The July 27 Town of Oyster Bay meeting agenda included a hearing to consider a proposal to rezone certain properties within the Town's Special Groundwater Protection Area (SGPA) to REC (Recreation District) and lower density residential zoning classifications. This hearing was a continuation from a hearing held on April 20.
The REC District is designed to preserve existing recreational open spaces. Under the REC District, permitted principal uses would include public parks and municipal uses by the town, as well as by the county, state or federal government or a special district with town board approval. Permitted uses with a special use permit would include country clubs and private membership clubs.
"The purpose of the REC District is to help assure the preservation and continuation of existing recreational/open space uses so as to protect the quality and quantity of groundwater recharge into the sole source aquifers which provide drinking water for town residents," said Town of Oyster Bay Supervisor John Venditto. "The REC District will also prevent or reduce flooding through the preservation of wetlands and drainage ways and by the minimization of impervious surface coverage. Additionally, the REC District will protect visually and environmentally important natural features of the land such as trees, wetlands, streams and habitat for rare or endangered species of plants and animals."
According to Town of Oyster Bay Supervisor John Venditto, portions of East Norwich, Glen Head, Jericho, Locust Valley, Oyster Bay hamlet, Plainview, Syosset, Westbury and Woodbury are located within the Town's SGPA. "In a report entitled Zoning for the Protection of Groundwater in the Special Groundwater Protection Area prepared by the Town's zoning consultant, recommendations were made to rezone certain properties to provide further protection for the groundwater. This hearing is to consider implementing those recommendations," said Town of Oyster Bay Supervisor John Venditto.
Under the original proposal, the Nassau Country Club and an adjacent parcel owned by the Town of Oyster Bay in Locust Valley, the Glen Head Country Club, Goat Hill Park and the Pine Hollow Country Club in East Norwich, the Town of Oyster Bay Golf Course in Woodbury, town-owned property on the easterly side of Split Rock Road in Syosset, Stillwell Woods County Park in Syosset, Trail View State Park (the former Bethpage State Parkway right-of-way from the boundary of the Village of Laurel Hollow to the northerly boundary of the Northern State Parkway), Manetto Hill County Park in Plainview, a town-owned park on the northern boundary of the Hamlet on Olde Oyster Bay in Plainview, the Meadowbrook Country Club in Jericho and a town-owned park on the northern edge of the 81-acre Underhill parcel in Jericho would all be rezoned REC (Recreation District). In addition, residential properties north of Dogwood Lane in Locust Valley, Berry Hill Elementary School property in Syosset and property occupied by the State University of New York at Old Westbury were proposed to be rezoned to lesser density residential.
After Tuesday's meeting, it was decided that the four private golf courses are going to be excluded from the above list and will be part of a separate hearing scheduled for Aug. 24.
The attorney representing the golf course owners spoke at the meeting and said that although the golf course owners support the spirit of the REC zone, the REC zone would hurt the equity of their golf courses and could make it difficult to get financing for needed improvements. They agreed to take lower-density residential zoning. For example a few of the golf courses would go from 2 acre to 5 acre residential zoning so if they did sell the golf courses it would be residential but it would be low density residential.
According to Town of Oyster Bay spokesperson Phyllis Barry, the town understands the position of the golf course owners. There are no plans to sell any of the golf courses at this time, according to Barry.
The decision of the board was reserved and the record will be left open for allowing those who were unable to attend Tuesday's meeting a chance to comment. Please send all comments to the Town of Oyster Bay, 54 Audrey Avenue, Oyster Bay, NY 11771.