The family that owns the Brinkmann’s Hardware chain said it is considering suing Southold Town over the town’s attempt to seize property the family owns via eminent domain.
Hank Brinkmann, co-owner of the business, said his family felt “unfairly targeted” as the town seeks to obtain a 1.8-acre property they purchased in December 2016 at 12500 Main Rd. in Mattituck. The Brinkmanns plan to build a hardware store on the parcel and submitted their building application to the town in June 2018.
“It meets all the zoning and code restrictions, but for some reason, the town has been refusing to process our application,” Brinkmann said.
He said the family paid $700,000 for the land, and spent an additional $250,000 to develop it. The company has stores in Blue Point, Holbrook, Jamesport, Miller Place and Sayville.
In February, the Southold Town Board enacted a six-month moratorium along Main Road that prohibited town agencies from issuing or approving building applications or site plan reviews along Main Road between Bay Avenue and Pike Street. The freeze — which was extended in September to March 2020 — was issued so town officials could examine ongoing traffic studies, complete the town’s comprehensive plan and consider a parking study in the Love Lane area.
The Brinkmanns filed a lawsuit in June against the town, challenging the moratorium. The suit is ongoing.
In September, the board voted 5-1 to authorize town attorney William Duffy to acquire the property either by sale or eminent domain, a process under which the town can take private property for public use.
Brinkmann said his family had not been notified about the town's intentions and was surprised by the move.
“They’re trying to take our property and we’re going to defend our property rights,” Brinkmann said. “We’re going to fight the eminent domain process as well as we can.”
Southold Supervisor Scott Russell directed questions to Duffy.
In an interview Nov. 1, Duffy said the town was interested in potentially using the space as a public park, and that previous studies had identified the parcel as ideal for public green space.
Duffy said that the town had tried to acquire the property several times in years past — which included partnering with Suffolk County — when Bridgehampton National Bank owned the land’s title, but that those efforts failed. He added that the Brinkmanns knew of the town's interest in the property "but went ahead and exercised their option to buy anyway."
“This town board is very cognizant that it’s [eminent domain] an extreme measure not to be used lightly, but there is a public purpose, and if that exists I believe the law is on the town’s side in proceeding with eminent domain,” Duffy said.