Matt Lauer Faces Controversy About Plan To Plant Trees - 27 East

Real Estate News

Real Estate News / 1410389

Matt Lauer Faces Controversy About Plan To Plant Trees

icon 5 Photos
LongHouse Reserve in East Hampton opened for the season on Saturday, April 30.

LongHouse Reserve in East Hampton opened for the season on Saturday, April 30.

This fence was made from the wire mesh used in cement structures.

This fence was made from the wire mesh used in cement structures.

author on Jul 11, 2015

Matt Lauer isn't out of the woods just yet in his effort to plant trees at the border of his horse farm in Water Mill.

The Today Show" co-anchor wants to plant 42 trees and 194 shrubs along the northern boundary of Bright Side Farm, the property he owns with his wife, Annette, on Deerfield Road. According to its website, Bright Side is "an idyllic retreat for horses and their riders, offering the luxury of time and space in the sprawling fields, rings and paddocks of its 40 acres."

Jack and Jodi Wasserman, neighbors of Mr. Lauer whose house is on Farrell Court, are convinced that the trees would obstruct their pleasant view of Bright Side's open space.

Most of the landscaping would go along the back of the Wassermans' property, which lies adjacent to the farm and now offers an unobstructed view of it. A statement provided by Patrick Fife, the Riverhead attorney representing the Wassermans, says the landscaping would violate the terms of an easement that went into effect when Southampton Town bought the development rights for the Lauers' property. The attorney also said the proposal would violate a slew of conditions set by the Town Planning Board when it approved a site plan for the horse farm in 2012, including one provision that there could be no landscaping that would obstruct the view and another that the farm not be used as a riding academy.

"The Wassermans' intent is to maintain the open views that are guaranteed by the development rights easement the town paid over $3.5 million to acquire from the previous owner of the Lauers’ farm in 2005," Mr. Fife wrote in an email.

Mr. Lauer's attorney, Timothy S. McCulley of Burke and Sullivan in Southampton, did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

An amended landscape proposal—two earlier ones were deemed by the Town Planning Board to be too intensive—will be presented to the board on Thursday, July 23. In the meantime, Planning Board Chairman Dennis Finnerty said he imagines there will be plenty of controversy.

“It’s been an ongoing issue, where landowners want to create private enclaves with the use of landscaping," he said. “The public has an expectation to feel that the vistas, the viewsheds, go along with that property.”

Mr. Finnerty said that property owners planting trees on "agricultural" properties for privacy purposes is one of the more "vexing problems" with privately-owned open space parcels. He cited a court case the town won two years ago involving a property on Ocean Road in Bridgehampton whose owners sought to do exactly what Mr. Lauer proposes, and who sued the Planning Board when their application was denied.

“We prevailed. We affirmed the town’s goal of using agricultural reserves not only for agriculture, but to maintain agricultural business, open space and open vistas for the public, as well as the adjoining property owner,” Mr. Finnerty said.

Mr. Lauer is not the only celebrity whose efforts to plant trees have been met with resistance. According to news reports, Madonna created a tree farm on a parcel she purchased adjacent to her Bridgehampton estate on Mitchell Lane, presumably to secure privacy at her mansion. She was able to buy the parcel at a bargain because the development rights had been purchased by the town and county, and she also received a tax break from the county for putting the parcel to agricultural use.

"A lot of people are saying she’s taking advantage, which is nonsense," said Enzo Morabito, a broker for Douglas Elliman Real Estate. "She has every right to do what she’s doing."

Meanwhile, in Sagaponack, the owners of a property on Daniels Lane planted Christmas trees, in a deliberate attempt, in the view of one village official, to obstruct the view after the village denied an application to subdivide the property. Again, an easement stated that the agricultural area should not be screened off, and the property owners were rewarded with property tax relief for maintaining the acreage as farmland.

In the case of Mr. Lauer's application, Mr. Finnerty said the Planning Board will work to ensure that his plans will also take into account the rights of the public to enjoy views of open fields.

“The town is really committed to maintaining the open vistas of its agricultural land," Mr. Finnerty said.


You May Also Like:

Charles Gwathmey-Designed Amagansett House Sells For $3.5M

An Amagansett home by famed architect Charles Gwathmey himself sold for $3.5 million on Friday, ... 24 Jan 2020 by Staff Writer

Newly Built Little Plains Road Residence Sells For $11.35M

A newly built Southampton Village residence by Northport’s Schuttinger Building has sold for $11.35 million. ... 23 Jan 2020 by Staff Writer

AIA Peconic Names 2020 Executive Committee

AIA Peconic, the East End chapter of The American Institute of Architects, has announced its executive committee for 2020. Debbie Kropf AIA of DSK Architect will serve as president and Nilay Oza of Oza/Sabbeth Architecture will be vice president. Viola Rouhani AIA of Stelle Lomont Rouhani Architects returns to the board as secretary, and Anne Sherry of Anne Sherry Architect returns as treasurer. Gregory Thorpe, who was the 2019 AIA Peconic president, will serve as an AIA of New York State board member, Emmanuela Martini of Blaze Makoid Architecture will be an associate liaison and B. Kay Jones is the ... 21 Jan 2020 by Staff Writer

Wyandanch Lane Residence Sells For $8.95 Million

A classic Southampton Village home on a Wyandanch Lane flag lot has sold for $8.95 ... 20 Jan 2020 by Staff Writer

Historic Sagaponack Home Halseycot Sells For $7 Million

Halseycot, an iconic Sagaponack Village home, recently sold for $7 million, and the buyer, according ... by Staff Writer

CPF Revenue For First 11 Months Of 2019 Down 23 Percent

Revenues for the Peconic Bay Region Community Preservation Fund during the first 11 months of ... 10 Jan 2020 by Staff Writer

Normandy House On Southampton’s Lake Agawam Sells For $22 Million

The historic Normandy estate fronting Southampton Village’s Lake Agawam has changed hands for $22 million, ... 8 Jan 2020 by Staff Writer

Ellen Pompeo Sells Sag Harbor Home

Actress Ellen Pompeo’s modern farmhouse retreat on 8 acres in Noyac has sold, about six ... by Staff Writer

Water Mill Home That Previously Belonged To Mel Brooks, Anne Bancroft Sells For $11 Million

An oceanfront Water Mill beach house that once belonged to filmmakers Mel Brooks and Anne ... 7 Jan 2020 by Staff Writer

Hampton Bays Home Fronting Peconic Bay Sells For $3.9 Million

In Hampton Bays, 18 Cedar Point Road, located east of the Shinnecock Canal and fronting ... 6 Jan 2020 by Staff Writer

Welcome to our new website!

To see what’s new, click “Start the Tour” to take a tour.

We welcome your feedback. Please click the
“contact/advertise” link in the menu bar to email us.

Start the Tour
Landscape view not supported