Legislature OK’s plan to purchase Sound Ave. farmland rights

06/04/2014 4:00 PM |
The land on the west side of Park Road will likely be preserved as farmland by Suffolk County. (Credit: Google Maps)

The land on the west side of Park Road and north of Sound Avenue will likely be preserved as farmland by Suffolk County. (Credit: Google Maps)

It looks like they won’t be paving one parcel on Sound Avenue and putting up a parking lot.

While one 14.7-acre parcel had one been slated for a shopping center, the Suffolk County Legislature voted unanimously to authorize the purchase of its farmland development rights, disallowing any future commercial development on site.

The development rights purchase totals $1,238,160, or $84,000 per acre. The deal still awaits County Executive Steve Bellone’s signature, but the resolution to authorize the approval was introduced in the legislature at the request of Mr. Bellone.

The land is owned by Boom Development, headed by Ed Broidy of Southampton, and is located at the northwest corner of Park Road and Sound Avenue in the Reeves Park community. Mr. Broidy has already accepted the offer, according to the county resolution authorizing the deal.

In 2013, the county had planned to purchase the property as open space, with the goal being to make it a park and fitness trail. The proposal would have required Riverhead Town to pay for the cost of creating the park, which officials said at the time would cost about $76,000, and to maintain the park in the future.

As the Town Board was considering the resolution to approve the town’s part in the open space arrangement, Councilwoman Jodi Giglio and Councilman George Gabrielsen objected, saying the town doesn’t have the money to build the park, and instead arguing that the county should preserve the land as farmland. The two penned an opinion piece with the News-Review arguing the same.

With Supervisor Sean Walter abstaining on the issue because he once represented Mr. Broidy as an attorney, the open space plan lacked the three votes necessary to be gain approval, and the Town Board’s other two members eventually threw their support behind the farmland preservation plan.

Under the farmland preservation scenario, the county would purchase the development rights from the land, which is actively farmed, and it could continue to be farmed, but could not be developed.

The county has never publicly revealed what the purchase price would have been as open space.

Ms. Giglio brought up the fact that the county legislature was voting on the farmland preservation resolution during Tuesday’s Riverhead Town Board meeting.

“Hopefully, this land will remain a farm for another couple hundred years and it won’t be a park, so we won’t have to worry about maintaining it or spending any money,” she said.

She and Mr. Gabrielsen have argued that this land has been farmed for more than 200 years.

Mr. Broidy had proposed a commercial shopping center on the property in 2003, around the same time that EMB Enterprises, headed by Kenney Barra, proposed a commercial development on the northeast corner of Sound Avenue and Park Road.

The Town Board at the time rezoned both properties, as well as property on the south side of Sound Avenue, in response to opposition from Reeves Park residents toward the commercial applications. That resulted in lawsuits being filed by all property owners.

While Mr. Barra and the property owner on the south side of Sound Avenue, R & K Precision Autoworks, prevailed in their lawsuits against the town’s rezoning, Mr. Broidy had been working on a settlement of his lawsuit.

The land owned by Mr. Barra eventually was purchased by the county as well two years ago, and is now a September 11, 2001 Memorial Park.

tgannon@timesreview.com

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