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Lauer seeks delay in decision on tree-planting plan at his Water Mill horse farm

"Today" host Matt Lauer's 40-acre Bright Side Farm in Water Mill is seen in this photo from April 29, 2015. Credit: Doug Kuntz

"Today" show host Matt Lauer has asked the Southampton Town planning board to delay a decision on his proposal to plant dozens of trees and shrubs at his Water Mill horse farm.

The deadline for planning board members to make a decision in the dispute between Lauer and a neighbor who is fighting the plan is expected to be extended until at least next month.

Southampton Town Planner Claire Vail said in a telephone interview Monday that Lauer asked for a postponement of the decision. She said the deadline is expected to be extended to Nov. 19.

Neither Lauer nor his attorney could be reached for comment Tuesday.

During the summer, Lauer submitted a proposal to plant 42 trees and dozens of shrubs on his 40-acre Bright Side Farm to protect the horses from being startled by activities and noise around the swimming pool of his neighbors, Jack and Jodi Wasserman.

The Wassermans are fighting the plan, saying trees would block their view of Lauer's bucolic farm and violate restrictions on the property.

The Wassermans' attorney, Patrick Fife of Riverhead, said Monday that he would have a comment only when a decision is made.

According to Vail, Lauer asked for an extension so he could "work on a new plan in terms of landscaping that will address a lot of concerns."

A source added the two sides have been talking with each other in recent weeks.

Lauer has said there is a "dangerous risk" to riders and horses because part of the farm's horse trail is near the pool and backyard of the Wassermans' house on Farrell Court, and that noise from people using that pool can spook horses on the trail.

Lauer's original plan called for 42 trees ranging from 6 feet to 18 feet tall, and 194 shrubs to be planted along the north boundary of his property, with the majority being placed along the perimeter of the Wassermans' property.

Fife has said the problem is of Lauer's own creation.

"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 in July.

In addition, Fife said the planting of 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."


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