So what’s at stake locally if county Legislator Kara Hahn’s bill calling for the county to re-evaluate it’s land preservation program is approved?
Despite some news reports, three big open space acquisitions pending in Riverhead Town would be unaffected, county officials said.
The bill proposed by Ms. Hahn (D-Setauket) would halt all land preservation efforts for 90 days while the county re-examines the program and re-prioritizes the proposed purchases. At the end of the 90 days, the county could decide not to move forward with some proposals it had previously decided to take “planning steps” to acquire.
But landowners already in contract with the county would not be affected under the bill.
And according to county Legislator Ed Romaine (R-Center Moriches), the owners of three high profile properties slated for land acquisition in Riverhead all have signed contracts.
These properties are the 150-acre Beagle Club on Edwards Avenue in Calverton, which the county is proposing to buy for $8.9 million; the 4.1 acre EMB Enterprises property — whose chief principal is developer Kenn Barra — on Park Road and Sound Avenue, which the county is proposing to buy for $1.2 million; and the 15-acre Boom Development property — whose chief principal is Ed Broidy — on the other side of Park Road and Sound Avenue.
The Beagle Club purchase, which the Legislature recently tabled, appears to have sparked the recent public debate over the open space program. (See related story.) The Barra property is being planned as a hamlet park and Sept. 11 memorial.
Mr. Broidy, when contacted by a reporter, said he is unsure of the status of his property, which he had planned to develop, and was not aware of Ms. Hahn’s bill. He said he had no comment on the proposed legislation but would look into it further.
Riverhead Supervisor Sean Walter said he was unfamiliar with Ms. Hahn’s bill, but would oppose any legislation that undoes ongoing preservation efforts for which contracts have been signed.
“Anybody in the pipeline now that has a signed contract should be finished up,” he said. “You can’t expect landowners to work with the county to buy open space and then at the 11th hour pull the plug on them.”
Attorney Peter Danowski said there is still no guarantee that the county is going to follow through on acquisitions, even if certain properties are exempt from the proposed bill’s provisions.
“Just because it’s outside the parameters of this bill doesn’t mean the county won’t pull the rug out on any deal at a later time,” he said. Until the county signs the contract, he tells clients to follow through on any development proposals they have pending.
Mr. Danowski represents several clients whose properties are slated for acquisition or development rights acquisition, including Mr. Barra and several owners of farmland.