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Big House Is A Big Deal

Residents of Southhampton, an exclusive community at the tip of New York's Long Island, say their town is one of the most beautiful places on Earth.

At least, it used to be.

A pile of blueprints are raising hackles in the Hamptons. On farmland with an ocean view, Ira Rennert, a wealthy and reclusive mining magnate, plans to build his Xanadu. He's called it a single-family home, but it will cover 110,000-square feet.

It will dwarf Bill Gate's new compound, Hearst's San Simeon, and even Aaron Spelling's notoriously large California mansion. Rennert has declined to discuss his plans, but his new neighbors are angry and frightened by the project, reports CBS News Correspondent Jacqueline Adams.

"A 110,000-square-foot commercial structure with two bowling alleys, parking for 200 cars, an underground movie theater," complains one resident. He can't believe that a review board approved the project

Albert Bialeck and his wife, Sheila, live just up the road from the site. Disturbed by the project's 29 bedroom suites, industrial kitchen facilities, and an on-site power plant, they formed a home owners' association to challenge Rennert's contention that his home will house only one family.

"There's a fraud, there's a deception here," the Bialecks say.

"Had this come in for what it really was...the town board would have said we need a change in zoning," Albert Bialeck says. "We're going to require an environmental impact statement."

"There's a lot of jealousy going on here," says author Steven Gaines. "It's what I call palace envy."

Gaines says the Hamptons are stacked end-to-end with mansions that are huge. But at 10,000, even 20,000-square feet, they're still smaller than Rennert's proposed garage.

"This is a very competitive place," adds Gaines. "He's built a place that's way too big for its location, and it rankles his neighbors."

Rennert's neighbors are lobbying town officials to revoke his building permits. Though his lawyers insist Rennert is building a home, they won't give assurances that the property will never be used as a resort hotel.

The local zoning board is considering challenges to its original decision to grant Rennert's building permit. A decision is expected in November. Fearing the worst, Southhampton's cultural and corporate elite continue to gird for battle. For once, earning the moniker, "Barbarians at the Gate."

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