A Southampton property owner accused of installing a 10-foot-high deer fence and privet hedging on the site of a 17th century cemetery will give the town a $10,000 “contribution” as part of a tentative settlement approved last week by the town.
Board members voted last Tuesday to accept the “stipulation of settlement” with Mirek Denis, whose Southampton Village home shares a boundary line with the Old Southampton Burying Ground on Little Plains Road.
The cemetery dates to 1648 and is the resting place of some of the town’s first settlers.
The agreement requires that the privet be removed and the remaining holes backfilled with topsoil and seed. The hedging is to be replanted in areas on the north side of the cemetery and Post Lane that are currently sparse or damaged.
In addition, a cease and desist letter dated Oct. 29, 2015, and issued by the town attorney when officials learned the fence had been erected is to be “rescinded in all aspects.” Officials were uncertain about when the fence was erected or the privets planted but said the fence had been removed by Nov. 1. The privets remain on the site, Town Clerk Sundy Schermeyer said.
The agreement states that the board “hereby accepts the donation of Mirek Denis in the amount of $10,000, to be allocated towards the public purpose of conserving and maintaining the Old Southampton Cemetery.” It adds that the comptroller’s office will deposit the money into the Historic Burying Ground Miscellaneous Revenue account.
Schermeyer said Monday that most of the $10,000 will be needed for remediation of the area where the approximately 200-foot-long fence and 150 hedges had been placed, and to relocate the privets.
She said the money will be used for a landscaper contracted by the town to fill in holes left from the fencing and privets being removed and to replant the hedges. The landscaper’s original estimate did not include replanting the privets, Schermeyer said.
Mara B. Levin, Denis’ Manhattan-based attorney, wrote in an email that her client has not yet signed the agreement. Schermeyer said town officials have also not signed the settlement, and added that she was “not aware” of a deadline for signing it.
In a statement issued through Levin’s office, Denis denied the allegations, but said the matter was amicably resolved.
“I am pleased to make a contribution for the continued preservation of this historical cemetery which we have always considered to be a treasured, respected and integral place in our Town,” he said.
Levin maintained that “the payment is properly characterized as a charitable contribution by Mr. Denis to the Town to be used for the preservation and maintenance of the cemetery.”
Newly appointed Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman said last week that both sides should be pleased with the settlement.
“It predates me, but it seems like it was resolved in a fair way,” Schneiderman said of the issue. “I’m certainly happy with the resolution of the matter.”