By Amy Patton
It’s the latest salvo fired by Noyac resident Bill Kirrane in an effort to halt what he and his family consider the unauthorized use by the Noyac Golf Club of a 50 by 100 foot parcel of what they say was formerly woodlands — occupied by trees and wildlife — adjacent to their property on Wildwood Road.
Attorneys for the golf club and the County of Suffolk — both who are named in a complaint filed by Kirrane — argue that he misunderstands how the property came into the club’s hands.
In the form of a letter sent to the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office by Kirrane last week, his complaint requests an investigation by DA Thomas Spota into a chain of events that eventually turned the tiny parcel back into the hands of the golf club after years of property taxes went unpaid.
Kirrane and his sister Maureen Kirrane Devlin, (Devlin currently lives at her home on the Wildwood Road property), say the visual blight caused by the current use of the land has been a source of irritation for years now.
“This issue is important to us,” the letter to Spota’s office reads. “Because the golf course is now using the lot for moving heavy equipment and it intends to build garages right behind our house.”
While the club’s president, Steve Maietta, admitted that the land is indeed used “to store materials that come off of the golf course, whether it be branches, tree stumps, mulch, that sort of thing,” he denied that any plans are in place to build any sort of structure there.
“I don’t know where [Kirrane] is getting this information,” Maietta said. “We have no designs or desire to build any sheds or garages near his property.”
The Kirrane family’s main gripe though, is that the golf club shouldn’t be in control or have ownership of the land in the first place.
Through the most recent letter to Spota’s office and an ongoing Article 78 lawsuit Kirrane filed last year in State Supreme Court, he argues the land should still belong to Suffolk County which, after unpaid taxes that were sent to the wrong party for years by the Town of Southampton, foreclosed on the property in 2001 and, as a result, in 2004, the parcel was turned into county-owned parkland. When the club, said Maietta, discovered the tax error, it offered to pay the back taxes on the tiny access road — which amounted to only several thousand dollars, he said, — due to its small size.
Suffolk County Legislator Jay Schneiderman, whose Sag Harbor office has worked with Kirrane over the past several years to sort out the matter and respond to his family’s complaints about the use of the land, said last week that, indeed, “Southampton Town made a mistake” when continuing to send the parcel’s tax bill to the wrong party.
In this case, Schneiderman added, the bill had been sent year after year “to a person who was deceased.”
Steve Latham, an East End-based attorney whose firm represents the Noyac Golf Club, defended his client’s rights to use the land for its operations, saying the club is the rightful owner — even according to the county — ever since it took responsibility for the back taxes.
Referring to Kirrane, Latham said his actions “defy logic,” and that “he obviously has too much time on his hands.” He added, “You won’t find anybody besides him and perhaps a family member who lives on that road that pays any attention to this.”
In the most recent letter sent to Spota’s office requesting assistance, Kirrane asked the DA to look into how Suffolk County can be allowed to “give away parkland without the approval of the state legislature.”
The club’s attorney, however, said that, according to his records, “The property never became [Suffolk] parkland,” and that “due to the town’s clerical error, the tax bills were never sent to the [golf club]. Thus, the county’s purported ‘acquisition’ of the property in 2004 was entirely erroneous.”
Kirrane has also stated his objection to the lot being granted an open space environmental easement by the Peconic Land Trust, which, he says, gives the Noyac Golf Club huge undeserved tax breaks for its operations because the small parcel has been deemed by the Trust to be a form of nature preserve.
However, John vH. Halsey, who serves as the president of the Land Trust, took the side of the golf club, writing in a letter to the Kirrane family following an investigation in July of 2012 that the property in question is “monitored annually” and that “there is no violation or basis to require the restoration of land.”
Said Latham Tuesday, “Mr. Kirrane continues to throw around his allegations as if they have some germ of truth.”
As for now, though, the Noyac family has vowed to continue the fight both in court and with its newest effort at enlisting the help of the DA’s office to halt the current use of the property by the club.
Representatives of the Suffolk’s District Attorney office did not reply to the Express for a response to Kirrane’s letter that was sent last week.