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Huntington Town officials pursue development rights on Greenlawn farm

Huntington Town Hall is seen in this undated

Huntington Town Hall is seen in this undated photo. Credit: Carl Corry

Huntington Town officials are gearing up to purchase development rights for a farm in Greenlawn, in partnership with Suffolk County.

The owner of the 13.5-acre property at Wyckoff Street and Tilden Lane would retain ownership -- and could continue to farm it -- but the town and county would retain development rights, essentially keeping it farmland in perpetuity.

"The benefits include the town paying a lesser price for the development rights than an acquisition while still guaranteeing land will not be developed," said town board member Mark Cuthbertson, who sponsored a resolution to schedule a public hearing for Aug. 11 to consider acquiring the farmland development rights.

"In addition, the town does not have the liability and operating costs that may come with an acquisition," he said.

If the offer is accepted, the property owner will pay the taxes because the land is not being sold.

In 2009, the owner of the Tilden Lane Farm rejected the town and county's similar offer to buy the farmland development rights. The owner has since died, and Donald Tilden, a representative of the estate, contacted the town to say he was willing to consider an offer, town officials said.

Tilden could not be reached for comment.

Town Supervisor Frank Petrone said the property is worth preserving, for open space and because it is a wildlife habitat.

"While things did not work out then, I am happy that the owners are once again willing to work with the town and the county to see if this time the purchase of development rights can be completed," he said.

The county has a specific development rights buying program that could help keep town costs down.

The resolution for the public hearing also approved getting an appraisal for the property.

Town spokesman A.J. Carter said he could not provide how much the property owner was offered in 2009.

The parcel is home to a longtime favorite for families looking to cut down their own Christmas tree. In 1976, the farm was recognized as a National Bicentennial Farm for more than 200 years of continuous farm use, town officials said.

It has been held in the Tilden family since 1793.

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