Hardy Plumbing
September 20, 2017

PDD Observations

Dear Editor,

When Discovery Land of Arizona (the developer of a proposed golf resort in East Quogue known as The Hills) submitted an application for a Planned Development District (PDD) several years ago, the opposition to the PDD faced a relatively simple challenge, i.e., to compare The Hills PDD to an as-of-right development.

Instead the opposition to The Hills proposed their own rather complicated zoning vehicle known as a reduced-impact-equestrian alternative even though a model of uncomplicated zoning exists just down the street from The Hills.  This model of good zoning is an as-of-right subdivision that reduced enrollments, created jobs, preserved woodland and provided clean water to the development and surrounding neighborhoods.

As quickly pointed out by The Hills consultants, the opposition's reduced-impact-equestrian-alternative wasn't a formal application and it also required special zoning considerations (not all that much different from The Hills). 

After years of debate over two questionable alternatives, within the last few weeks, Discovery Land submitted a new PDD. I have a couple of observations.

Discovery Land's old PDD increased density by allowing the developer to construct both a seasonal housing subdivision and a golf course.  Job creation was catalogued as one of the benefits of the PDD.

However, in its new PDD, Discovery Land promised to purchase and preserve an additional 30 acres thus eliminating the construction of 30 houses.  Constructing 30 fewer homes translates into creating fewer jobs.  So if creating jobs is a rationale for creating a PDD, then the new Hills PDD fails to meet that criteria.    

A similar paradox emerges when one analyzes the alleged tax revenues to be generated by The Hills PDD. In both its old and new PDDs, Discovery Land argued that seasonal housing would keep children out of the school thereby generating tax revenue without increasing costly school enrollments, whereas an as-of-right development would increase enrollments and thereby raise taxes. In response, the opposition to The Hills insisted that no developer could legally keep children out of seasonal housing.    

Unfortunately both arguments lack merit because both are based on the seriously-flawed assumption that all new housing in East Quogue will be built for families with school-age children. That's not true.  

As proof, one need only to scrutinize the construction of homes in Quogue, the village adjacent to East Quogue.  Quogue is fully-developed and none of that development was created as seasonal housing via a PDD. Yet school enrollment and taxes in Quogue are low.  

So evidence exists in both East Quogue and Quogue to prove that an as-of-right development does not automatically increase enrollments nor does it automatically raise taxes. 

Susan Cerwinski

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