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Federal judge denies injunction request to stave off eminent domain proceedings in Brinkmann's case

The family that owns Brinkmann's Hardware is suing

The family that owns Brinkmann's Hardware is suing Southold Town over its attempt to claim property the family owns in Mattituck.  Credit: Randee Daddona

A federal court has denied a motion by the family-operated Brinkmann’s Hardware chain to stop Southold Town from continuing with condemnation proceedings on a Mattituck property for which both parties are vying for ownership.

A federal judge ruled July 6 in U.S. Eastern District Court in Brooklyn against a motion filed by the Brinkmann family’s attorneys for a preliminary injunction to halt condemnation proceedings on the Main Road property in Mattituck. Such proceedings allow the town to start the process of seizing the land via eminent domain.

The Brinkmanns purchased the 1.8-acre property in December 2016 for $700,000 and spent an additional $250,000 to develop it. The family wants to build a hardware store on the land, but the town seeks to acquire it for possible use as a public park.

Southold Town Attorney Bill Duffy told Newsday on Wednesday that the town viewed the court’s recent decision as "a real blow" to the Brinkmanns’ case.

"Their whole federal lawsuit is based on their claim that our public use [claim] is really a farce and that it’s not legitimate," Duffy said. "The courts told them ‘You waive that right to raise that argument.’ "

After the town enacted a moratorium in February 2019 prohibiting town agencies from issuing or approving building applications or site plan reviews along the section of Main Road where the property is situated, the town board voted in September 2019 to acquire the property either by sale or eminent domain. The Brinkmanns sued the town in federal court in May to stop the land seizure.

The two sides are scheduled to meet this week for a conference in federal court. Duffy said the town will wait to see what new details arise regarding the court’s decision and where the case goes from there.

Southold has also recently filed a petition in Suffolk County Supreme Court to file a map for the property as part of its eminent domain efforts, Duffy added.

Hank Brinkmann, co-owner of Brinkmann’s Hardware, told Newsday last week that the family's attorneys will review the motion and that the Brinkmanns will continue to pursue the case in both federal and Suffolk Supreme courts.

He said the recent ruling was not a blow to their case.

"Not at all. It’s a minor setback, if anything," Brinkmann said. "We’re going to continue to fight. This is going to be a long case, and the fight is far from over. We’ll wait to see the decision, and if necessary, we’ll appeal the decision."

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