Neighbors Take Fight Against Atlantic Golf Club Housing To ZBA

Signs on Scuttle Hole Road in Bridgehampton voice displeasure with the Southampton Town Planning Board's recent decision to approve the Atlantic Golf Club's application for a 16-bedroom worker housing building near Short's Pond. STEPHEN J. KOTZ

Even though the Southampton Town Planning Board approved the construction of a 16-bedroom workforce housing complex on property owned by the Atlantic Golf Club in Bridgehampton last month, a group of neighbors who oppose the project say they will fight on.

East Hampton attorney Brian Matthews, who represents the group, said in a release this week that he would ask the town Zoning Board of Appeals, which meets remotely next Thursday, January 20, at 6 p.m., to overturn a June 4 determination by the town’s chief building inspector that the complex was a legal accessory use of a golf course.

Matthews could not be reached for comment, but in the press release, he described the proposed housing as a 6,500-square-foot apartment complex/multi-family dwelling/transient motel on environmentally sensitive land near Shorts Pond off Scuttle Hole Road.

“From the moment this application was filed, it seemed apparent that it was being rushed through to an approval, notwithstanding the concerns raised by the neighbors to such aggressive development,” Matthews said. “Despite these stated concerns, the town’s Planning Board worked to limit the community’s participation by rushing the matter to an early public hearing despite the application being very clearly incomplete, and refusing to allow the public to comment on much of the applications’ particulars, including groundwater and surface water studies that the neighbors demanded.”

When the board held a hearing on the proposal last June, neighbors cited fears that the employees slated to live in the housing would be loud and rowdy. Plus, they cited concerns that the building would have negative impacts on the pond and argued that it would block the last remaining scenic view of the kettlehole ponds on either side of Scuttle Hole Road.

In approving the application, Matthews said the Planning Board “has simply acquiesced to Atlantic Golf’s desire to place the burden of this development on the neighbors and the community no matter how impactful or how out of character their development may be.”

Charles Bowman, an environmental consultant whose firm, Land Use Ecological Services, also represented neighbors, said he found the Planning Board’s approval of the housing puzzling.

Southampton Town allows on-site worker housing for restaurants and farms, he said, and the building inspector has ruled in the past that golf courses can be considered agricultural uses. But even then, there are mandatory setback requirements that haven’t been met, he said.

He said the building is supposed to be at least 200 feet from the property line when, in fact, it will be as close as 40 feet to the property of neighbor Maryann Gabriele. Bowman said there were plenty of other more suitable sites on the 200-plus-acre property.

Jane Held, who owns two waterfront lots on Shorts Pond, said the neighbors feel like “we are pushing a boulder up the hill against Atlantic” and accused the Planning Board of rushing the project through and ignoring valid concerns raised by neighbors.