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Commack school district to keep historic Marion Carll Farm, judge rules

The farmhouse and outlying structures on the Marion

The farmhouse and outlying structures on the Marion Carll Farm in Commack is shown on June 4, 2010. Credit: Joseph D. Sullivan

A state Supreme Court justice has ruled that Commack public schools will retain ownership of Marion Carll Farm, a roughly 9-acre property bequeathed to the district in 1969.

The summary judgment, issued Jan. 18, caps a yearslong legal battle over the property on Commack Road. The farm dates to 1701 and is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Carll left the farm to the district on the condition that it be maintained as a historical site or educational farm. Her descendants sued in 2012 to retake ownership because they alleged the district has not met those conditions.

Justice Daniel Martin wrote in his ruling that Carll’s heirs were “at least 12 years too late” in seeking to have the property returned to them. Martin wrote that New York State’s property law required Carll’s heirs to take appropriate legal action within 30 years of when the district took possession of the farm.

“It’s a victory for us,” said Scott M. Karson, a Melville-based attorney who represents the district.

Huntington-based attorney S. Russ DiFazio, who represents Carll’s heirs, filed a notice of appeal on their behalf on Feb. 16. A formal appeal has not been filed, and DiFazio did not return a call seeking comment.

“We believe the judge acted on very solid legal authority ruling the way he did,” Karson said Monday. “We’re pretty comfortable that we’re right and that the judge’s decision will survive . . . an appeal if an appeal is made.”

Commack schools officials had previously sought to sell the farm, which they have said costs the district thousands of dollars a year in maintenance, but residents defeated a vote on the proposal. The district does not currently use the property.

District officials declined to comment on the court’s decision, or whether they are pursuing a potential buyer who could use the land as Carll had intended.

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