Sagaponack residents turned out on Monday in opposition to a proposal to construct a mansion at the corner of Daniel’s and Peter’s Pond Lanes rather than elsewhere on a 43.5-acre oceanfront parcel. At a Sagaponack Village Board hearing, they argued that the house would destroy the last unobstructed views from a public thoroughfare to the ocean dunes.
“I don’t care how much it’s tucked in . . . it will obstruct the now sweep to the ocean,” Linda Bird Francke, who lives nearby on Fairfield Pond Lane, said.
Marc Goldman owns the property at 451 Daniel’s Lane (listed under Sagaponack Ventures L.L.C.), which would be permitted to have four houses on it as well as farmland, which already has been set aside in a conservation easement.
Mr. Goldman’s house is to measure about 8,600 square feet with master and junior suites on the first floor, five bedrooms upstairs, and four bedrooms for the help in a separate wing, plus a 2,300-square-foot finished basement and a 2,400-square-foot three-car garage and cabana, complete with steam shower, massage room, and gym. A pool and tennis court are also planned, along with access from Peter’s Pond Lane, which has the approval of the Southampton Town Trustees, who own the road.
Since first proposed in August 2013, the applicant’s engineer worked with the village’s engineers to locate the house outside a drainage course and redesign it from what Mr. Goldman described in a letter to the village board on April 11 as “a sprawling structure to a narrow one that fits on the elevations outside of the drainage course.”
“No matter how well you design a house right at the corner of Daniel’s Lane and Peter’s Pond, going this way and that way, it’s going to be obtrusive,” Tinka Topping, who has lived on Daniel’s Lane for more than 50 years, said.
While it seems that Mr. Goldman, a Boca Raton, Fla., resident who said he plans to live there with his family, had chosen the least desirable area to build a house, he is somewhat restricted as to where it could go. In late 2006, before the incorporated village existed, he gave a 25.25-acre conservation easement over the farmland there to the Peconic Land Trust. He retained the right to build residential structures in four building envelopes on 18.3 acres — 15.8 acres that could be subdivided into three oceanfront lots and a 2.5-acre lot either on the northwest corner or directly behind the southeast oceanfront lot. That three houses could be constructed near the ocean dunes, in keeping with other development on Daniel’s Lane, was not mentioned during the hearing.
Under a partnership with two others, Michael Hirtenstein and Milton Berlinski, Sagaponack Realty L.L.C. proposed a subdivision in 2008, the first the village board had ever heard, Mayor Donald Louchheim said on Monday. “But, it was abandoned by the applicant after it got to the public hearing process,” the mayor said. “At the moment, we are just talking about the plan that’s on the board, which is one lot on the corner.”
Elizabeth Barton, a Sagg Main Street resident, called it “step one in a two-step process that seeks to avoid a subdivision plan.” Ms. Barton, like many of those who spoke against the location of the house, said they would prefer to see the village’s vision realized of clustering houses.
“When you get down to it, it’s a significant property, we all know that. But it’s still a site plan for one house on a 40-some-odd-acre property,” said David Eagan, Mr. Goldman’s attorney. “I think it’s absolutely clear that the proposed location of this house fulfills the first site plan standard which is the least impact of the site plan and soils.”
“My concern is really puzzlement,” Ms. Francke said. “People kill to have houses on the ocean. . . . Why the applicant has chosen to be on the street is really beyond me, when surely the properties alongside the ocean are more valuable and far more desirable.”
However, in his letter, Mr. Goldman said the reason he had chosen the site was that it had the least desirable soils. He plans to have “an active and productive farm,” on the property, he said, and to leave the highest quality soils for farming. “I understand that the village’s site plan standards prioritize the preservation of the highest quality soils as much as I do.”
Dean Foster, a Sagaponack farmer, said Mr. Goldman was proposing what farmers have traditionally done for centuries: “Take the worst farmland and put a house there,” he said.
Though some residents argued that the land was fallow, Mr. Foster said he had farmed parts of the property with cover crops, such as oats and rye, to preserve and enrich the soil, for 12 or 13 years. He called Mr. Goldman’s proposed siting “the perfect place for a house.” Mr. Foster said later that with building booming in Sagaponack, it was important for the community to consider prime agricultural soils in development.
Toward the end of the meeting, Ms. Topping indicated that she was having a change of heart. “I came in here very sure,” she said, but now considered the issue as “the farmer versus the view.”
In his letter, Mr. Goldman referred to the federal V.E. (velocity) flood zone along the oceanfront. “If a person chooses to build their house in a flood zone that is their privilege. However, forcing someone to build in a V.E. flood zone when there are other locations available outside the flood zone is onerous, especially when there is a location available on an already improved street corner,” he wrote. Obtaining flood insurance, he added, would also be much easier and less costly.
Mr. Goldman noted that renderings of a 3-D model of his house, which were presented at a Feb. 10 planning meeting of the board, showed that the impact on the view would be limited. “When traveling west on Daniel’s Lane, the renderings clearly showed that my house will be lower and less visible than the existing houses to the north and west,” he said. “When traveling east on Daniel’s Lane, the renderings show that it was obvious that you would not even see my house until you reach the intersection of Daniel’s Lane and Peter’s Pond Lane due to the height of the residence and 14-foot hedgerow located at 363 Daniel’s Lane to the west of my proposed house.”
The hearing will be left open until the board’s next meeting, on May 12, to allow for comment from the Suffolk County Planning Commission and feedback from planning and engineering consultants.