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Decision on Bootleggers Alley mega-house still pending

Town Attorney Bob DeStefano Jr. is drafting a resolution for the Town Board’s consideration at its Sept. 20 meeting on a controversial building application.

Seth and Bonnie Harris are seeking to combine two parcels of land at Bootleggers Alley and Nostrand Parkway, replacing an existing small house and accessory building with an 11,000-square-foot structure.

What will be contained in the draft is not completely clear and neither is how the Town Board will vote on the project.

Judging by a discussion at the Sept. 4 board’s work session, it appears that representatives for the couple have been very responsive to requests for additional information — especially in relation to water issues that are already troublesome in that area, particularly during summer months.

Councilman Paul Shepherd noted that there’s a general reaction from many town residents to large houses: “Oh, my God, it’s so big.”

Mr. Shepherd said he doesn’t “love the ostentatiousness” of the proposed house, but thinks data on water usage could help future applicants, if it can be shown that mitigating steps counter the quantity and quality of water from the aquifer that is used; the affect of protecting other area wells from salt water intrusion; and improvements to septic systems that reduce nitrates.

Mr. Shepherd would like to see metering of water use on the property, if the project is approved.

“You know I have concerns,” Councilman Albert Dickson said. He pointed out that, by Suffolk County Department of Health Services standards, there are 11 rooms being classified as bedrooms.

Southampton attorney Bailey Larkin, representing the applicants, said only eight are designed to be used as bedrooms, but the health department counts any room that potentially could be used as a bedroom in calculating septic needs.

The Harris project does include a provision for a nitrate-reducing “I/A” septic system.

Ms. Larkin noted that the owners have agreed to install a cistern with a 300- to 400-gallon holding tank that would store water, reducing what is taken from the aquifer. They also will not irrigate planned tennis courts, and will have reduced pumping to five gallons per minute, instead of 20 gallons per minute, to avoid salt water intrusion in their own and their neighbors’ wells.

An exterior hose will run from the cistern to the dock, Ms. Larkin said.

A year-long analysis of water was conducted, according to Executive Chairman Paul Grosser of P.W. Grosser Consulting, a Bohemia-based environmental compliance and engineering company. Mr. Grosser said the testing was through a 6-foot bore hole, and when an actual well would be installed, it could reveal some change, but appeared not to result in salt water intrusion.

Mr. Dickson said a larger water holding tank, among other suggestions, would improve the viability of the project.

“I’m concerned about usage” in an area that is “water challenged right now,” Mr. Dickson said.

Councilman Jim Colligan said he likes the idea of metering water usage, since there are many homes fighting the battle of water quantity in the area.

Residents in town are asking, “When is enough, enough?” he said.