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Jul 31, 2013 10:03 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Lauer Asks For More Housing At New Horse Farm

Jul 31, 2013 11:03 AM

Representatives of television personality Matt Lauer will appear before the Southampton Town Planning Board next week to pitch plans for a modest additional house on the “Today” show host’s property in Water Mill to house employees of the sprawling horse farm.

The Planning Board will hold a hearing on Thursday, August 8, at 1 p.m. on a proposal to build a 2,200-square-foot, four-bedroom house on the property. The proposal says the house will accommodate up to four people.

The 30-acre horse farm was established about a year after Southampton Town paid previous owner Michael Graham $3.6 million in 2005 to purchase development rights on the land to preserve it from residential development. A former nursery, the property was designated for agricultural use only.

Nonetheless, Mr. Graham was reportedly asking $10 million for the land for use as a horse farm just before Mr. Lauer purchased it. A state judge in the 1990s declared that horse farms are agricultural uses and permitted on preserved lands. Courts have generally allowed the construction of buildings on agricultural reserves that are considered part of the farm operation, even if development rights on the land have been sold.

Since Mr. Lauer purchased the property, more than 50,000 square feet of buildings—about equal, in total, to the Kmart store in the Bridgehampton Commons—including a 24,000-square-foot indoor riding ring and a 17,000-square-foot-stable, have been built on the property. There is already an approximately 2,100-square-foot house on the property, also used to house staff, that was built before Mr. Lauer bought the property.

The Planning Board also will hold a public hearing next week on another agricultural housing application for a newly purchased 9.5-acre parcel of agricultural land in Bridgehampton owned by the Foster family. The application for Rabbit Run calls for a one-story house of approximately 1,300 square feet to be built at an unspecified time in the future on the land, which currently contains a series of agricultural hoop-style greenhouses.

The application, which also calls for the construction of a 2,400-square-foot barn on the property, says the house would accommodate a farm manager and two laborers.

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Whoa, Nellie, whoa . . . !

Close that barn door, all the horses are getting out.

What are we building here, the Village of Lauerville?

The proposed residence exceeds the limited exception to "no development" for which the court opened a door for horse farms.

There is already a residence on the property. What's next, a horse-themed boutique and spa/health facility for the tired riders, all as "necessary" [this IS the Hamptons!] adjuncts to a horse farm?

The ...more
By PBR (4956), Southampton on Aug 1, 13 4:51 AM
1 member liked this comment
In the 7/11/12 article [link above], Planning Board Chairman Dennis Finnerty is quoted as saying, “Every time I look at one of these applications, I squirm a little bit." Well, sir, your discomfort was 50,000 square feet ago. How does it feel now?

Also in 2012, Mr. Halsey of the Peconic Land Trust was reportedly of "the opinion that the size of the buildings and the extent of the development of the preserved property are appropriate under the circumstances."

Hopefully Mr. ...more
By PBR (4956), Southampton on Aug 1, 13 5:27 AM
Check the photos from 2012, then drive by the "farm" to appreciate the visual immensity of this new "Village" on Deerfield Road at Edge of Woods Road. [in my personal opinion]


Mr. Frankenbach would not be happy IMO.
By PBR (4956), Southampton on Aug 1, 13 5:46 AM
At the hearing for this yesterday, the applicant requested adjournment, and the new date is 9/26. Listen to the testimony from concerned neighbors about the changes this property has undergone. Check the "before" photos at the link in the comment above.

Noticeably absent (at least as shown in the official SHT video of the meeting) is any comment from the Peconic Land Trust.

Shocking IMO.

Hopefully Mr. Lauer will scale back his plans for Lauerville before the next meeting.
By PBR (4956), Southampton on Aug 23, 13 6:49 PM

By PBR (4956), Southampton on Aug 23, 13 6:50 PM
PS -- The meeting video time stamps for this are from 1:00 to 7:40.
By PBR (4956), Southampton on Aug 23, 13 7:05 PM