A couple living on an 8.2-acre property on Town Line Road in Wainscott want to take advantage of the agricultural easement that covers 6.8 acres of the property to house four rescued horses. Two years after they first filed a site plan with the East Hampton Town Planning Board, and after having successfully fended off a lawsuit from a neighbor, their proposal is still before the planning board. “They are only trying to rescue horses,” Brian DeSesa, their attorney, said on the phone Monday.
The property at 55 Town Line Road is located on the east side of the street. A huge evergreen privet stands between the road and the property, which includes a single-family house, a swimming pool, and a tennis court, which are located on the northern 1.5 acres on the property. The southern 6.8 acres of potential farmland is contiguous to more of the same on a property accessed from Wainscott Hollow Road to the east.
The property was created as the result of the Orchard at Wainscott subdivision of 1984. DeSesa declined to identify the owners, who formed an LLC called 55 Town Line. According to the public record of the deed sale, the couple paid almost $19 million for the property in 2015.
The easement on the property allows the construction of “buildings and structures reasonably necessary for agricultural operations actually being conducted,” according to JoAnne Pahwul, assistant director of the East Hampton Town Planning Department.
What the owners of the property want to build are two paddocks, four 8-by-12-foot horse shelters, and an 8-by-12-foot feed shed. There also would be an area on the property where a truck being used in conjunction with the operation, and horse fencing. There would be a limit of four rescued horses on the property at any one time, DeSesa said. The couple are currently paying to board four rescued horses at an area stable, he said. Manure would be stored, then removed, on a regular basis from the property.
The owners of a neighboring property, Strong Real Estate LLC, brought sued in New York State Supreme Court in an attempt to stop the construction of the horse structures. That suit was dismissed in April 2017. Strong Real Estate LLC is now appealing that dismissal at the appellate level, DeSesa said.
In the meantime, the planning board took another look at the site plan application at its October 24 meeting.
Board members questioned the presence of the hedgerow on Town Line Road. Ed Krug asked if the hedges were, in fact, a violation, a thought Kathleen Cunningham echoed. She said that the hedge seems to fly in the face of the intent of the easement, which she believes is meant to provide open agricultural vistas. “It is definitely blocking open space,” she said. DeSesa said on Monday that the property has never been cited for a violation, and believes the hedges fit in under the language of the easement.
Ian Calder-Piedmonte, an owner of Balsam Farms, cautioned fellow board members against interpreting “what is farming and what is not.” He said that contemporary farming on the East End is “not all potatoes and corn anymore.”
The board’s chairman, Job Potter, pointed out that there appeared to have been landscaping done in the area meant for agricultural use. He said that the landscaping should be removed as a condition for board’s approving the site plan.
Nancy Keeshan asked if the applicant could do more to move the proposed structures from neighboring properties, an idea other board members agreed with. DeSesa said Monday that he was conferring with the owners on redrawing the survey before the board, to accommodate the planning board’s thoughts.