Fact vs. Fiction - 27 East


Southampton Press / Opinion / Letters / 2233793

Fact vs. Fiction

I appreciated Tom Gogola’s effort to dig for the truth about our farm in “Butter Lane Tree Farm Sorts Through Issues with Town, Neighbors” [27east.com, January 17]. Gogola visited the farm multiple times and cited local farmers who attested to the quality of our operations cultivating endangered and indigenous tree species.

Unfortunately, letters submitted to you after Gogola’s article are filled with fabrications and misrepresentations.

In “Telling Truths” [Letters, February 8], Meredith Berkowitz wrote: “To quote Shapiro’s attorney: ‘He wants what he wants, and he doesn’t care about the neighbors!’” We reviewed transcripts from all six public hearings about our farm — and our attorney never said that.

Berkowitz claims I threatened to turn my property into a pig farm. I didn’t, and my attorney said the opposite during a Zoning Board of Appeals discussion: “You could turn this into a feedlot with, you know, 200 pigs. No one’s going to do that.”

In “Harvest Hoax,” [Letters, February 1], Berkowitz claimed I proposed a “mixed-use condo development” that would have removed “over half the reserve from production.” Also false. While we, at one point, proposed agricultural worker housing, all our proposals constituted less than 2 percent lot coverage.

Worse than the lies have been years of harassment.

Another neighbor confronted our farm manager, Fire Chief Brendon Prado, screaming expletives and threatening to sue him. She had been harassing and videotaping a member of our staff as he conducted his work. Brendon had asked if he could help her.

She threatened another member of our team by telling her: “I know where you live.”

Our farm manager witnessed this neighbor and her lawyer trespassing on our farm on separate occasions. Photos appeared in your newspaper, including one taken at least 350 feet onto our property, that could only have been obtained via trespassing.

What is the context for the neighbors’ opposition? We have proposed building a greenhouse designed to support propagation and protection of young trees, and the Planning Board is considering a modest change to our building envelope so that it would include an area of run-in sheds for our alpacas and our chicken coop.

To be clear, raising “small numbers of livestock,” which includes alpacas, is permitted on agricultural properties (§330-5). The alpacas are a joy for family and friends and produce odorless manure that we use as fertilizer for the trees.

I look forward to this issue being resolved and remain available to your reporting team to sort fact versus fiction.

To learn more about our work with endangered and indigenous tree species, I invite you to visit butterlane.org.

Adam Shapiro