The purchase by East Hampton Town of four acres just off Swamp Road, near the headwaters of Northwest Creek, will bring the preserved land in the area to 800 acres and could be used for storing kayaks and canoes and for kiosks with trail maps and natural history information, Scott Wilson, the town’s director of land acquisition, said last week.
The town board approved the $887,500 purchase last Thursday night following a hearing. The land, owned by Charles Wade and Cynthia Loewen, will be acquired with money from the community preservation fund.
The property had been the site of Northwest Kennels, a longtime dog-boarding facility that had, beginning almost a decade ago, prompted complaints from neighbors, some of whom sued the town in 2005, challenging a decision by the town building inspector that the kennel could continue to operate legally as a pre-existing, nonconforming use in a residential zone.
The neighbors, who included Theresa Quigley, now a town councilwoman, Thomas Quigley, her husband, Peter Van Scoyoc, now a Democratic candidate for town board, Lawrence Koncelik, Ms. Quigley’s brother, and Patricia Hope, claimed the kennel had stopped operating for a time, thereby losing its legal rights.
The group sued after an appeal to the town zoning board to overturn the building inspector’s decision was denied. Instead, the zoning board confirmed the inspector’s finding that the business had been in continuous operation as a boarding facility for dogs, including, it was asserted, a Quigley pet.
The business was inherited from its founder, Alfred Staudinger, by Mr. Wade, his grandson, and Ms. Loewen, his stepdaughter, who is married to former Town Councilman Brad Loewen. Mr. Loewen, a member of the planning board at the time, raised the abandonment issue during a 2005 run for the town board. He denied suggestions that applications before the planning board from Mr. Wade might have received preferential treatment.
Ms. Quigley abstained from the vote on the acquisition last week. Prior to the town board’s vote, three people spoke in favor of it, including Ms. Hope, who said preserving the site would “help to scrub the [nearby] shellfish beds and give them back to the people.”
Bill Mott, an Independence Party candidate for East Hampton Town Trustee, said preserving the land would have a positive effect on water quality. Speaking for himself and Jim Matthews of the Northwest Alliance, Chris Haak, a resident of Northwest Landing Road, said, “The creek is one of the nicest areas of town, and its preservation is critical.”
Mr. Wilson announced that a house on the property and the kennels would be demolished, but that a detached garage might be retained for public use. The county and state, he said, would provide information for visitors to tracts they own nearby.