Representatives of television personality Matt Lauer will appear before the Southampton Town Planning Board next week to pitch plans for a modest additional house on the “Today” show host’s property in Water Mill to house employees of the sprawling horse farm.
The Planning Board will hold a hearing on Thursday, August 8, at 1 p.m. on a proposal to build a 2,200-square-foot, four-bedroom house on the property. The proposal says the house will accommodate up to four people.
The 30-acre horse farm was established about a year after Southampton Town paid previous owner Michael Graham $3.6 million in 2005 to purchase development rights on the land to preserve it from residential development. A former nursery, the property was designated for agricultural use only.
Nonetheless, Mr. Graham was reportedly asking $10 million for the land for use as a horse farm just before Mr. Lauer purchased it. A state judge in the 1990s declared that horse farms are agricultural uses and permitted on preserved lands. Courts have generally allowed the construction of buildings on agricultural reserves that are considered part of the farm operation, even if development rights on the land have been sold.
Since Mr. Lauer purchased the property, more than 50,000 square feet of buildings—about equal, in total, to the Kmart store in the Bridgehampton Commons—including a 24,000-square-foot indoor riding ring and a 17,000-square-foot-stable, have been built on the property. There is already an approximately 2,100-square-foot house on the property, also used to house staff, that was built before Mr. Lauer bought the property.
The Planning Board also will hold a public hearing next week on another agricultural housing application for a newly purchased 9.5-acre parcel of agricultural land in Bridgehampton owned by the Foster family. The application for Rabbit Run calls for a one-story house of approximately 1,300 square feet to be built at an unspecified time in the future on the land, which currently contains a series of agricultural hoop-style greenhouses.
The application, which also calls for the construction of a 2,400-square-foot barn on the property, says the house would accommodate a farm manager and two laborers.