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Feb 18, 2019 11:49 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Civic Association Transfers Six Of 10 Vacant Properties To Neighboring Property Owners

Fredrick Foelsch and Lorraine Ang tend to one of the apple trees. VALERIE GORDON
Feb 20, 2019 10:07 AM

In the spring, Fredrick Foelsch plans to plant more perennials along the perfectly manicured flower bed that sits directly below his Sylvan Avenue home’s bay window—but that’s not the only property he’ll be tending to in March.

On Monday, the Flanders resident acquired three additional parcels—175 and 181 Sylvan Avenue, and 154 Temple Avenue—from the Flanders Riverside and Northampton Community Association.

Three additional properties were transferred to separate members of the community organization through the Governor’s Office of Storm Recovery’s New York Rising flood recovery program. The parcels were offered to homeowners whose properties sit adjacent to the vacant lots, which were purchased by the state following Superstorm Sandy in 2012.

FRNCA obtained the six high-risk flood properties—as well as four others, which the nonprofit has yet to find stewards for—for $3,000 in September, with conditions that the parcels remain undeveloped open space.

Homeowners who have agreed to maintain the properties can use the land solely for wetlands management, nature reserves, cultivation, grazing and buffer zones, according to office of storm recovery spokesperson Freeman Klopott. Additionally, the only permitted structures would be for flood control.

Mr. Foelsch plans to use the 0.18-acre Temple Avenue property to expand the size of his backyard, whereas the two vacant lots neighboring his house will soon be home to a new fruit orchid and vegetable garden.

The new stewards are responsible for paying property taxes on each of the designated parcels, which range from $133 to $232 annually, according to FRNCA President Ronald Fisher. Additionally, property owners are expected to reimburse all costs previously incurred by FRNCA, closing costs, as well as pledge a $1,000 donation to the community organization—which equates to $2,725 per lot.

Sixteen additional properties—which were damaged by Superstorm Sandy in 2012 and subsequently cleared by the state—were turned over to Southampton Town in 2016. Two years later, after it became clear that the town was not interested in the remaining 10, Mr. Foelsch initiated talks with NY Rising and the properties were transferred to FRNCA.

“Who’s going to take care of it better than someone that lives right next to it,” he said.

However, the transaction is not all honeysuckles and daffodils, according to Bay View Pines Civic Association President Chrissy Prete.

She argued that the process for determining which neighbors would be good stewards was unclear, calling FRNCA “power hungry” for accepting donations in exchange for the properties.

“You have all these people with their own agendas,” she said, adding that an adjacent property owner, whom she declined to identify, was denied one of the parcels located in Bay View Pines for not being a good steward. “Who is determining this?” she asked.

Ms. Prete criticized the Town Board for declining to take over the aforementioned parcels on Monday.

“They can spend a fortune on the theater in Sag Harbor, but they can’t maintain six quarter-acre properties,” she said. “The town should take them all over. They should just go back to their natural state.”

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I'll take care of one of those properties. Where can I sign up?
By pigroast (100), East Quogue on Feb 19, 19 8:38 AM
8k run & 3 mile walk, Agawam Park, Southampton Rotary Club fundraiser