Springs CAC Not Supportive Of CPF Acquisition

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A planned East Hampton Town Community Preservation Fund purchase doesn’t have the blessing of the Springs Citizens Advisory Committee.

The Catherine Lederer and Rodney Plaskett property at 115 Neck Path in Springs is under consideration as a possible CPF purchase for open space or recreational purposes for $2.7 million. The East Hampton Town Board held a public hearing regarding the acquisition of the parcel last Thursday, February 20, at which CAC member David Buda suggested the town take a closer look at the situation before going ahead with the purchase.

On Monday night, the Springs CAC expressed support of preserving the 16.5-acre parcel—but board members agree that the town could use the CPF money elsewhere while still preserving the land there.

Ms. Lederer and Mr. Plaskett received town approval in October for a subdivision of the property, which would require that they preserve 8 acres of that land, according to Mr. Buda. He said that if they reserve the back half of the property, it would expand the preserved greenbelt and trails running through Springs.

But the subdivision has not been approved yet. Mr. Buda is asking the town to wait to preserve those 8 acres as open space at no cost, rather than pay $2.7 million for the entire 16.5-acre parcel, with a 3,500-square-foot newly built home on it.

He said as one lot, it currently produces $25,000 in total taxes, but once it becomes subdivided, it becomes more valuable. “They would be allowed to create two smaller lots south of the house lot, but it would be retained as a 4-acre lot,” he said. “There would be three very nice homes paying taxes, and we’d get the preserved land as a default instead of paying $2.7 million …”

CAC member Reg Cornelia agreed. “Every purchase is a reduction in tax,” he said, explaining that once a property is bought through the CPF, it gets taken off the tax rolls. “Economically, I just don’t see the sense in buying a house that has to be maintained, torn down and the pool filled in.”

What to do with the house on the property is another issue. Since it is not a historic building, the town could not use CPF monies for maintenance and renovation, and the building would have to be used for recreation. But the type of recreation is in question; the Town Board liaison to the CAC, Fred Overton, joked that he suggested it be used as something similar to a Camp David for the Town Board.

The Town Board will continue the discussion at the first work session on March 4.

The CAC resolved to send a letter to the Town Board, asking it to keep the public hearing open for longer than the 10 days it had set at last week’s meeting because it opposes the current proposal.

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