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Town delays ruling on Matt Lauer’s new plan for Hamptons farm

"Today" host Matt Lauer's 40-acre Bright Side Farm,

"Today" host Matt Lauer's 40-acre Bright Side Farm, upper right, on Deerfield Road in Water Mill is seen on Wednesday, April 29, 2015. Jack and Jodi Wasserman, who own a neighboring home, far right, opposed Lauer's original plan to plant 42 trees and 194 shrubs on his farm, with most being placed along the perimeter of their property on Farrell Court. Credit: Doug Kuntz

A decision that was expected to be made Thursday on “Today” show host Matt Lauer’s controversial proposal to plant dozens of trees and shrubs at his Water Mill horse farm will not be made until sometime next year, Southampton Town planner Claire Vail said.

Vail said last week that the planning board was set to make a decision on the matter on Dec. 10, but in a telephone interview Wednesday she said the decision date will be extended at the town’s request because the town’s Agricultural Advisory Committee, which makes recommendations to the board on proposals involving farms, will not be meeting again until sometime in late January.

During the summer, Lauer submitted a proposal to plant 42 trees and nearly 200 shrubs on his 40-acre Bright Side Farm because he said horses were being “spooked” on the trail by activities and noise around the swimming pool of his neighbors, Jack and Jodi Wasserman.

The Wassermans opposed the plan, saying trees would block their view of Lauer’s “bucolic” farm and violate restrictions on the property, but last week Lauer submitted a revised proposal that Vail said will answer many of the neighbors’ concerns.

Lauer’s attorney, Edward D. Burke Jr., whose office is in Sag Harbor, said in a telephone interview Wednesday that he would not discuss the new proposal before a board decision is made. The Wassermans’ Riverhead-based attorney, Patrick B. Fife, has also declined to comment until the board acts on Lauer’s request.

“We’ve been and will continue to be patient and allow the process to move through all of the appropriate phases within the town,” Burke said.

In Lauer’s original plan, he asked the board’s permission to plant 42 trees ranging from 6 feet to 18 feet tall, and 194 shrubs along the north boundary of his property, with most being placed along the perimeter of the Wassermans’ Farrell Court property.

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