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Town Board Adopts Planned Development District Changes

After months of discourse and public comment, residents laud town board effort.

After seven public hearings and months of community input, the Southampton Town Board voted unanimously Tuesday to adopt reforms to planned development districts.

A planned development district is a zoning tool that allows greater density on a parcel than is allowable by current zoning in exchange for a community benefit. Members of civic, environmental and business organizations came forward at Tuesday’s public hearing urging the board to adopt the legislation.

Highlights of the PDD reform include enhanced participation, such as a pre-submission public hearing and citizens advisory committee representation on a PDD oversight committee to be established for the life of each approved project. Also included in the changes are early referrals to advisory boards and established time frames.

Community benefits are addressed, with clarification regarding what is not a community benefit, and a documented list of hamlet-specific community benefit priorities.

Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst kicked off the discussion by saying the step-by-step process has been a healthy one, engaging a wide spectrum of community members.

“Land use policy is perhaps the most important responsibility we have as town board members, because the manner in which our community is developed informs every aspect of our way of life, from traffic to taxes, environmental health to economic sustainability,” Throne-Holst said after the hearing, adding that PDDs are the “number one” issue she has been asked to address.

At Tuesday’s hearing, Hampton Bays resident Eve Houlihan expressed lingering concerns with the legislation, including “ambiguity” and “purposefully vague” language relating to community benefits.

Overall, residents lauded the board for their efforts and embraced the legislation.

“The town board did it the right way, to the best logical end,” Bob DeLuca, the president of the Group for the East End, said. DeLuca presented the board with a final letter of support signed by approximately 1,800 residents and community organization representatives.

He added the nine items comprising the amendments are “a significant step forward.” The legislation, he said, improves procedures for applications, submission and review and allows for early public participation.

Wayne Bruin, an attorney for several landowners with PDD applications past and present, thanked the board. “What you have is product that does provide some certainty to landowners. Are we absolutely happy? There are a couple of things we could be critical about, but it’s a good compromise.”

Andrea Spilka, the president of the Southampton Town Civic Coalition, added, “No one got everything they wanted. But what we got was something really important for Southampton Town. This is a major step forward for all of us – the best possible move forward.”

David D'Agostino May 12, 2011 at 12:52 PM
There is way too much celebration of some very modest, ill-defined changes to the PDD legislation including still vague community benefit language. When PDD applicants thank the board, you have to question the policy.
Bob Schepps May 13, 2011 at 01:26 AM
I believe that keeping the PDD creates opportunities for both the community and developers. It is a vaguely defined tool for properties that are problematic and should only be used to the benefit of the community. It is now up to our elected officials to set the bar high enough and to maintain the highest standards for the future consideration of PDD's. There should be NO question as to what the public benefit will be from the very start, not as an add on to the negotiation. NO coming back for "changes" or second thoughts.

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