Actress Rossellini plays role in land conservation

Actress Isabella Rossellini chats with some local environmentalist Actress Isabella Rossellini chats with some local environmentalist after a news conference. (May 9, 2006) Photo Credit: Alan Raia

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Acclaimed actress and environmentalist Isabella Rossellini has donated the development rights to land she owns in Brookhaven hamlet to the Peconic Land Trust for conservation.

The Peconic Land Trust announced that Rossellini had bought 27 acres in Brookhaven hamlet last January, with the intent of preserving the land.

The parcel, named South Country Farms, was once owned by the Marist Brothers Catholic group, and recently zoned for up to 12 residential lots. Rossellini's donation of the development rights to about 21 acres of the land ensures that it will remain pristine, according to the land trust.

The donation, completed last month, "extinguishes most of the development rights on 20.8 acres of property, and limits future development to one single-family residence and one guesthouse provided that they are associated with the conservation purposes of the easement," according to a release from the Peconic Land Trust. "Structures related to the agricultural use of the property will be allowed under the terms of the easement."

Rossellini plans to clear about seven acres of the conserved land for farming operations, and to keep the remaining land as woodland. She remains owner of the land.

Trust president John V.H. Halsey said the donation of development rights can be an effective way for private landowners to help local conservation.

"They're a terrific tool that really work in many different contexts," Halsey said Tuesday. "There's the necessity of the land being protected for perpetuity, the land must have conservation value, and it provides a charitable gift."

"Always my intention in purchasing the property was to conserve the property and to establish an organic farm there," Rossellini said in the release.

Rossellini, who is the daughter of director Roberto Rossellini and actress Ingrid Bergman and known for her work in films such as "Blue Velvet" and "Big Night," has had a home in Bellport since the late 1980s, when she became enamored of the community during visits to photographer Bruce Weber.

She has been involved in other environmental projects in Brookhaven, including the conservation of an adjacent nine-acre preserve with the town, Suffolk County, and the Post-Morrow Foundation, according to the Peconic Land Trust.

Rossellini said she wants to work with farmer Patty Gentry of Early Girl Farm to establish an organic farm on the newly conserved property. "My interest in purchasing the property, and establishing an organic farm, is to do something for my community," Rossellini said.

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