(Hauppauge, NY-December 10, 2012) Today, Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone announced that Suffolk County has filed suit in New York State Supreme Court against the Ringhoff Farm for the illegal use of the property. Judge William Kent, NYS Supreme Court, has signed a temporary restraining order prohibiting the owners from engaging in any new violations including the acceptance of vehicles. The farm’s owners have been using the property to store vehicles and other solid waste despite the fact that in June, they sold the farms’ development rights to the Suffolk County for $1.69 million under the County's Farmland Protection/Development Rights Program.
“Suffolk County taxpayers did not purchase the Ringhoff Farm’s development rights in order for it to be used as a junkyard,” said County Executive Bellone. “This program is part of our commitment to preserve open space and ensure the continued agricultural use. This is a blatant abuse of the program which is why we have filed suit against the property’s owners.”
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation notified the County that the unlawful practice was taking place. The County immediately sent inspectors to the property to verify the alleged use and was denied initial access to the property. Subsequently, the owner allowed access and the County found the following:
• Dumping and storage of solid waste and storage of vehicles;
• Conducting or allowing site disturbances on the Ringhoff Farm, including but not limited to dredging, excavating, filling, grading and/or soil removal;
• Fencing in or around the Ringhoff Farm.
All uses are in violation of the covenants of the Deed of Development Rights and the Contract of Sale. The County is seeking immediate injunctive relief preventing future illegal uses, removing existing illegal uses and for other monetary damages and fines.
In addition, the Town of Brookhaven Law Department investigators confirmed today that the vehicles were still being stored on the property and the Town is moving forward on presenting an action in New York State Supreme Court on Tuesday, December 11 to obtain a Temporary Restraining Order.
"The Town is acting to stop illegal mass storage at all properties not properly zoned. We are especially concerned with properties zoned residential or farmland, as well as any storage that could result in environmental contamination," said Brookhaven Town Supervisor Ed Romaine. "Those who violate our codes will be prosecuted to the fullest extent possible under the law and will face both criminal and civil penalties. I advise anyone who is considering mass vehicle storage on their property to contact the Town's Law Department before the Law Department has to contact them."