|Posted by joan on April 11, 2016 at 2:40 PM|
The Lesser of Two Evils is Still Evil
I feel the need to splash some cold water on the big love fest that has been going on lately among the local Montauk community organizations, the owners of the former East Deck property and to some extent town officials. They are all commending one another for the unusually cooperative effort they’ve engaged in to work out a plan to subdivide the 4 plus acre property into four residential lots that will legally allow five to six thousand square feet homes. The reason most cited for the exuberant celebration is that compared to the owners’ original Theme Park like project for a beach club, the four-homes plan seems like a reasonable compromise to what would otherwise have been a catastrophe for the Ditch Plains beach and surrounding community. The problem is that everyone is so happy with having avoided a disaster that they are brushing aside the still negative ramifications of the current residential proposal.
Everyone should picture in their mind’s eye what the sight of four five thousand square feet homes raised seventeen feet up and huddled together on four acres would do to the scenic vista of the Ditch Plains beach area. Imagine if someone had proposed building a 20,000 square foot house on a four-acre lot here with four swimming pools in a residential community whose average house size is 1,500 square feet. Yes, the community organizations negotiated a number of important restrictions such as sand only nourishment of the dunes, no hard surface revetments, and public access to the beach. And that is indeed commendable but that doesn’t make the massive homes any less invasive or any less jarring to the character of the community. If Attila the Hun downscales his plan to rape, pillage and decimate a village to one where only the first born will be killed, non one is going to celebrate and thank him for his compromising efforts.
Furthermore, these homes will be built as far up to the dunes’ crest as legally allowable. Even with this past winter’s lack of any significant storms this recently re-nourished dune has had a large chunk bitten off by the relentless wave swells. There is no doubt in anyone’s mind that severe heightened storm activity causing extensive property destruction is inevitable. When that moment arrives and the owners come pleading to the town to allow them to do something to protect their aggregate economic investment of $40 to $50 million, we will be put into the same dilemma currently facing the downtown motels. Yes, they’ve agreed to no hard surfaced revetments but there were also clear prohibitions in the downtown beach area but yet a loophole was found to build a wall. Someone explain the following paradox to me: It is universally accepted that sea level rise and its ensuing destruction is imminent. Retreat of Montauk’s entire downtown area up to the post office is being discussed as the only real solution. Yet we are allowing the construction of these homes right up to the dune on a beach with a progressively encroaching high water line. A Town preservation purchase undoubtedly represents the best possible outcome for this property and should still be pursued aggressively.
I implore our town officials on the Town Board, the ZBA and the Planning Board to act with vision and foresight instead of officious expediency. You are the last stand against these projects that come close to conforming to code but inexorably keep pushing the envelope of responsible coastal development. They test our ability to deal with the destructive powers of Mother Nature. Moreover, they persistently chip away at the character of our community and they increasingly overburden the capacity of our infrastructure. Making what may seem moderate exceptions here and there, to grant variances and act sympathetically to developers’ appeals leads to a kind of deal creep, which singularly may seem minor in its effect but in the aggregate will ultimately result in a degradation of our community’s image, character and resources.
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