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Apr 18, 2012 6:21 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

50,000 Square Feet Of Buildings On Preserved Open Space Planned For Matt Lauer's Horse Farm

Apr 18, 2012 10:31 AM

The plans for a sprawling equestrian center on a former tree nursery in Water Mill, purchased last year by television personality and Water Mill resident Matt Lauer, call for some 50,000 square feet of buildings on the 40-acre property—most of which was preserved from development with millions of dollars from the Southampton Town Community Preservation Fund.

The town shelled out $3.6 million in 2005 to owner Alan M. Graham for the development rights to the 30-acre Frankenbach’s Deerfield Nursery on Deerfield Road in northern Water Mill. An adjacent 10-acre parcel also purchased by Mr. Lauer was scrubbed of its development rights as part of the approval for a subdivision off Blank Lane in 1984.

Following a 1990s court ruling on a lawsuit filed by a Bridgehampton polo club, Southampton Town code allows horse farms and accessory structures on lands dedicated for agricultural use.

The plans submitted to the Southampton Town Planning Board earlier this year by Mr. Lauer’s local representatives—attorney Tim McCully of Burke and Sullivan, and development consultants Inter-Science Research Associates of Southampton—show the plans for the variety of riding areas, indoor and out. The Planning Board will begin its official review of the farm, to be called Edge of Woods Farm, on April 26.

Sketches of the plans show a 23,940-square-foot indoor riding arena with a floor to ceiling interior height of 36 feet, a 17,455-square-foot stable with boarding stalls for 36 horses, and a 2,170-square-foot covered horse walking area. In addition, an existing 2,100-square-foot farmhouse will be renovated into housing for the farm’s horse grooms and a 3,800-square-foot barn will likewise be renovated for use as a storage building. The plans feature a 26-space parking area adjacent to the buildings. Across the rest of the property will be 34,000 square feet of fenced riding rings, an open cross-country riding course, a pond and a serpentine gravel road leading through the entire facility.

The New York Post reported in January that the property had a $10 million asking price when it was listed for sale, but that Mr. Lauer paid less than that.

Town code allows horse farms as a special exception use on agricultural parcels within the Agricultural Preservation Overlay District, which encompasses most of Water Mill east of Mill Pond and Bridgehampton and Sagaponack to the East Hampton Town border. The code allows that agricultural uses may also include buildings consistent with agricultural practices, including housing for laborers.

In 1991, the owners of a would-be polo club filed a lawsuit after the Southampton Town Board denied them permission to build their facilities on 65 acres of land where the town had purchased the development rights and declared it agricultural lands. After losing the initial case a New York State appeals judge ruled in favor of the polo club owners and declared that horse farms were an allowable agricultural use, including the raising of polo ponies and whatever stable and practice structures such an enterprise would require.

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What a shame. First Alan Alda buys a beautiful field in tne same area which was home to foxes, pheasants, meadowlarks, hawks and other wildlife and put up some of the ugliest McMegaMansions I've ever seen (and carpets the remaining land with sterile sod). Now Lauer is buying the nursery which is home to dozens of different kinds of birds and will no doubt sod that over and make it another haven of waste, using tons of water, fertilizer and herbicides. Thanks, guys. You're soooo green!
By btdt (449), water mill on Apr 20, 12 12:09 AM