Judge Stops Rezoning in Hampton Bays After NYMBY lawsuit

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Rezoning plans in the Hamptons Bay downtown district hit a bump when a judge ruled in favor of a resident’s lawsuit. Photo Credit: Facebook

By Hellen Zaboulani

Rezoning plans in the Hamptons Bay downtown district hit a bump when a judge ruled in favor of a resident’s lawsuit.

As reported by the Real Deal, the Southampton town board had decided to implement new zoning plans for the community which would allow development of a new mixed-use downtown, modeled after Sag Harbor and Southampton Village. A NIMBY lawsuit was filed against the rezoning effort, by a resident with no legal background, who brought up density concerns. On July 20, a state court judge reversed the Southampton town board’s decision, halting development plans.

The lawsuit was brought forth by Gayle Lombardi, a Hampton Bays resident with no formal training in law. She filed an Article 78 proceeding to appeal the plans to adopt the new zoning in her neighborhood. Among other allegations, the suit said that the adoption violated the New York State Environmental Quality Review Act by relying on outdated and incomplete facts regarding the public water supply. Lombardi’s underdog suit succeeded in demonstrating that Southampton’s environmental review failed to consider the full scope of the rezoning’s impact on local water supplies, as per the Southampton Press.

The Southampton Town Board had approved plans for a new Hampton Bays Downtown Overlay District in February 2020. The plan was developed after years of discussions with residents and contractors, and outlined preferred design aesthetics to revitalize the downtown area. The plan would have fused 13 square miles of projected development into 45 acres of land, Lombardi said.

Lombardi was troubled by the relatively high density plan, though the plan would cap building heights to 35 feet or two stories. In June, Lombardi filed the Article 78, which lets residents appeal decisions made by local government agencies. Most government projects in New York require an environmental review, which is meant to identify and limit potential problems the development may cause to the nearby environment. Over the last few years, the town has been plagued with discolored, low-pressure water, with a recent investigation finding “significant deficiencies in the water supply system.”

As per the Real Deal, State Supreme Court Judge Joseph Santorelli ruled that Southampton’s review failed to fully study how the new district would affect Hampton Bays’ ailing water supply system. The rezoning can now not move forward until a thorough environmental review is conducted assessing the impacts on the local water supply.

Southampton Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman called the judge’s ruling “a temporary setback forcing us to examine concerns we have already fully vetted.”