In a split vote that stirred some dissent at the end, the Southampton Town Board voted 3-2 Thursday to consider for future discussion a zoning change application for a workforce housing and retail complex in Speonk that has sparked controversy.
What the vote means, according to Supervisor Jay Schneiderman, is that while no action was taken enacting or approving the project, it allows the zone change proposal for Speonk Commons, a housing project that would be built on 4.27 acres on the west side of North Phillips Avenue, to be submitted to the town for further review.
The motion, Schneiderman added, will allow the town’s planning department to analyze the development plans and for additional public comments on the zone change request.
The project’s co-developers, the Southampton Town Housing Authority and Jericho-based Georgica Green Ventures LLC, have requested a change of the zoning at the parcel to multifamily residential.
However, while the town board will consider the project, the motion specifies that the board “will not entertain” a request to extend the number of housing units beyond 38. The developers had previously called for 51 housing units to be constructed.
Council members Stan Glinka and Christine Scalera voted against the proposal.
“I’m not quite comfortable with where we are or have been in this process for the last couple of weeks,” Scalera said. “And as a result of the process alone, that is why I will not be supporting [the project].”
Glinka said he “did not appreciate” not being part of negotiations in speaking with residents in the Remsenburg-Speonk area. “I cannot in good faith support this, either,” he said.
Residents have opposed plans for the project, expressing concern about its size and the potential influx of people into town.
Philip Smyth, a Remsenburg resident and member of The Remsenburg Association, said the community group still opposes the developers’ change of zone request and is concerned going forward about what precedent the housing project would set in terms of further development in the area and the degree to which the town’s open spaces are protected.
Craig Catalanotto, a Speonk resident, said the amended project seemed like a “fair compromise,” but urged that officials put in place protections to prevent additional expansion.
“Our community is uniquely set up for overdevelopment,” Catalanotto said. “We need further protections to prevent density.”