The State of New York and the Central Pine Barrens Joint Planning and Policy Commission have reached a settlement with the Hampton Hills Golf and Country Club over its construction of a golf cart storage building without prior permission.
The Long Island Central Pine Barrens - more than 100,000 acres in central Suffolk County - is protected by the 1993 Long Island Pine Barrens Protection Act.
The Commission oversees its land use with regulations such as a designation of a Core Preservation Area, which requires entities to apply and receive a waiver from the Commission before developing on the land.
Between January and May of 2015, Commission staff observed unapproved construction by the Westhampton Beach golf club in the core area, according to a press release from the attorney general’s office. In June of that year, the golf club applied for the necessary waiver after beginning development, according to the settlement.
Last August, the Commission sought the help of New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who filed a lawsuit against the club in December in State Supreme Court in Suffolk County.
In a press release, Schneiderman said: “Long Island’s Pine Barrens are one of New York’s crown natural resource jewels – home to thousands of plant and animal species, and essential to ensuring clean, healthy drinking water for millions of Long Island residents. The owners of the Hamptons Hills Golf Course chose to ignore the law protecting the Pine Barrens, and this settlement holds them accountable.”
On July 19, 2016, a settlement was signed by both representatives from the state and golf club. The settlement includes a fine of $75,000 to be paid over the course of about two years and permission to keep the golf cart storage building intact as long as certain provisions are met such as staying within the existing footprint.
“This settlement sends a clear message that neither the Attorney General’s office nor the Pine Barrens Commission will tolerate a ‘build first, apologize later’ approach to development in the Core Preservation Area of the Pine Barrens,” Long Island Pine Barrens Society executive director Richard Amper said in a press release.