ZBA decision likely to wind up in court

Discovery Land Gets Its Golf Course

The Southampton Town Zoning Board of Appeals approved the Discovery Land Company’s proposal to build a luxury housing development and private golf course in East Quogue on Thursday, November 15 — a decision that will almost surely be challenged in court.

At issue is the 18-hole golf course that is billed as a private recreational amenity for those who purchase one of the 119 residential units on the almost 600-acre property off Spinney Road in East Quogue.

With board member Helene Burgess and chairman Adam Grossman voting no, the proposal passed by a 5-2 majority.

Cornelius Kelly, a board member, read from a pre-written decision. In the end the majority of the board felt the application was allowable under their interpretation of a Planned Residential District, or PRD.

The decision for the most part mirrored attorney Wayne Bruyn’s arguments advanced during the extended review of the project. Bruyn, representing Discovery, offered other examples of residential golf courses in Southampton Town, including one in Bridgehampton and a nine-hole course in North Sea, and also across the country. “They are so commonplace that Wikipedia offers the defined term ‘golf course community,’” Kelly read.

The Southampton Town Board previously turned down an application from Discovery to create a Planned Development District.

Discovery offered a number of enticements to sweeten the package, including purchasing 33 acres nearby for preservation and upgrading the septic system at the East Quogue School District. Those incentives were withdrawn after the PDD was rejected by a 3-2 margin and Discovery sued the town.

Environmental groups opposed to the creation of a golf course on the property will likely test this decision in court: those include the Group for the East End and the Long Island Pine Barrens Society.

Grossman told The Independent before the vote he expected legal action regardless of which way the board voted. Carolyn Zenk, an attorney representing neighbors opposed to the project, parried with Bruyn repeatedly during the course of the proceedings.

She said Chapter 330 of the town code, which reads: “all unlisted uses are prohibited” applied to golf courses. Listed uses include residence uses, residential community facilities, general community facilities, business uses, industrial uses, and accessory uses. Bruyn said that interpretation of the town zoning code is erroneous and has been rejected by multiple courts.

rmurphy@indyeastend.com