Sag Harbor Village’s plan to develop a small portion of a 24-acre parcel it owns in the Long Pond Greenbelt as an impound yard to safely store vehicles seized by village police deserves more than the cursory look the village first asked the Southampton Town Planning Board to give to it.
Village officials correctly refer to the site, where they want to grade, pave and fence in a 4,800-square foot area, as a former dump. But members of the Friends of the Long Pond Greenbelt, who have announced their opposition to the proposal, are equally correct in pointing out that the parcel is part of the Long Pond Greenbelt, where an assemblage of some 800 acres has been preserved to protect a rare coastal pond ecosystem.
Last week, the village acquiesced to a request that a public hearing be held in the matter, which is a good first step. Village officials should be given the opportunity to explain their proposal and the steps they will take to protect the environment. At the same time, opponents of the plan, who say they fear it might simply be the first of many steps toward the development of the site, deserve the opportunity to voice their concerns.
Kevin McDonald, a veteran of many development battles in his role with the Nature Conservancy, this week noted that the opportunity for a measured approach to development plans often flies out the window when the clock is ticking on an active application. He is right to suggest that both sides need to step back and have a conversation that addresses the legitimate needs of both the village and the greenbelt before rushing headlong down the current path.