Land including Santa’s Christmas Tree Farm in Cutchogue is slated to be auctioned off in Suffolk County Surrogates Court Tuesday, July 9, beginning at 10 a.m.
The land is part of the estate of Lewis Edson, who died June 20, 2013, and has been the subject of an ongoing dispute among three of his children.
Santa’s Christmas Tree Farm, which occupies two of the three parcels up for auction, is a family-owned business that has been in operation for more than 30 years on Main Road in Cutchogue.
On May 20, Surrogate Court Judge Theresa Whelan ordered that unless the parties involved could agree on a different neutral third party at or before a meeting with her on June 5, Suffolk County public administrator Matthew Kiernan would be appointed for the limited purpose of selling the properties and collecting the proceeds.
No agreement was reached, according to Ernest Wruck, the attorney for Mr. Kiernan, so the auction was scheduled. He said the courts will determine how proceeds will be distributed.
The two Christmas tree farm lots up for auction are a 5.29-acre lot fronting Route 25, which includes 8,064-square-foot retail building and single-family residence, and a 22.5-acre lot to the north where Christmas trees are grown. The development rights for the latter have been sold to Suffolk County, meaning that only agricultural uses are allowed there.
Those properties are being auctioned together, according to Mr. Wruck.
The other property up for auction, which is not part of the Christmas tree business, comprises 0.28 acres at the intersection of Route 25 and Moore’s Lane, across the lane from North Fork Country Club. That parcel includes one vacant building that was most recently occupied by a psychic and Tarot card reader.
According to an auction announcement posted in The Suffolk Times and Riverhead News-Review last week, the minimum bids are $1.8 million for the two farm parcels and $375,000 for the other property.
Some real estate listings have the same properties on the market at higher amounts.
The properties ended up in Surrogates Court due to a dispute among three of Mr. Edson’s children, according to attorney Anthony Palumbo. He is representing Lisa Edson and Evans Edson, who were named executors of the estate and are beneficiaries.
The third sibling, Channing Edson Marrinan, is represented by attorney Adam Grossman and is a beneficiary, but was not named an executor, according to Mr. Palumbo.
“There’s a dispute as to the value,” Mr. Palumbo said. “The court appointed a public administrator to auction it off.”
Mr. Grossman declined to comment on the case.
Court papers indicate that Channing Edson Marrinan’s objections focused on Lisa and Evans Edson’s “alleged self-dealing by continuing the decedent’s sole proprietorship without leave of court or authorization under the will, and the use of estate assets to do so.”
Judge Whelan ordered May 20 that Lisa Edson and Evans Edson be “suspended” from running the business “pending a hearing on their removal.”
Mr. Palumbo said his clients believe it was Lewis Edson’s intent that they take over the business after he died.