.4 acres on the south side of Montauk Highway. The land is owned by the Schwenk Family Limited Partnership. Ken Schwenk, who owns the property, plans to place the house lots on the southern portion of the property with a 27-acre agricultural reserve abutting Montauk Highway.

Resident Loren Dunlap questioned whether the State Department of Transportation would allow a driveway for the proposed subdivision on Montauk Highway. Mr. Dunlap said he would like to influence the DOT to not place another curb cut along what he termed an “enormously dangerous stretch of Montauk Highway.”

Board members reminded the public that all of the applications are still in extremely preliminary stages, and there will be additional opportunity for examination of potential problems with the subdivisions and for community input.

The Planning Board has 60 days to prepare a report on the public hearing. Board members will most likely adopt the report at their June 16 meeting.

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