A Travesty - 27 East


Southampton Press / Opinion / Letters / 2118514

A Travesty

The proposed buildings on an agricultural reserve at 625 Butter Lane in Bridgehampton contain a gross misrepresentation that, if not rejected, will set a precedent with dire consequences for Southampton and surrounding agricultural reserves.

The applicant has repeatedly attempted to subvert easements and build housing on the agricultural reserve. Currently, he seeks Planning Board approval for a “greenhouse” on the reserve — misleading the planning, agricultural and zoning boards so he can build housing disguised as something it’s not.

If approved, developers and attorneys will use this case to justify construction of housing on agricultural reserves.

Four years ago, the applicant presented falsehoods to the Planning Board, delivering intentionally inaccurate scope and goals of the project, misrepresented as a “small” “ag labor housing” on the agricultural reserve without providing plans and dimensions. All the while, architectural renderings had already been fabricated for sizable housing, with an elaborate indoor and outdoor kitchen, fireplaces, and multiple bedrooms and bathrooms.

The agricultural easement on the property explicitly states: “No temporary or permanent residential or residential accessory structure or building shall be placed or erected within or upon the said premises.”

With this new application, there are myriad additional violations, currently “on hold” by the courts, including illegal buildings, dumping, waste, removal of agriculturally rich soil, parking of non-agricultural vehicles overnight, and roads built on the reserve. These actions directly breach the Whirled Peas Agricultural Easement.

The applicant’s claim to be a farmer is another fabrication. To date, there have been no agricultural sales from this property (per the Agricultural Review Board). Yet, the applicant’s attorney testified that this is a working apple orchard at the December 2022 ZBA meeting and, most recently, on February 8 an Agricultural Review Board meeting. But no sales have been documented.

Further, the applicant built three structures, directly violating the COVID building pause, without getting any Building Department, Planning Board or other regulatory approvals, and housing alpacas and chickens, when animal husbandry is not allowed in this reserve due to its small size.

Nora Catlin, agriculture program director at the Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County and an expert in greenhouses, wrote a letter explicitly stating that the building that the applicant seeks to build today is not a production greenhouse.

The applicant is attempting to increase the size of the building envelope, erecting enormous housing, complete with two 30-foot-tall chimneys, multiple fireplaces and bathrooms. Nothing in the drawing represents an actual working greenhouse.

If this project is approved, a dangerous precedent will be set, allowing what little agricultural reserve that is left to be built upon — leaving no open spaces or land for real farmers and actual farming.

Please take action to prevent this before it’s too late.

Michele S. Green