Matt Lauer's horse barn is under construction in Watermill. (Aug....

Matt Lauer's horse barn is under construction in Watermill. (Aug. 5, 2013) Credit: Hampton Pix

Southampton neighbors spoke out Thursday night against "Today Show" host Matt Lauer's request to build additional housing for workers on his 40-acre horse farm, with a planning board member worrying that the protected agricultural land would be developed into a "mini-community."

Lauer's representatives have asked the Southampton Planning Board to approve a two-unit duplex for a horse trainer and barn manager to be on the property at all times to monitor the horses.

The farm, called Edge of the Woods Horse Farm, is in Water Mill.

"Really, it's to deal with an emergency situation," said Lauer's business adviser, John Nida. "A horse farm business is a 24/7 operation. We regard them as first responders."

Southampton Town paid $3.6 million -- years before Lauer bought it in 2010 -- to buy the development rights on the land and keep it for agricultural use. That prevents Lauer from living on the land.

But the town does allow housing for workers. There is already one four-bedroom house for the grooms.

"This is getting a little out of hand, as far as I'm concerned," said planning board member Philip Keith, who said he'd vote against the measure.

"I don't want to see this develop into a mini-community."

The planning board will hold another hearing on the horse farm on Aug. 22.

About a half-dozen neighbors or their representatives said they opposed the proposal.

Many complained that the additional request for the complex -- which already includes a 36-stall barn, indoor riding area as well as the grooms' house -- should have been included in the original proposal.

Rachel Verno, chair of the Water Mill Citizens Advisory Committee, "This sets a dangerous precedent, in terms of the planning process," she said.

Timothy McCully, attorney for Lauer, said the proposed house is small.

"I don't think there's any question this type of structure is customary and incidental to a horse farm," he said.

In comparison to the size of the overall plan, "it's a de minimis proposal."

Ann Lombardo, a year-round resident who lives next to the horse farm, said initially the proposal was just for a family-owned horse farm to be used by their children and friends.

But Thursday, Nider said that some of the stalls would be rented out.

"That's what bothers me the most," she said. "This was all going to be for personal use."

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