The construction of a new golf course and 82 homes on 436 acres in northern East Quogue could also bring additional pollution to an already nitrogen-heavy watershed and feed damaging red and brown tides in nearby Shinnecock Bay, one scientist warned during the East Quogue Civic Association’s annual meeting on Saturday.
Dr. Chris Gobler, a professor with Stony Brook University’s School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences, discussed how the “The Hills at Southampton,” a proposed planned development district, or PDD, application now before the Southampton Town Board, could potentially damage the groundwater and local waterways.
The PDD, which is now in the pre-application phase, calls for a change of zone that would allow the DLV Quogue LCC and its Arizona-based partner group, Discover Land Company, to construct an 18-hole, 86.3-acre golf course on a property that stretches from near the intersection of Lewis and Old Country roads north past Sunrise Highway.
During Saturday’s meeting, which was attended by a few dozen people and held in the East Quogue Elementary School auditorium, Dr. Gobler outlined current issues with nitrogen levels in East Quogue and the Weesuck Creek watershed.
“Already we have some high levels of nitrogen in our groundwater,” Dr. Gobler said. “Where the hills are, the levels are currently quite low, but in and around there, the areas where we have development, the areas where we have agriculture, the levels of nitrogen are quite high … that’s baseline without anything changing.”
Al Algieri, president of the East Quogue Civic Association, said beyond the environmental issues, he is concerned with the increased traffic the golf course would bring, as well as the potential burden the additional housing could pose on the East Quogue School District.
According to the pre-application on file with the town, all 82 residences would be utilized as second homes and, therefore, are not projected to bring in additional students. The development, however, is expected to generate about $3.5 million in annual tax revenues for the school district. Current zoning would allow the developers to build 82 single-family homes on the property.
Mr. Algieri noted that the hamlet’s Southampton Pines residential development currently sends several dozen children to the elementary school though its developers also said prior to securing town approval that it would not do so. He also noted that DLV Quogue has been receptive to fielding questions and concerns, though representatives have not yet explained how they intend to ensure that no new children would enter the district.
“My concern has always been, one, traffic, and two, school taxes,” he said. “Those are two questions that we are in contact with the applicant today. We don’t have the full answers yet, but they’ve been cooperative in getting those.”