Southampton buys land to preserve open space

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Southampton Town this week acquired more land under its open space program.

The town board approved five resolutions at a meeting Wednesday, authorizing the purchase of 53 acres for $14.2 million.

Some of the land will be preserved as open space. About 34 acres will continue to be privately owned and will have development rights, or covenants on the land that prohibit its development.

The largest of the acquisitions, about 23 acres on Montauk Highway in Sagaponack, is contiguous to the Poxabogue Pond area, and will include a hiking trail on the westerly property. About 6 acres will be kept by the owners, Dogwood Associates and Linda Held, for development possibilities, according to the town.

Joseph Gazza, a developer, has donated 9.2 acres in the North Sea, Northampton and Westhampton areas. He transferred the development rights from those parcels to other properties he owns in those towns, said Mary Wilson, Southampton's community preservation manager.

Three other parcels -- 16 acres in Water Mill, 3.7 acres in Bridgehampton and 1 acre in Remsenburg/Speonk -- were also purchased.

The fund, generated with a 2 percent tax on real estate sales that exempts the first $250,000 of a home purchase in the town, can only be used to buy land in environmentally appropriate areas.

The town recently approved bonding up to $30 million for preservation, with the money derived from the fund to pay the loan. Wilson said the recent purchases most likely will be paid from reserves already in the fund.

Since 1999, Southampton has obtained 3,380 acres in either open land purchases or development rights.

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