Sagaponack Subdivision Under Microscope

The division of one of the most familiar stretches of remaining South Fork farmland, a 41-acre parcel on Montauk Highway in Sagaponack, moved one step closer to becoming a reality on Monday, when the Sagaponack Village Board accepted what is called a pre-application report. 

Kenneth Schwenk and his family, who own the property, have been meeting with the board for months to refine the details of the subdivision, which they call Meadowmere. Mr. Schwenk plans to create nine house lots clustered in the southwest corner of the property. More than half the property, 27 acres, is to remain an agricultural reserve. 

Eight of the lots will be approximately 53,000 square feet, one will be more than 56,000 square feet, and Mr. Schwenk’s existing house and accessory structures will remain on a 55,000-square-foot lot at the north end of the parcel. The map shows a proposed road that would provide access to the new houses from Montauk Highway.

Now that the board has accepted the pre-application report, Mr. Schwenk has one year to file a final application, Rhodi Winchell, the village clerk, said. A public hearing had been held on the application on Dec. 10, and comments were accepted for 10 days afterward.

At Monday’s meeting, Richard Warren, the village planner who provided the report, read a number of public responses, which were predominantly negative, and addressed why he thought each of the arguments against the subdivision was not realistic. 

Several residents, for example, suggested that money from the community preservation fund should have been used to buy the parcel. Mayor Louchheim had broached the possibility of buying the property’s development rights rather than making an outright purchase at a meeting in April, but Mr. Schwenk rejected the idea. “You have to have a willing seller,” Ms. Winchell said on Tuesday. 

Others objected to the access road from Montauk Highway to the nine proposed house lots, which, they said, would have a negative impact on traffic. Ms. Winchell said alternate entrances had been explored, but none were feasible because they would have either crossed private property or cut into agricultural fields. 

Mr. Warren’s report concluded that the board had done as much as it could to influence how the parcel would be developed. If and when the project moves forward, Ms. Winchell said, the board would be able to weigh in again on the final details. As it stands, however, if Mr. Schwenk sticks to the site plan he and the board have developed, the subdivision will come to fruition.

“I hate to see it done, but we really have no choice,” Mayor Louchheim said on Monday.