Southampton Town Board Rejects “the Hills” in East Quogue

Southampton Town Hall

The controversial plan known as the Hills, a luxury resort golf course development in East Quogue that would have relied on planned development district (PDD) guidelines, found just two supporting votes from among the five-member Southampton Town Council on Tuesday, which axed the plan.

A PDD is a route toward development that allows builders to offer community benefits such as affordable housing or historic preservation in exchange for a flexible planning process that increases use of the land.

“After today, this matter will be closed and the board will move on to focus on many other issues and considerations,” Southampton Town supervisor Jay Schneiderman said in a statement. “Although this project enjoys majority support from the board, it lacks the super majority needed for a PDD. … The property owners will now weigh their options including as of right development proposals for this property. Our offer to preserve the property, I hope, will remain on the table.”

Southampton Town recently repealed its PDD law, “recognizing that the law itself had become toxic,” but the town council had decided to process the last remaining PDD case, the Hills.

“The community began to see this dialogue as prone to political influence, with the developers the big winners and the community getting shortchanged,” Mr. Schneiderman said. “The PDD law was undermining public confidence in the town’s planning and zoning functions, creating the perception that zoning was somehow for sale.”

Mr. Schneiderman, who had voted in favor of the Hills based on what he referred to as “facts and independent analysis [that] support this alternative over the existing permitted land use,” assured the community that “your voices were heard.”

“I realize that the final vote will leave some celebrating and others disappointed,” he said. “I hope sincerely that we move forward as one community working together for the common good and that we respect each other’s opinions even when they differ from our own. Together we still have many issues to discuss and problems to solve.”