As Southold Town gathers estimates from appraisal companies in preparation for condemnation of a tract of land in Mattituck, the Brinkmann family, which owns the parcel, say they will fight any attempt to seize the property by eminent domain and called the move “an abuse of power.”
The 1.8-acre parcel has long been under scrutiny by the town and locals, who have voiced unhappiness with the Brinkmanns’ plan to build a hardware store at the congested corner of Main Road and New Suffolk Avenue.
After numerous public hearings, civic meetings, negotiations and outcries against the Brinkmann family’s efforts to transform that corner in the heart of Mattituck’s business district, the Town Board used its legal authority last Tuesday to prevent construction of the proposed 20,000-square-foot structure. Board members voted to acquire the property by way of eminent domain, for creation of a passive park or village green. The decision was made in a 5-1 vote, with Councilman Jim Dinizio casting the single no vote.
The board’s action was condemned by the Brinkmann family. In a statement to The Suffolk Times, Hank Brinkmann wrote on behalf of the family: “The recent actions taken by the Town Board against our family and our property rights are wrong and immoral. If this Town Board had wanted a park on that corner it would have been there years ago. Neither Scott Russell, nor this Town Board, showed any real interest in creating a park on this corner until after my family had hundreds of thousands invested in this property. The park became a convenient excuse for the Town Board to prevent my family from doing business in Mattituck.
“Obviously, the building moratorium they started with was indeed targeted at my family and was a failed approach to stopping us from developing our land and exercising our property rights.
“They have now resorted to taking the very dangerous action of Eminent Domain. Their use of Eminent Domain as a reactionary tool to block development is clearly not its intended purpose … We will defend our rights and fight this unjust government seizure of land. This abuse of power should never be allowed to happen to anyone!”
In an interview last week, town attorney Bill Duffy said, “For years, there has been great interest from the local community for a park/village green near the Love Lane area in Mattituck and previous studies have identified this property as a possible park location.”
Mr. Duffy said that the town made many attempts to acquire the property before the Brinkmanns acquired it in December 2018.
These included a town-county preservation partnership effort last September that was rejected by then-owner BNB Bank. The move toward eminent domain came two weeks after a public hearing on a resolution that proposed extending the six-month building moratorium already in effect. The moratorium, originally enacted in February, was set to expire this month, but the board unanimously agreed to extend it another six months.
Mr. Duffy could not be reached Tuesday for updates on the appraisal status, though he did explain last week that the Town Board is open to negotiating with the Brinkmanns up until an appraised value for the property has been determined. Next steps include running a title report, scheduling a public hearing to determine the property’s public purpose and settling on a purchase price.
Brinkmann Hardware Corp. currently has stores in Sayville, Blue Point, Holbrook and Miller Place and also operates VanKemenade Paint in Jamesport. They first submitted an application for the Mattituck property in 2017.