The Southampton Town Planning Board on Thursday, August 23, asked for a roughly one-month extension to issue its final findings statement — a summary of conclusions on the environmental effects — required before a variance can be considered to allow the expansion of the Southampton Day Camp in North Sea.
Camp owner Jay Jacobs, who is the chairman of the Nassau County Democratic Party, is seeking a variance for a change of use from a tennis club to a day camp on his 17-acre stretch of land along Little Fresh Pond. The property, which has been grandfathered as a pre-existing, non-conforming, yet allowable use, is located off of Majors Path and is currently operating as a day camp. The change could allow more children to attend the camp.
Planning Board Chairman Dennis Finnerty requested his board members review the final environmental impact statement and draw up comments over the next three weeks. Once the Planning Board issues its findings statement, the application will be forwarded to the Zoning Board of Appeals.
Wayne Bruyn, the attorney for the project, said a previous extension was granted who weeks earlier. “We gave you the extension, so you could accomplish that. My client, at this point, is very disappointed and will not give his consent any further to any further delays,” he said.
About a dozen North Sea residents sat in the audience in opposition to the expansion, many of them from the Little Fresh Pond Association, a civic group concerned with the water quality of the Little Fresh Pond. Many of them carried red placards with black lettering stating “Save Little Fresh Pond,” others wore large white stickers featuring frogs with the phrase, “Save Our Pond, Save Our Community.”
Jim Silber, one of the Little Fresh Pond Association’s vice presidents, said the “key” to the project is that in 2012, when the town’s Zoning Board of Appeals issued its findings, there weren’t any school buses traveling along the roadway to and from the site, affecting traffic. The site was an adult tennis club and people came in their own cars and children were dropped off separately from the adult members of the club, he said.
“This is something completely different from the baseline activities in 2012, when the zoning board determined what the use of that property was,” he said, noting again that the property had a pre-existing, non-conforming use. “That’s a very special use. That can’t be changed when someone buys a property and decides they want to change it. You know, they had a deli there and they buy the property there and want to build a grocery store. You can’t do that,” he said.
Agneta Orelans said she feared the board would put off its decision until nearby residents — many of whom only reside in the hamlet during the summer — return to their winter homes. “I feel very strongly about this. I can’t believe it’s got as much stalling as it has until now,” she said. Orleans said she came to the meeting to oppose the project because she is concerned about the water quality.
“I don’t want to see hundreds of little kids covered with sunscreen and covered with insect repellant, and peeing in the lake,” she said, noting she is “very upset” about the prospect of the camp’s expansion, and that the pond is “pristine.”