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Apr 23, 2019 4:55 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Town Attorney Says Butter Lane Farm Housing Proposal Is In Violation Of Agricultural Easement

Apr 24, 2019 10:41 AM

A proposal to build two agricultural housing units on an 8-acre lot on Butter Lane in Bridgehampton appears be in violation of a town-issued easement, according to Southampton Town Attorney James Burke.

In an April 12 letter to John Bennett, the landowner’s attorney, Mr. Burke explained that limitations on the property prohibit the owner, a Manhattan hedge fund chief executive whose name is shielded by Homestead LLC, from building the agricultural housing units.

The property was originally owned by the Hampton Day School until it was subdivided in 1996. During that process, Southampton Town Planning Board members issued an agricultural easement, which restricted agricultural buildings to the northwest corner of the 8-acre parcel.

Mr. Bennett’s client’s proposal is currently before the Southampton Town Zoning Board of Appeals seeking a variance, waiving the requirement of a 200-foot side-yard setback.

Under the town code, housing for agricultural labor must be located on the farm where the laborers work, have access to a paved street, be no less than 200 feet from any side or rear lot line and 150 feet from any front lot line, and meet the minimum state sanitation standards.

The current plan includes two units—one two-bedroom and the other a one-bedroom—complete with en-suite bathrooms plus two half-baths accessed from outside. Both housing units include a living room, dining room and kitchen open floor plan.

According to Mr. Burke’s letter, the easement granted to the property expressly prohibits any “temporary or permanent residential or residential accessory structures of building.”

“The town maintains that the construction of any residential structure, regardless of whether for agricultural labor or not, constitutes a material breach of … the agricultural easement,” Mr. Burke wrote.

Mr. Bennett did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Tuesday.

In a prepared statement on Wednesday, Pamela Harwood, president of the Bridgehampton Citizens Advisory Committee, who has taken a strong stance against the proposal, said she was "very gratified that Town Attorney James Burke upheld the covenant’s restrictions on any kind of residential housing on this protected Agricultural Reserve.”

In a previous email, Ms. Harwood forwarded a letter from Patrick Fife, an attorney at Twomey Latham LLP, who is representing an undisclosed neighbor, that read: “Upon consideration of the town attorney’s letter, we respectfully submit that the zoning board has no choice but to deny the application.”

Southampton Town ZBA Chairman Adam Grossman said on Tuesday that Mr. Burke’s letter indicates that the applicant’s requested variance is in violation of the easement.

“When we get a letter from the town attorney’s office saying that there’s a conflict, we have to figure out what to do,” he said, noting that Mr. Bennett will have an opportunity to respond to Mr. Burke’s letter. “It’s a development that we’re going to have to look at very carefully.”

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intersting how the olgarchs can build huge houses on environmentally sensitive waterfront homes, that require FEMA regulations and agriculturists can't get special exemptions for worker housing; i look forward to the day when the supermarket shelves are empty.
By sstorch (47), water milll on Apr 27, 19 7:42 AM
Methinks the town and neighbors are concerned about people of darker skin color living amongst them instead of commuting to the jobs they benefit from and then getting out of town when they're not engaged in serving the ruling class.
By oneseriousSicilian (63), medford on Apr 29, 19 10:46 AM
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