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Freedom, Farmland, and Christmas Trees: Talking with Marc Goldman About Tangling with Sagaponack

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The saga of 451 Daniels Lane, Sagaponack, continues. Recently owner Marc Goldman penned an article in the New York Observer about his attempts to build a house on his land. The story so far: entrepreneur Goldman and his partners own 44 acres of oceanfront land in Sagaponack; the owners have been fighting with the village planning board for years now about their proposals to build houses on their land.

We asked Mr. Goldman what Curbed readers would want to know about his case. He said, "People need to be concerned about that kind of behavior. The Hamptons is one of the oldest inhabited parts of the country. Settlers came here for freedom—and they'd be rolling over if their graves if they knew about this kind of thing, where you couldn't put a house on your own property in the spot where you want to."

Goldman was given preliminary permission for four house lots on the property from Southampton back in 2001; he was planning to farm the rest of the property. After selling two lots to his partners in 2005, Goldman then granted the development rights to the Peconic Land Trust. He says in the Observer article, "I was proud to do my part to maintain open space in Sagaponack and I never thought that anyone, particularly the village of Sagaponack would try to use my good deeds against me." Goldman then applied for the four-lot subdivision he was given preliminary permission for several years earlier, but by this time Sagaponack had incorporated as a village. Wrangling then ensued over where, if any, houses would be built.

In 2013, Goldman applied to Sagaponack to build just one house on the entire parcel, on the northwest corner. It's the least arable land, the farthest from the ocean, and is also the spot where the "conservation easement agreement with the Peconic Land Trust specifies is one of the locations for a residence." The objection from Sagaponack is that the proposed house would block too much of the view, but as Goldman reasons, "Simple arithmetic proves that since the length of my property along Daniels Lane is 953 ft., and the house is 130 ft. at its widest point, 87.4 percent will remain completely open." (See rendering above.) As he also points out, "My application did not request any variances of any kind. The size, the height, and the setbacks of the house were in full compliance with every zoning regulation." He told us, "The town had their consultants bring up issues that were so nonexistent that it was hard to fathom."

Goldman also planned to farm the land with tomatoes, herbs, garlic, etc to make sauce. He says that to farm effectively, he would have to be on site in his house. So after Sagaponack turned down the latest plans for the house, he decided to farm the land with Christmas trees instead of tomatoes---not out of revenge—but because Christmas trees don't require the daily care of a billionaire, unlike tomatoes. Mmmmkay. In our opinion, he does make a good case for Sagaponack rather unreasonably denying him property rights. Goldman told us, "The whole thing makes no sense, especially since I purposefully limited it to four lots. I could have put thirteen lots there." The case continues in State Supreme Court.
· Hamptons Dispatch: Sagaponack Screwed Me Out of My 43-Acre Oceanfront Dream Lot [NYO]