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Coin toss determines who receives ‘New York Rising’ lot in Flanders

The Flanders, Riverside and Northampton Community Association’s giveaway of 12 small “New York Rising” lots that were damaged during superstorm Sandy in 2012 came down to the final parcel Monday. And the new owner of the quarter-acre lot was decided by, of all things, a coin toss. 

Tomasz and Anna Lepski, whose property sits directly north of the New York Rising parcel at the northeast corner of Longneck Boulevard and Pine Street, were the winners. Their competition came from Margaret and Andrew Hagan, whose property is across Pine Street from the lot. 

But when FRNCA board members couldn’t come up with a way to choose between them, they resorted to a coin toss. 

By state law, the land could only be given or sold to a municipality or a charity. 

“Nobody wanted it,” said FRNCA president Vince Taldone. “It would just be more responsibility for them, and all the restrictions placed on the land were there already.” 

The lots were initially bought by the state, the land was cleared and covenants were enacted prohibiting it from being developed. But since neither the state, Southampton Town nor any local not-for-profit charities were interested in them, a nonprofit group was sought to take over the land.

Ultimately, FRNCA ended up with the properties and began looking for people who would take them. 

FRNCA had decided that only people who own property adjacent to, or across the street from, a New York Rising lot would qualify, according to Mr. Taldone. 

Most of the transactions went smoothly, he said. A few times, when more than one neighbor wanted a lot, it was suggested that the land be subdivided, he said, but it was ultimately decided that just one neighbor would get each lot. 

The new owners are responsible for paying property taxes on the lots, and can’t build there. They each also have to maintain the land, pay $1,000 to a FRNCA beautification fund and reimburse FRNCA for costs incurred during the transactions. 

Mr. Taldone said the process was more trouble than it was worth for FRNCA. 

“I will never get involved in a project like this again,” he said. 

“We’ve been doing this for over a year and we don’t want to choose one person over the other, so it’s just going to be by luck,” FRNCA board member Kathy Kruel said. 

Mr. Lepski had sought to raise a complaint, asking for documentation that FRNCA had shown each property to whoever was interested, but FRNCA argued that they should do the coin toss first, and if Mr. Lepski won, he wouldn’t need to raise that argument. 

The transaction will still need to go to closing before it is finalized, Mr. Taldone said.