Status Update on “The Hills” (now “Lewis Road PRD”)

Lewis Road PRD development project proposed for the East Quogue Pine Barrens
The Hills is alive with the sound of music… but will it be for long?

As many of you know, the Long Island Pine Barrens Society has been fighting a massive development project proposed for the East Quogue Pine Barrens, for over seven years. We’ve joined other environmental and civic groups to fight the development of a project that contains 130 mansions, a professional 18-hole golf course, a clubhouse, pools, tennis courts, baseball fields, ponds, a sewage treatment plant, underground parking, storage tanks for fuel and more. If you’re unfamiliar with the history of The Hills, which is now the Lewis Road PRD, please check out our earlier blog post on the history of the subject.

Last Wednesday, August 19, 2020, the New York State Pine Barrens Commission held its final hearing on the project via Zoom. Members of our coalition, the Southampton Water Protection Alliance, provided expert testimony on the many problems associated with this project. The entire hearing can watched here. Opponents included: New York State Assemblyman Steve Englebright; Dr. Christopher Gobler, Professor at Stony Brook University; Bob DeLuca, President of the Group for the East End and his attorney, Claudia Braymer; Andrea Spilka, President of the Southampton Town Civic Coalition; Tom Ward, of the Long Island Chapter of the Sierra Club; and several local residents.

Here’s what our Long Island Pine Barrens Society staff had to say-

Watch the testimony of LIPBS Executive Director, Richard Amper, below.

And here’s LIPBS Deputy Director, Katie Muether Brown.

In addition, the Society submitted an 17-page report to the hearing record. The report outlined the many ways that this project has failed to meet the standards and guidelines of the Pine Barrens Act and its Comprehensive Land Use Plan. This project will greatly increase nitrogen and pesticide pollution into our groundwater and surface waters. This project fragments open space and destroys Pine Barrens habitat. This project has now expanded into the Critical Resource Area of the Pine Barrens, an area deemed essential to protect the habitat for the rare and threatened Coastal Buckmoth. Golf holes and a massive sewage treatment plant will be placed behind nearby homes. The development site will be seen from roadways, from local trails, and from neighbors. It is not consistent with development within the area. The applicant is proposing a country club in the middle of an area that is intended to serve as an important recharge and protection area for our drinking water aquifers. The requirements of the NYS State Environmental Quality Review Act have not been met. And more. Our full report can be read here.

What’s next? The Commission is expected to vote on the project at their September 16, 2020 meeting. The New York State Pine Barrens Commission has the most authority of development in the Pine Barrens. If the Commission determines that the proposed project does not conform to the Pine Barrens Act and Land Use Plan, the project as proposed cannot be approved. Stay tuned.

By: Katie Muether Brown, Long Island Pine Barrens Society

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