Rodeo in Coram denied permit for summer event

Al Lopez lives next door to Coram Equestrian,

Al Lopez lives next door to Coram Equestrian, which has hosted an allegedly boisterous rodeo event for the past three years. (Credit: Danielle Finkelstein)

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Brookhaven Town Clerk Donna Lent has denied a permit application for a Bronx-based traveling Latin rodeo seeking to host its fourth-annual event in Coram this summer.

Town officials recently discovered that Rodeo Tierra Caliente, which has held the event at Coram Equestrian since 2011, isn't in compliance with the Suffolk County Farmland Commission rules that relate to charging fees, allowing bleachers, having vendors and offering food.

The oversight was discovered last week after Lent sent the application to the head of the town's law department, which officials said had not been done in the past.

Joe Annunziata, 72, who owns Coram Equestrian, said he will resubmit the application in the coming weeks. The decision could be reversed if he meets the commission's requirements, officials said.

Coram Equestrian is located on private property along Mill Road for which Suffolk County and Brookhaven Town have development transfer rights that don't allow commercial use, town officials said.

The land is preserved for agricultural use as a farm, meaning horse shows that don't charge or have vendors or bleachers are allowed -- but not rodeos, town officials said.

In the past, the rodeo has been held on six Sundays during the summer.

Coram resident Al Lopez, 51, who lives adjacent to Coram Equestrian, said at last week's town board meeting, when the denial was handed down, that he is tired of the event.

Among his complaints are that many people in attendance urinate, yell obscenities, play loud music and have public sex near his property, Lopez said in an interview.

He complained to board members than an intoxicated person trespassed onto his property while his wife and child were home last year.

"This is so unruly and unsafe; we can't take it anymore. It's ruined our quality of life," Lopez said.

Annunziata told council members he was surprised by the comments.

"I feel like I'm fighting an uphill battle. I can honestly say (residents) have never discussed the rodeo [with me]," he said.

Brookhaven Town Councilwoman Connie Kepert, who represents Coram, said the rodeo has negatively impacted the community and has committed "many, many violations."

John Di Leonardo, president of Long Island Orchestrating for Nature, an animal rights group, said he is opposed to the rodeo show out of concern for animals' safety.

Centereach resident Paula Pollack, 65, who has gone to the rodeo since 2011, told the board she has never seen animals mistreated.

"I've never witnessed any animal cruelty. I've only witnessed families enjoying a day out. There are house parties louder than this event," she said.

Annunziata told the board he was shocked by concerns for animal safety.

"Frankly, I'm overwhelmed with the outright lies," he said. "I can't tell you there hasn't been an incident of some sort, but never cruelty to animals."

In response, Romaine said, "The decision was based simply on the fact that this is farmland," and that seating and vendor trucks aren't allowed on farm grounds.

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