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Southold approves purchase of development rights to nearly 107 acres

The Town of Southold approved the purchase of the development rights and easements on nearly 107 acres of land in Cutchogue from Mattituck Farm Holdings, LLC at a town board meeting Tuesday night.

The town approved the $6 million purchase through the Community Preservation Fund to preserve the property for its “agricultural value and its value as an aquifer recharge area.” The land, which is in the agricultural conservation zoning district, is active farmland “comprised of prime soils” and listed on the Community Preservation Project Plan list of eligible parcels. 

At a public hearing, Southold’s land preservation coordinator Melissa Spiro thanked the landowner for offering the development rights at a price “substantially” lower than their appraised value. She noted the significance of the parcels — located along Oregon Road, Alvahs Lane, Depot Lane and County Road 48 — speculating that as a cumulative project it may be the largest farmland development rights purchase made under the town’s program. 

“A typical project involves one, maybe two tax parcels. This project is a bit more complicated as it involves multiple tax parcels, resulting in six separate easements,” she said. “Preservation of these properties will expand and connect existing blocks of preserved farms and … will result in a large contiguous block of preserved farmland.” 

Mattituck Farm Holdings owns approximately 256 acres of contiguous tax parcels in the area, according to Ms. Spiro. Of those acres, 136 were already subject to town or county development right easements, leaving about 120 with development rights intact. The town’s newly approved purchase is among those 120 acres. 

Ms. Spiro said as part of the acquisition conditions, the development areas have been placed so that they will remain permanently attached to the preserved farm areas, some of which are vacant or “contain existing dwellings or other improvements.”  

Melanie Cirillo, vice president at Peconic Land Trust — which helped facilitate the acquisition — thanked the town and landowner at the public hearing as well. 

“It’s a significant property, actively farmed, beautiful prime soils,” she said. “We’re so appreciative that the landowner was so willing to negotiate and work with the town to protect this property.”