Reasons to Rezone

The Issue
is not should it be rezoned, it is not can it be rezoned,
it is will it be rezoned.

Land which is not in a hamlet center, is not in a halo zone, is not served by public water or sewer, and is not eligible for transfer of development rights, should not be zoned for high density development.
 

The proposed development is monstrous - The North Fork is not Texas! “Heritage at Cutchogue”, a proposed high density development covering almost four dozen acres will be inconsistent with the rural nature and small scale size of Cutchogue Hamlet and Southold Town. Southampton Town limits senior citizen housing developments to 75 units. Heritage at Cutchogue is double that size.

Land shortage - There is only a limited amount of undeveloped land left on the North Fork. That land should be used to develop afforadable started homes and senior residences, not high density luxury homes. There is very little time left for the Town Board to act. If we wait it will be too late.

Heritage at Cutchogue will raise taxes - Condominium owners receive a tax break by New York State law. The restriction to residents over 55 years old will only lessen the impact on school taxes if the condominiums are not purchased by local people. If local residents move into the Heritage, school age children may move into the houses they move out of. 140 new residences populated by people who choose to live in an age segregated neighborhood will make it harder to pass school budgets. Most of school budgets are not subject to voter approval. The optional funding which can be eliminated by voters often supports the best school programs. Residential developments, especially condominiums, cost more in tax-paid services than they produce in tax revenue.

Preservation is the best investment - The first step towards preserving instead of developing this property would be for the Town Board to request a review by the Southold Land Preservation Department. This property could be eligible for Community Preservation Fund financing based on any one, or a combination, of the goals of preservation of farmland, preservation of an historic scenic vista, and environmental protection of a prime groundwater recharge area. Financing may be available from the Southold Town farmland purchase bill and from the Suffolk County Drinking Water Protection Program, both approved in the fall of 2007. Although the Town Board has promised to consider partial preservation, no action has been taken.

Water Shortage - Despite the governmental sounding name, Suffolk County Water Authority has been keeping the fact that there is a shortage of clean fresh water on the North Fork quiet. SCWA has started importing water into Southold Town from the deep aquifers under the Long Island mainland. The explanation that the water is needed to supply existing customers and will not be used to support new residential developments is incredible. The reliance on an agreement as to where water mains can be installed to limit development is misplaced, especially since the current practice is to build first and to figure out where to get a supply of water later. Despite assertions by SCWA that new sources of water supply will not have significant environmental impacts, resonable people realize that the growth inducing impacts of additional water supply sources are likely to result in negative impacts from increased wastewater and other effects of higher and denser population. Neither Suffolk Times nor Southold Town government appear to know what is happening.

Now is the wrong time to start building - A quarter of a century ago (in 1983), at the request of the owner and based on the lie that there would be no significant environmental impact, the property was down-zoned for high density housing. The Planning Board denied an application for site-plan approval in 1985. If high density zoning was reasonable a housing development would have been built long ago. The health of the natural environment of Southold Town has deteriorated to a historic low point. The recently booming real estate market has stopped booming.

We have the power and a duty - The developer has no "right" to the current high density zoning. Unlike building permit applications, site plan applications require public hearings and approval is not a property right. Even if a proposed development is within the restrictions of the zoning code, zoning law provides for the possibility that zoning will be changed after a site plan application is filed. Often developers negotiate an option to buy and if they do not get approval they do not purchase the property. The risks of an application being denied are a part of the development business. The legal authority is well established. The political obligation of the Town Board Members is not based on the identity and quantity of citizens who signed petitions to have this property rezoned, it is based on the fact that the zoning does not protect the health, safty and welfare of the public.

It is our job - Government is the people’s business, yet in Southold Town less than half of registered voters even bother to vote. If Southold Town Board, Planning Board and the Southold Town Planning Department are doing their jobs, they are encouraging and facilitating citizen participation in local land use regulation. For our system to work effectively it is essential for town residents to be involved in Planning, legislative and application review procedures. “My job” is not only to do what I have to, it is to do whatever I can!

The proposed development will negatively impact aesthetics - Cutchogue Hamlet is known as the heart of the farming heritage of the East End of Long Island. The East side of the primary agricultural gateway to Cutchogue Hamlet Center, Depot Lane, is already filled with Mc Mansions. The proposed development will deteriorate the historic vista on the West side of Depot Lane. Farming is still a visible presence in Cutchogue, lets keep it that way!

The cumulative impact is unknown - Contrary to prevalent misconceptions, a cumulative impact is not the combination of impacts resulting from development of one property. Cumulative impacts are the combinations of impacts of development of several properties. Such impacts are essentially long term, it is difficult to judge them in the present, but the alternative is living with damage for longer than the forseeable future. It will be unfair to other property owners if one development is allowed to consume all the remaining available resources.

It is all about money - The proposed development will not meet the needs of seniors and will not provide a significant amount of affordable housing. The developer is working to maximize his profit, even if his profits come at the expense of substantial losses to other property owners and residents.

Affordable it is not - Just because housing is called affordable does not make is so. 10% of the units on the proposed development will be price controlled. But, will they be truely affordable? Purchase price is only one measure of affordability. If the lower prices of the 14 affordable units are achived by increasing the prices of the 125 "market rate" houses, doesn't that mean the overall impact of the development will be to decrease affordability?

The entity that has no identity - The developer is unidentified. After thorough inspection of the file and several inquiries, it is not clear who is applying for a development permit or what their authority is based on. If we don’t even know who we are dealing with, we should not even strart negotiating with them. This, and all the other issues with the “Heritage at Cutchogue” application are symptomatic of Southold Town Planning and development regulation in general. There is presently unprecedented pressure to profit from development of land in Southold. The developers are well fundeed and organized, citizens are relying on unfounded promises of representation by elected officials. Who represents nature?

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