Public hearing held on proposal to build luxury homes in the Pine Barrens

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A public hearing was held in Riverhead Wednesday on a proposal to build luxury homes and a golf course on hundreds of acres of land in the Pine Barrens.

The project, originally called the Hills, was shot down by the town board in 2017. Now with a new name and new zoning, it's back up for a vote.

The proposal includes building 118 luxury homes, a golf course and a club house on just under 600 acres in East Quogue.

Pine Barrens Society Executive Director Dick Amper said he is hopeful the plan won't be pushed through.

Assemblyman Steve Englebright also spoke out against what officials say is the largest project ever proposed to be developed in the Pine Barrens.

"There are redundant flaws and shortcomings in the proposal before you,” said Englebright. “In sum, it is so poorly planned that it is unworthy of approval…my purpose here today is to ask you to act in accordance with the lawful stated purpose of the Pine Barrens State Protection Act by voting no."

Many residents at the hearing shared concerns of how the project would impact the quality of the local water and the ecosystem.

However, Charles Voorhis, the planning consultant for the proposal, says the project will be considerate of the environment.

"We will apply the minimal amount of chemical usage in terms of nutrients or other applications,” says Voorhis. “The proposed project will have a net negative nitrogen load of -637 pounds per year."

The Pine Barrens commission has until April 20 to render its decision.

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