By Claire Walla
With their eyes set on a 90-acre parcel of land in Sagaponack, Southampton Town officials will consider spending the most money to date on a Community Preservation Fund (CPF) purchase.
The long mass of open farmland, Haney Farms, LLC, which stretches the distance between Sagaponack Village Hall and Townline BBQ on the south side of Montauk Highway, currently belongs to the Foster family. The family has sought Community Preservation Fund (CPF) money from the Town of Southampton in exchange for the development rights to the land.
Because negotiations are still underway, the town has declined to comment on the exact price of the purchase. However, Southampton Town CPF Manager Mary Wilson confirmed it would be the largest expenditure of CPF money since the fund was created back in 1999.
“Part of what’s making this possible for the town is that it’s an installment sale,” Wilson explained.
In other words, the town’s payments will be spread out over five years.
Wilson added that the town has done this only one time before, for oceanfront property (also in Sagaponack) belonging to the White family, which overall totaled $16 million.
On Tuesday, June 14 there will be a public hearing on the 90-acre property —82 acres of which would be part of the sale — at Southampton Town Hall.
“It’s an important target for the town,” said Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst on Wednesday. “It represents what the fund is there to do. If you imagine that stretch of land from one end to the other with houses and buildings, it changes the character of the land.”
“From an environmental perspective,” she continued, “it’s important for the town to consider.”
Passed by voters 12 years ago, CPF legislation ensures that a two-percent real estate transfer tax be set aside for each of the five towns on the East End to use for purchasing and subsequently preserving undeveloped lands.
According to Wilson, the purchase of the Haney property would benefit the Foster family down the road because the property value would decrease over time with a town easement.
“If estate planning hasn’t been done, when the landowners pass away taxes are so high often families can’t afford to keep the land,” Wilson said.
The exact savings varies depending on the situation, but Wilson noted such a sale can lower property values by 75 to 80 percent.
“It’s a good thing for those farm families who want to keep farming,” she said.