Quogue officials could approve the sale of a 1.3-acre plot of village-owned waterfront land on Dune Road for a quarter of a million dollars this Friday.
After tabling the proposed sale last month to allow for public comment—a step Mayor Peter Sartorius maintains to have been unnecessary—the Village Board will pick up the issue of whether it should allow two Quogue families to purchase the canal-side property, with the intention of using it to build a private dock and walkway, at its meeting on Friday afternoon.
The property in question, a marshy patch of wetlands at 155 Dune Road, was donated to the village by John J. and George B. Post in 2000. Village records show the land was donated with no stipulations as to how the property could be utilized.
Mr. Sartorius said the $250,000 price was determined by an outside appraiser and all parties involved have agreed that it is a fair price. He added that the money would be put toward a future capital works project in the village, but he declined to say what it would involve. “It’ll be held, but I’m not going designate it at this point,” he said of the money.
Despite the mayor’s nonchalance, a municipality selling land, particularly waterfront property, to a private party is unusual, especially in Southampton Town, Trustee Eric Shultz said last week.
Mr. Shultz, president of the Board of Trustees, said it is within the village’s right to sell the land, but it is also unusual, adding that he cannot recall any other instance of a municipality selling a piece of waterfront property.
“Once we get a piece of land, we usually keep it preserved in the state that it’s in,” Mr. Shultz said of the Town Trustees.
But that doesn’t bother Mr. Sartorius. “As far as I’m concerned, I think it’s fine,” he said this week.
The parcel was once part of a larger swath of land that the Post family, one of the oldest families in Quogue, subdivided into four smaller sections in the 1980s, according to village records. The western two parcels—lot one measuring 1.21 acres, and lot two measuring 1.25 acres—were sold to private buyers in 2000 and 2004, respectively, according to town records, and now have homes on them.
Lot three, which is mostly wetland, was donated to the village in 1987 after Suffolk County determined it would be a septic hazard and should remain unimproved, Mr. Sartorius said, leaving the fourth and final property, the easternmost plot, which was donated to the village in 2000. Mr. Sartorius said he didn’t know the circumstances that led the Posts to donate the land.
Robert Friedman, a New York City real estate attorney who owns a home on the ocean side of Dune Road, has been trying to buy village land to build a dock since 2010, originally targeting lot three, which is directly across from the plot he purchased in 2005.
Village records show that Mr. Friedman drafted clarification documents in 2010 for the Posts that would have declared that nothing could prevent him from building a dock and a walkway on lot three. Those documents were never signed.
Mr. Friedman contacted Mr. Sartorius in December 2012 seeking to purchase lot four along with the Doctoroff family, who also live on Dune Road.
After three months of discussion, the village decided to have the piece of land appraised by Southampton-based Hampton Appraisal Service Corporation, with Mr. Friedman picking up the $2,750 tab for the appraisal. With the restrictions that only a single private, unlit, low walkway and dock could be built on the land, and that dock could not be sold or rented separately, Hampton Appraisal determined that the property was worth $250,000.
Last year, the property had an assessed value of more than $3 million, but it was not on the tax rolls since it is owned by the village.
“From the tax standpoint, it’s beneficial to the village and the town, because it’s going back on the tax rolls, and I’ll be paying taxes to the village and town and school district,” Mr. Friedman said.
Despite working in Manhattan, Mr. Friedman said he and his wife, Micki are at their Dune Road home most weeks, and their two grown children visit them frequently.
The Doctoroffs no longer are accompanying the Friedmans in the pursuit of the property; instead, Ray and Natharon Goodman, who also live on Dune Road, are seeking to become co-owners of the property.
If approved Friday, the sale would not be final until the Friedmans and Goodmans get approval to build the structure from various agencies, including the Town Trustees and the state Department of Environmental Conservation.
As part of the conditions of the sale, no further improvements would be allowed on the property, which would prevent the new owners from building a house there.
Mr. Friedman added that the walkway and dock, which he said would take about a year to secure approval for and build, would not be noticeable to most passersby.
“Nobody would even know—from Dune Road it would not even be visible,” he said. “It’s very comparable to the type of walkways that are all along Dune Road.”