The Southampton Town board voted 4-1 Tuesday to allow developers to craft an initial application for an 82-home subdivision and golf course in East Quogue, after residents and preservation groups criticized the proposal.
The application to create a Mixed Use Planned Development District would allow the developers, DLV Quogue LLC, to draw up a plan for the homes, golf course and 54,000-square-foot clubhouse, called The Hills.
It would also allow the town to demand mitigation actions -- such as a sewage treatment system -- and negotiate for community benefits in exchange for the rezoning, which officials said could increase the land's value of the land tenfold.
Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst said that while speakers at a public hearing Tuesday complained about potential noise and traffic and the possible impact on the school district, the town tried but failed to buy the 436 acres off Lewis Road. DLV offered 10 percent above the higher of two appraisals, but the town cannot legally pay more than the amount set by an appraiser, Throne-Holst said.
"We did all we could to preserve this property . . . our offer was rejected," she said. "They can build 80 homes there."
But, the supervisor added, the town could still stop the project if officials decide it would have too great an impact on the community.
Bridget Fleming, the only town board member to vote against the resolution, complained that the initial proposal includes only minimum preservation steps already required by town code.
Discovery Land Company of Scottsdale, Ariz., acquired the land in early 2012. Under its proposal, 280 acres would be left as open space, and the homes would be vacation retreats, restricted to prevent year-round occupancy and ensure that it would not add children to the local school district.
Former town Supervisor Patrick Heaney, an East Quogue resident who supports the proposal, said escalating real estate values means the property would be built on one way or another. "It's no longer a choice between preservation and development," he said.
A community forum on the zoning change proposal is being planned for next month at East Quogue Elementary School.