Little Fresh Pond, with the campground visible in the distance,...

Little Fresh Pond, with the campground visible in the distance, last December. Credit: Rachelle Blidner Credit: Newsday/Rachelle Blidner

The Southampton Town Planning Board decided Thursday, over the objections of several dozen neighbors, that a North Sea day camp owned by Nassau Democratic chairman Jay Jacobs would have little or no adverse impact on the environment.

Jacobs is seeking a zoning change to renovate the 17.8-acre Majors Path parcel, a former tennis camp, and codify operations as a full-service children’s day camp. The town’s zoning board of appeals handed the application to its planning board in 2012 for an environmental review of the project proposed for land adjacent to Little Fresh Pond.

The planning board was met with boos and shouts of “shame” from residents following Thursday’s 4-3 vote to accept a findings statement that concluded the application “is the one that avoids or minimizes adverse environmental impacts to the maximum extent practicable.”

The decision kicks the proposal back to the ZBA, which will now have to conduct its own review of the application.

“I think the board has done a careful study and complied with the law,” said Jacobs’ attorney, Wayne Bruyn.

Jacobs has operated the property, which he purchased in 2010 for $7 million, as a day camp for years. It had been run for decades as a tennis club with an accessory tennis camp, and needs a change-of-use variance to operate as a day camp, according to a 2012 ZBA ruling.

The dissenting planning board members — Glorian Berk, Robin Long and Jacqui Lofaro — cited competing hydrology reports, one submitted by the applicant and one by opposing neighbors, in their decision. Those reports had contradictory findings on whether groundwater under the camp flows into or from the pond.

Lofaro also noted the impact statement did not analyze the area’s “community character,” which neighbors say is a quiet, residential neighborhood that would be negatively impacted by noise, traffic and pollution from the camp.

“There is an involved and engaged and caring community, as they should be,” Lofaro said.

Planning board chairman Dennis Finnerty noted 22 homes could be built on the property should the town deny the application.

“Twenty-two additional houses is going to have a much more negative impact than the operation of a day camp,” said board member Philip Keith, who joined Finnerty, John Blaney and John Zuccarelli in voting to accept the environmental findings.

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