"Today" host Matt Lauer considers the swimming pool on his Water Mill neighbor's property a possible danger to horse riders and wants to plant more trees to protect them, his neighbors' attorney said in a statement Monday night.
The neighbors, Jack and Jodi Wasserman, are fighting Lauer's plan to plant 42 trees and dozens of shrubs on the northern edge of his property. The trees would block their bucolic view of Lauer's 40-acre Bright Side Farm and violate restrictions on the property, they have argued.
The Wassermans' attorney, Patrick Fife, said in an emailed statement that Lauer appeared and testified about his concerns during the Town of Southampton Planning Board hearing on Thursday.
Neither Lauer nor his attorneys could immediately be reached for comment.
Fife said Lauer and his attorneys claimed there is a "dangerous risk" to riders and horses because part of the farm's horse trail is located near the pool and backyard of the Wassermans' house on Farrell Court, and that noise from the Wassermans' property can spook horses on the trail.
"Mr. Lauer himself testified that he is concerned that a severe incident of spooking can occur, and he fears for the safety of his wife and daughter when they are riding on the trail," Fife wrote.
Fife said in the statement that Lauer claims the only way to make his property safe is to plant 42 trees ranging in height from 6 feet to 18 feet and 194 shrubs along the north boundary, with the majority along the perimeter of the Wassermans' property.
Fife said the fault for creating "this supposedly dangerous situation rests one hundred percent with the Lauers."
Planning board member Philip A. Keith confirmed Monday night that Lauer and his attorneys attended the meeting and that the "Today" host testified at length about the possible dangers.
Keith said the public will likely have another three weeks to send their comments to the board "before we close the public hearing and a decision is reached. . . . I don't think it will be back on the agenda for final resolution until September."
"The Wassermans' pool and backyard existed before the Lauers built out their horse farm and trail, and the Lauers nevertheless decided to place part of their trail right alongside the Wassermans' property," Fife said.
Additionally, he said in the statement, planting large trees would violate the site plan and other restrictions on the property, "all of which strictly prohibit landscaping on the farm that would obstruct its open views."
Fife said adding trees "will not prevent noise from their dog or a ball from reaching the trail. If the Lauers truly believe any actions from the Wasserman property will spook a horse and create a danger, the simple and only viable solution for the Lauers is to move their allegedly dangerous stretch of trail a safe distance from the Wassermans' yard and onto another portion of their 40-acre farm."