Court records: Judge sides with town in eminent domain fight

Southold Town has won another victory in a years-long battle to save a 1.75-acre parcel of land near a busy Mattituck intersection from being the site of a Brinkmann’s Hardware store.

In December, State Supreme Court Judge John Leo ruled that the town’s rights under eminent domain to seize the 1.75-acre property were appropriate. The ruling stated that the town must compensate the owners for the land. 

The decision is appealable, according to town officials. 

In May 2021, Ben and Hank Brinkmann filed a federal lawsuit against the town to stop the eminent domain process. That suit was dismissed in October and the brothers have appealed that ruling. The Brinkmanns had hoped to expand their hardware business with a 20,000-square-foot store on a wooded lot at the intersection of Main Road and New Suffolk Avenue.

The family purchased the property in 2016 for $700,000. The proposed project met with considerable community opposition on the grounds of traffic, environmental and safety concerns. A series of town-imposed building moratoriums also slowed the process, followed by the Town Board’s vote to initiate eminent domain proceedings with the goal of creating a community park on the property.

According to Thomas McKevitt, a New York City attorney working for the Brinkmann family, the suit in State Supreme Court was brought by the town to take the property by eminent domain. That is the case decided December 14 by State Supreme Court Judge Leo. In an email, Mr. McKevitt said, “The Town still needs to file the acquisition map with the Suffolk County Clerk (I have no evidence that they have done that yet to complete the condemnation process). Once the condemnation process is finished, the Court would then have to set a value for the property for the Brinkmanns to be compensated.”

Mr. McKevitt said there is a pending third action in State Supreme Court challenging the 2019 moratorium. That action has not been disposed, he said.