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The Hills developer sues Southampton for $100M over plan’s defeat

Southampton Town Councilman John Bouvier, left, who voted

Southampton Town Councilman John Bouvier, left, who voted against the project and is named in the lawsuit, at a March board meeting with Supervisor Jay Schneiderman. Credit: Gordon M. Grant

The developers behind a proposed seasonal East Quogue golf community have filed a $100 million lawsuit against Southampton Town, seeking damages for the town board’s denial of the project.

The lawsuit, filed in State Supreme Court on April 4 on behalf of plaintiffs DLV Quogue and other entities, challenges the town’s “unlawful and unconstitutional denial” of the proposal, which called for 118 seasonal units and a golf course. The lawsuit names the town and the town board, as well as Councilman John Bouvier and Councilwoman Julie Lofstad, who voted against the project in December.

With the vote 3 in favor and 2 opposed, the board did not reach the 4-1 supermajority needed to approve a mandatory zoning change for the project.

Arizona-based developer Discovery Land Co. had sought to have the property changed from mixed-use zoning to a planned development district, which would have granted special zoning regulations toa large-scale project in exchange for public benefits.

The suit alleges Lofstad and Bouvier’s “negative votes were irrational” and raised “groundless so-called environmental ‘concerns.’ ” It alleges their votes were “in direct conflict with the binding environment findings statement adopted by the town board.”

The suit claims their motive was to preserve the land as open space and drive down the market value in case the town chooses to acquire it via eminent domain. The suit contains an exhibit featuring a Facebook posting on behalf of Bouvier that reads, “My first choice is preservation.”

Bouvier and Lofstad declined to comment on the suit on Monday. Town Attorney James Burke could not immediately be reached for comment.

Two weeks after the project was rejected, the developers filed a pre-application with the planning board for a similar plan, one they said would not require town board approval or a zoning change.

It calls for 118 seasonal residential units, a private golf course and amenities. It also offers a substitute plan that would include 137 residential units for seasonal use with 13 year-round workforce housing units, but no golf course.

Discovery said it can build an 18-hole course as a “residential recreational accessory” open only to the residents of the units and can do so without a zoning change or town board approval.

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