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Suffolk County Files Suit Against Ringhoff Farm for Development Violations

Suffolk County has filed suit against the Ringhoff Farm in Eastport for illegally storing vehicles on its property in violation of the Deed of Development Rights acquired by the county last year.

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Suffolk County filed suit in New York State Supreme Court on Monday against the Ringhoff Farm for illegally storing vehicles on property where development rights were purchased by the county last year.  In exchange for $1,700,000, Suffolk County acquired the rights to 140.57 acres of farmland that it wished to preserve.

The Ringhoff family was allowed to continue to operate their roadside produce stand in Eastport.  Speaking on behalf of the family last year, William Ringhoff said, “The proceeds will go a long way in enabling us to continue farming, and we thank county government and the people of Suffolk for their ongoing support for the farming industry on Long Island.”
“The purchase of development rights to the Ringhoff Farm will preserve yet another historic Suffolk County farm from future development.  Protection of our farmland is critical to protecting the agricultural economy that is vital to Suffolk’s East End,” said former County Executive Steve Levy.
Now, County Executive Steve Bellone says that the Ringhoff family is using the property as a vehicle storage site.  NYS Supreme Court Judge William Kent has signed a temporary restraining order prohibiting the owners from engaging in any new violations.
“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 County was notified of the violation by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.  County inspectors, who were initially denied access to the property, ultimately found dumping and storage of solid waste and vehicles, and site disturbances, including soil removal, dredging and excavation, all in violation of the Contract of Sale and the Deed of Development Rights.
The Town of Brookhaven Law Department filed to obtain a Temporary Restraining Oder in New York Supreme Court on Tuesday after inspectors found that there were vechiles still being stored on the property.  
"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.
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