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Long IslandSuffolk

Asharoken now supports farm application

The mayor of Asharoken and Sandpiper Farm officials brokered an 11th-hour deal Tuesday to withdraw the village's opposition to adding the farm to one of Suffolk County's agricultural districts.

The pact came hours before county lawmakers approved the application. Sandpiper's application now goes to the state commissioner of agriculture.

Before the legislature met Tuesday, Asharoken Mayor Gregory Letica had said he wanted to see the vote postponed or defeated.

But in a signed letter provided to Newsday Tuesday night, village officials withdrew all objections to Sandpiper's application; and the applicants agreed that once the land is formally added to the county district, owners will meet with village officials to address concerns, "with a goal of agreeing to reasonable farm operation."

Also, they will discuss "appropriate payments to the village in lieu of taxes," once a pending application for an agricultural assessment with the Town of Huntington concludes.

If Eatons Neck Llc's county application is approved, town and village assessors would decide if it receives a tax break. Last year, the estate was taxed $838,677.04, town records show. Additionally, it paid about $220,000 in taxes to the village, Letica said.

Jon Santemma, attorney for Sandpiper Farm owner Laurie Landeau, said he was pleased with the mayor's new posture. "I am delighted that the village heard the many voices of its residents and experts alike. The result of all of the witnesses efforts and time in coming to hearings and meetings is the continuation of farm use at this very special place."

The secluded 441-acre estate is owned by Eatons Neck Llc. Landeau runs the farm, which is used to train about 15 fox-hunting horses.

Asharoken does not have agricultural zoning, and property owners applied for inclusion in the county district to preserve its right to farm, Santemma said.

Joining Suffolk's agricultural district would also bolster the estate's claim that the property should be reassessed from residential to agricultural. Agricultural districts help relieve development pressure on farmers, largely through significantly reduced property tax assessment rates.

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