Residents Air Concerns During Hearing On Sandy Hollow Cove Apartment Complex

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A handful of Tuckahoe residents voiced their disapproval of the Sandy Hollow Cove apartment complex to the Southampton Town Planning Board last Thursday night, September 11, during the first—and only—public hearing on the application’s site plan.

The project being pitched by developer David Gallo, president of Georgica Green Ventures LLC in Jericho, who owns the 2.6-acre property on Sandy Hollow Road in Tuckahoe, received unanimous approval in June from the Southampton Town Board for the creation of a planned development district, or PDD, which provides special zoning clearing the way for the project. However, the site plan for what will be the first multifamily workforce housing complex in the town targeting middle-income residents must still be reviewed and approved by the Planning Board.

The complex calls for the construction of 28 apartments—14 studios, a dozen one-bedroom apartments, and a pair of two-bedroom apartments—in three buildings measuring 8,478 square feet, 7,166 square feet and 5,160 square feet, respectively.

The largest of the three structures will house a dozen of the apartments and will be sited on the western corner of the triangle-shaped property. It also will house a recreation room and office space, according to the blueprints. The 7,166-square-foot building will face Sandy Hollow Road, be built on the southeast corner of the land, and house 10 apartments. The smallest building, which will be constructed near the middle-sized building and be separated by a breezeway, will feature six apartments. It will sit on the northeast corner of the property.

Community members asked the board to postpone last Thursday’s hearing, noting that since it was the 13th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, many people could not attend due to prior commitments. Noelle Bailey, a vocal critic of the project who lives nearby on Sandy Hollow Road, said she received multiple calls from neighbors asking her to plead with the board for a postponement.

“So many people went to memorial services, or wanted to be with family,” Ms. Bailey said during the hearing. “Is there any way to postpone or reschedule this?”

Another resident, Frances Genovese, echoed her statements. “I’m here to plea with you to try to save the town from a lawsuit,” she said. “This is a new plan, and it wasn’t given proper scrutiny. Keep the hearing open,” she continued. “People with significant input are not here, and people whose lives are going to be impacted are not here.”

Their requests were denied by Planning Board members, who would later close the public hearing and leave open a 10-day window during which it will accept only written comments regarding the site plan. The board will accept those comments until next Thursday, September 25; the 10-day window does not include weekends.

Planning Board Chairman Dennis Finnerty said while he understands the requests made by residents, he and his fellow board members were working under a tight schedule. Jacqui Lofaro, who sits on the board, explained that the procedures for PDDs do not allow much wiggle room, especially for a project like Sandy Hollow Cove that has been hotly debated for so long. “In terms of PDDs, we as a board don’t have much that we can do,” she said.

Mr. Finnerty explained that since the PDD was already approved by the Town Board, the Planning Board could only make adjustments to the site plan based on landscaping, waste management, parking and lighting.

The half dozen people who spoke at the hearing shared their concerns about the project’s on-site sewage treatment plant, traffic issues, and potential light and noise pollution.

Jon Kayne, who lives on Sandy Hollow Road, said he is most concerned for the safety of his two children, ages 2 and 4, due to the influx of traffic that is expected in front of his house. “There’s only enough parking spaces for about two cars per apartment, so what happens when they have guests?” he asked.

“Please take into consideration the homes around it,” Mr. Kayne continued. “In the fall and spring, when the trees are thin, the driveway runs right alongside my property.”

The 47-space lot exceeds the parking requirements for the complex, according to Mr. Gallo. He also said during the hearing that he will work with neighbors to address their concerns. He explained that the apartment complex will have a strict guest policy, which includes no barbecuing on their decks, and no consumption of alcohol in public.

“We will have open conversations with neighboring homeowners,” Mr. Gallo said. “We’ll work together on these concerns, but we do think we have adequate parking on the site.”

In addition to those concerns, Mr. Kayne and Ms. Bailey both said they were unhappy with the proposed exterior lighting for the complex, and noted that they will be inconvenienced by the headlights of cars entering and exiting the facility. Ms. Bailey, whose property also runs along the southwestern border of the property, said the line of trees that runs between the two properties is not thick enough to block out the lights from 28 apartments.

The Planning Board agreed, noting that a thicker vegetative buffer should be included in the final site plan.

Ms. Bailey then raised concerns about the proposed sewage treatment plant that will be located in the center of the horseshoe-shaped driveway and built in the middle of the property. Waste will be collected at the facility, stored and treated on-site, and then collected once a month, according to the developers. The collection process will take about an hour to complete, and they noted that odor treatment and emergency safeties are built into the system as well.

The Suffolk County Department of Health has already reviewed the sewage treatment plant and signed off on the technology. Still, those in attendance said they were still concerned about the risk of overflow and contamination to neighboring properties’ wells.

“It’s a major issue we haven’t really had a chance to discuss,” Ms. Bailey said.

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