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Peconic Land Trust Receives Temporary Restraining Order For Easement Violation In Amagansett

August 12, 2019

Complaint is filed against 341 Town Lane LLC and Randy Lerner for clear cutting of senstitive woodland habitat.

Southampton, NY — The Peconic Land Trust obtained a Temporary Restraining Order against 341 Town Lane LLC and its principal Randy Lerner for the violation of the Trust’s conservation easement on 5.9 acres of land that includes sensitive, mature woodlands in Amagansett, New York. The order was issued by Acting Justice Joseph Farneti in the Supreme Court of the State of New York, Suffolk County on Thursday, August 8, 2019.

This is one of the most egregious violations of a conservation easement in the Trust’s 36-year history. Conservation easements are voluntary restrictions placed on land by landowners that remain with the land in perpetuity. The easement on the property has been in place since 1995 – with no violations in its history. The defendants are the third owners of the property under the easement. The property was acquired by 341 Town Lane LLC on Thursday, July 31, 2019. Within days of acquiring title to the property, the new owners engaged and caused a tree removal company to cut down and stack throughout the easement property approximately 75 to 125 trees, many of them mature, without notice to the Peconic Land Trust, which is required by the conservation easement document.

The Trust was made aware of the violation by a number of concerned neighbors. On Tuesday, August 6, the Trust notified the defendants’ counsel of the violation; and on Wednesday, August 7, the Trust’s counsel demanded that they cease and desist – which was refused. The defendants are represented by attorneys Tiffany Scarlotta and Denise Schoen.

“We have a perpetual responsibility as an institution, and as a people, to steward the land and water around us – everything we have is finite and precious, and under continued threat even if protected from development. This violation is extreme and involved the willful removal of up to 125 native trees – including American Beech, Sassafras, American Holly and White Oak. We are seeking the immediate cessation of removal activities and the full restoration of the property by the defendants,” said John v.H. Halsey, President, Peconic Land Trust.

This civil action taken today is critical to maintaining the conservation values of the land as well as to serve the broader public purpose on which the conservation of this land was intended. The new landowners’ actions over the past week are in direct violation of the terms of the easement. The Peconic Land Trust is being represented by attorneys Leonard Benowich and Ellen Fred.

“There is a long tradition of stewardship on Long Island, but never have the challenges been as extreme as those we are facing today. We have always recognized our perpetual stewardship responsibilities to monitor and enforce conservation restrictions. It is a daunting task but we are determined to assure that every parcel of protected land remains protected for future generations as set forth in the conservation easements that we hold,” added Mr. Halsey.

Founded in 1983, Peconic Land Trust conserves Long Island’s working farms, natural lands, and heritage. Since its inception, the nonprofit Trust has worked conscientiously with landowners, communities, municipalities, partner organizations, and donors, to conserve approximately 12,000 acres of land on Long Island. The Trust’s professional staff carries out the necessary research and planning to identify and implement alternatives to outright development. While working to conserve the productive farms, watersheds, woodlands, and beachfront of Long Island, the Trust is also protecting the unique rural heritage and natural resources of the region. For more information about the Peconic Land Trust, visit peconiclandtrust.org.

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