Southampton City Council votes to withdraw Hampton Bays Town Center Overlay District cancellation appeal
Southampton City Council has voted unanimously to formally withdraw the city’s appeal against the court’s ruling on the Section 78 trial which struck down controversial legislation in the City Center Overlay District of Hampton Bays.
Filed by Hamlet resident Gayle Lombardi in 2020, the legal proceeding sought to overturn the vote creating the district, which, if passed, would “stuff” – her word – 13 square miles of projected development for the Hamlet into the 45 acres of land, approximately from Springville Road in the west to the vicinity of Ponquogue Avenue and Squiretown Road in the east, and from Good Ground Road in the south to Good Ground Park in the north, the boundaries of the overlapping district.
In his ruling, State Supreme Court Justice Joseph Santorelli cited deficiencies in the state’s environmental review and a gap in determining the density of the proposed new zoning district.
The city appealed the decision and hired the consulting firm Nelson Pope Voorhis to redo the environmental works. But controversy swirled and community enmity escalated after the contract was signed. He understood language that spoke of “neutralizing” opposition by portraying it in a negative light.
Southampton Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman had signed it; faced with the inflammatory language, he said he never saw this attachment to the boilerplate contract. The news broke just as the local civic association scheduled a community meeting to debunk “misinformation” about the overlay district.
A passionate crowd filled the auditorium at Hampton Bays High School. NPV withdrew from work on the project. The supervisor promised to work “hard” to restore public confidence.
Schneiderman promised a fresh start by hosting informal “listening sessions” open to the public throughout October. Community members asked him: Isn’t it dishonest to say “fresh start” while continuing the litigation?
He predicted, repeatedly, that the city would likely stop pursuing the appeal.
At the November 9 city council meeting, with every council member signing on as co-sponsors, the resolution passed unanimously. The resolution reads, in part, “Given the controversial nature of such rezoning legislation, a desire to authentically re-engage community members in an ongoing thoughtful process and to conduct broader outreach, seeking to better reflect collective desires. of the community… Southampton City Council hereby withdraws the notice of appeal.
With the resolution put on the table as a “pledge” or last-minute measure added to the Nov. 9 agenda, Schneiderman offered, “The city worked very hard to come up with what we thought would revitalize downtown. city, would lead to investments that would improve the community based on the contribution of the community.
The judge “rejected,” he said, Santorelli asking city officials to review aspects of the legislation before reapproving it. During that process, he said, officials learned that the community — and not just a handful of NIMBYs — had concerns about various aspects of the overlay district.
“In an effort to really start from scratch and work with the community and fix all of these issues, it looks like the end product we’re aiming for now is different from the product we originally approved,” Schneiderman said.
Mentioning listening sessions and a soon-to-be-released hamlet-wide survey, he signaled his intention to begin meeting with small focus groups.
“I feel like things are going in a positive direction, a direction that’s not quite the same,” he concluded, saying now is the time to stop wasting time. and money trying to reverse the overlay neighborhood cancellation.
“It wipes the whole slate clean,” said Councilman Rick Martel, a Hampton Bays resident and business owner. “I think that’s a huge step.”
“I commend the city council for unanimously passing a resolution to withdraw the appeal of the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down the HBDOD forms-based code,” Lombardi said. “I hope this is the first step in a City Council commitment to a transparent, inclusive and effective process that will result in a sustainable plan.”