A 15-acre property on Deep Hole Creek in Mattituck, once at risk of being subdivided into seven building lots, has been successfully preserved thanks to the Peconic Land Trust and a powerful movement from the community, as well as the Town of Southold.
Despite a real estate boom on the East End throughout the pandemic, the Peconic Land Trust, a nonprofit organization, was able to buy the property, officially closing on 4180 New Suffolk Avenue back on June 28. It was purchased from the Koehler family for $2.85 million, Suffolk County deed transfers show, along with the simultaneous sale of development rights to the town.
“We are so grateful to the Koehler family for choosing to collaborate with us, the Town, and YOU, the community, to achieve a conservation outcome,” the Peconic Land Trust said in a statement. “This land will be conserved forever because so many people cared and joined together in community-focused spirit.”
The 14.94-acre parcel of fallow farmland is located at the southeast corner of New Suffolk Avenue and Marratooka Road and is the last parcel of undeveloped property along Deep Hole Creek, one of the access points in the area to Peconic Bay. New Suffolk Avenue, on the North Fork’s south side, runs 3.5 miles from the Handy Pantry down to the water.
The land trust considers the acquisition a “conservation success story,” as it raised more than $653,000 in a relatively short period of time, from 115 donors who rallied to preserve the Deep Hole Creek parcel. (The land trust took out a loan for the balance.)
The land trust, which has helped conserve more than 13,000 acres on Long Island since 1983, considers itself the “interim owner” of the property and is seeking a qualified conservation buyer to acquire and care for the property going forward.
The trust has had several inquiries and recently released a Request for Proposals (RFP), which revealed the parcel contains approximately 12.2-acres of protected fallow farmland, an approximately 2.05-acres attached residential development area with a small seasonal cottage, and approximately 0.69-acres of an unbuildable buffer.
While the property was historically farmed for more than 50 years, it has been fallow for approximately 10 years, the RFP states.
“The property is currently fallow farmland and may remain as such contributing to the scenic character of Southold or put into agricultural production, perpetuating the farming industry synonymous with the North Fork,” according to Holly Sanford, senior project manager, and Alison Delaney, the development officer at the land trust.
The conservation buyer could either be a farmer or someone who will manage the land with the potential of leasing the land for cultivation, they explain.
Responses to the RFP must be submitted by Friday, November 4, 2022, at 5 p.m.
In the meantime, the land trust will manage the property using agricultural best practices. “The land should remain as undisturbed as possible, so the final owner may determine the land’s use,” Sanford and Delaney say.
Supporters of the project gathered together at McCall Wines in Cutchogue on August 21, 2022, to celebrate the acquisition. “We’re all here because of the places that make the North Fork so special, and it’s on us to protect them,” said Russ McCall, who hosted the event. “It’s not just the beauty of our natural lands, our working farms, or our local history and heritage that make the North Fork special, it’s the people — all of you!”
Donations can still be made to support the project. The loan will be repaid through any additional donations, plus the sale of the property to the qualified conservation buyer. Visit peconiclandtrust.org for more information on ways to give.