Some worry about losing scenic vistas

Sagaponack Eyes Deer Fence Moratorium

Some Sagaponack residents object to allowing deer fencing around farmland, complaining it will ruin the scenic vista. Independent/Stephen J. Kotz

The Sagaponack Village Board is dealing with a thorny issue: whether to allow deer fencing to be erected around a 34-acre farm.

Neighbors fear it will be the beginning of the end for one of the premier farm vistas on Long Island if granted. The debate has become high profile because Sagaponack, one of the most expensive zip codes in the country, houses a lot of bold-faced names. Jimmy Fallon lives down the road from the property. “The Tonight Show” host has not checked in on the matter, but numerous neighbors went on record opposing deer fencing not only at the location in question but anywhere.

The board is mulling a six-month moratorium, which would allow officials a chance to study the matter further and assess the impact of deer fencing on the vistas. More to the point, the village will also take a hard look at the deer population, perhaps with an eye on a deer control management program.

The owner of the land in question, Kim Lippman, is the wife of noted hedge-fund tycoon Greg Lippman — the shrewd investor played by Ryan Gosling in The Big Short. The couple owns a home adjacent to the property. Part of the lot in question, an agricultural reserve, is currently leased out by Lippman to Peter Dankowski, who grows oats and corn.

“They live in Brooklyn. The kids go to school there. The husband is a Wall Street guy,” said one neighbor, Prudential/Elliman real estate agent Paul Brennan. He called Kim Lippman’s plan to have an organic farm “dreams of grandeur, a hobby,” and one that, if left unchecked, will ruin the vistas forever.

“What happens if the next guy wants a deer fence, and then the next guy, and then the next guy?” Brennan asked.

Rhodi Winchell, the Clerk Treasurer of Sagaponack Village, said there are currently four agricultural reserve lots that have deer fencing on their perimeters. “We’ve never given permission to a residential property,” to erect deer fencing, Winchell said. That’s one reason why the deer population is thriving in the village, she added.

A decision on an application was expected at the board’s August 13 meeting but was postponed until August 23 or until an updated survey is submitted. But the village board may well decide to declare a moratorium that day, which will effectively freeze the application, Winchell said.

The application, under 129 Parsonage Lane LLC, indicated plans to grow berries and fruits on the parcel. There are also chickens and goats on the property. Village Mayor Donald Louchheim said the application was sent back to Lippman because he wanted to see a survey, and there might be some “encroachments” on the property, perhaps restricting its use.

Several neighbors suggested a smaller electric fence would be more effective at preventing deer from going on the property. Lippman, as owner, would also have a green light to shoot trespassing deer.

The village could initiate a controlled shoot to cull the deer herd.

John v. H. Halsey, founder of the Peconic Land Trust, said the law is quite clear that working farms may have deer fencing around their perimeters.

The Lippmans reportedly paid $15 million for their eight-bedroom spread complete with the requisite Sagaponack toys — tennis, heated pool, garage, and even a putting green. There is a barn on the ag reserve lot.