A Primary Challenge to Jay Schneiderman

Fred Havemeyer, who served as a Southampton Town trustee for more than 10 years, announced this week that he plans to challenge Supervisor Jay Schneiderman for the Democratic line in a September primary. Mr. Schneiderman is an Independence Party member who has been endorsed by the Democrats.

While he left the trustees in 2013, Mr. Havemeyer, a Bridgehampton resident, has not stayed out of Town Hall completely, speaking out in recent years against various planned development districts, including the Bridgehampton Gateway and the Tuckahoe Center. But it is the Hills at Southampton, a pending application for a subdivision and golf course in East Quogue, that led to his decision to run.

He did not screen with the Democrats this spring, but decided to run at the behest of the Long Island Environmental Voters Forum, a group opposed to the Hills. Mr. Havemeyer and the group share the concern that the project, proposed over a sole-source aquifer, would be a danger to the environment. He believes Mr. Schneiderman has postponed making difficult decisions.

“Jay, where are you, my friend?” Mr. Havemeyer said by phone on Tuesday. “You can’t govern by dithering, because what happens is the community is still in turmoil.”

Mr. Schneiderman took exception to that. “I don’t dither. I’m just careful. I do my homework,” he said by phone yesterday. “People who rush things, they unravel later on.”

The town board is awaiting an environmental impact statement, and there are statutory guidelines in place, Mr. Schneiderman said. “Fred wants to take advantage of the fact that I can’t ethically take a position on the Hills until the process concludes, otherwise it would be seen as bias.”

Mr. Schneiderman, a Southampton Village resident who owns residential and commercial property in Montauk, said his three-decade record as a county legislator and East Hampton Town supervisor proves that the environment has been, and will continue to be, his top consideration. In his recent state of the town address, he pledged to promote and protect the town’s natural resources.

“Jay is an outstanding steward of our environment and to suggest otherwise is not warranted,” said Gordon Herr, the chairman of the Southampton Town Democratic Committee.

“He’s a one-issue candidate. He wants to kill the Hills,” Mr. Schneiderman said of Mr. Havemeyer. “I’m not a single-issue candidate. . . . I’ve never just been about the environment,” he said, adding that his focus ranges from affordable housing to public transportation and traffic.

While both men agree that planned development districts — legislation that has been under review for the past year during a moratorium on new P.D.D. applications — need to go, Mr. Havemeyer took a shot at Mr. Schneiderman for not moving more quickly to repeal the law. The supervisor recently proposed a repeal, which is coming up for public hearing at the end of the month.

Again, Mr. Schneiderman said it was important to study the law first. “I make merit-based decisions, not emotional decisions.”

As a trustee, Mr. Havemeyer, a former sportfishing captain and fashion photographer, said he was committed to preserving the waterways, plagued by cyanobacteria, or blue-green algae. But no one is addressing overdevelopment, which is at the root of the problem, he said.

If elected, “I would do a nationwide search to find a really good planner who has experience with this type of situation and sit down and really work on it, really chew on the bone, to find out what we can do to bring Southampton Town back into balance,” he said.

Mr. Havemeyer has to collect 500 signatures to force a primary, which would be held on Sept. 12.

Correction: The primary is Sept. 12, not Sept. 18 as originally reported.