Special Report: Who pays the highest taxes on the North Fork?

TIM KELLY PHOTO | The 434-acre Robins Island pays more property taxes in Southold Town than any other residential property owned by an individual.

This is Part II of a two-part series detailing which property owners pay the most taxes on the North Fork. This part covers Southold Town, while part I covered Riverhead.

Think your property taxes are high? Be thankful you don’t get the bill for Robins Island.

Then again, you don’t get to stay in a beautiful manor house fashioned after the never-completed original, which was abandoned in 1918 after the owner’s wife died in the Spanish Flu pandemic. Nor can you stroll the five miles of untouched bayfront, which by special state legislation is off limits to us, or hunt pheasants in the expansive woods and open fields.

When the tax bill for Robins Island arrives in the mail, Wall Street billionaire Louis Moore Bacon must shell out $207,751.87 for the 434-acre property. The island is part of the New Suffolk School District, which has the lowest tax rate of Southold’s five school systems.

The property is assessed at $319,300, which according to the town translates to a full market value of $28,765,000. Mr. Bacon bought the island out of bankruptcy court in 1993 for $11 million. The previous owners, father and son German investors Herbert and Claus Mittermayer, paid $1.3 million when they acquired the property in 1979.

The island holds the distinction of being the highest assessed and highest taxed residential property in Southold Town controlled by a single owner.

With help from the town assessor’s office, particularly Assessor Kevin Webster, here’s an accounting of the other top tax generators in Southold, including residential and commercial properties.


Other highly taxed residential properties include the 30-acre Mattituck estate of James Bissett, an owner of the Long Island Aquarium in Riverhead, who died last year. That property is taxed more than $105,000 yearly. The 40-acre Norris estate, also in Mattituck, pays more than $103,000.

The most heavily taxed undeveloped residential property is found along the Sound in Orient. Sno-Bo LLC owns the 12.62-acre parcel, for which it pays just over $13,000 yearly.

On the commercial side, the Mattituck Plaza shopping center on Route 25 is number one among developed sites in Southold. The home of Waldbaum’s supermarket and Rite-Aid drug store, among others, is taxed at $238,103.25.

The former Santorini Soundfront motel in Cutchogue, which now belongs to the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers union (IBEW), is taxed at $98.273.05.

The highest taxed undeveloped commercial property is found on Main Road in Southold. The mostly wooded 2.25 acres across the street from the Feather Hill shopping complex are owned by Barkoff Properties LLC, which pays $8,426.03. In the past, the property was considered a potential location for Southold’s second CVS pharmacy (the first stands on the site of the old Mattituck Lanes bowling alley), but no construction proposal was ever filed with the town.

Comparing numbers with neighboring Riverhead, Mr. Bacon, as owner of Southold’s top taxed residential property, Robins Island, is charged far more than Jamesport’s Robert Entenmann, whose Sound Avenue house, surrounded by Martha Clara Vineyards, is taxed at $56,900 a year.

But Southold’s most expensive commercial property pales in comparison with Riverhead’s tax leader, the Tanger II outlets complex, with pays close to $2.5 million each year. Together, Tanger I and II pay $4.1 million in property taxes.

Riverhead has at least eight commercial properties, including the Kmart/BJs complex and Splish Splash water park, that pay more in property taxes than any business in Southold.

The highest tax bill of any kind in Southold goes to Peconic Landing in Greenport, which pays a whopping $1,342,522.02 each year. Considered neither commercial nor residential, the adult residential life care facility includes 109 cottages, 141 apartments and a 34-room nursing home on 144 acres between the Sound and Route 25.

Since Peconic Landing is a co-op, that $1.34 million tax bill is shared by the residents. Perhaps the most visible and recognizable part of Peconic Landing is Brecknock Hall, a restored stone manor house built for a nephew of Declaration of Independence signer William Floyd.

As they do elsewhere, utilities pay a premium in Southold Town. The Long Island Power Authority pays $563,380.48 in taxes on its Greenport property and $106,543.58 on its property in the hamlet of Southold. Also in Greenport, the Moore’s Lane generating station, leased from the village by Hawkeye Energy Greenport LLC, is taxed $565,802.53. The tax bill lists the village as owner of this property, but Greenport does not carry any of the tax burden.

Southold Town’s Top 10 Taxpayers

1. Peconic Landing — $1,342,522.02
2. Village of Greenport (Hawkeye Energy) — $565,802.53
3. L.I. Power Authority, Greenport — $563,380.48.
4. Mattituck Plaza — $238,103.35.
5. Robins Island — $207,751.87.
6. Laurel Links Country Club — $111,123.21.
7. L.I. Power Authority, Southold — $106,543.58.
8. James J. Bissett III — $105,585.93.
9. Susan Norris — $103,284.09.
10. E&C Property Holding (IBEW) — $98,273.05.

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