Suffolk Legislature sides with farmers on land protection bill
The Suffolk Legislature unanimously voted to pass a home rule message that asks the state to enact a new farmland protection bill.
Many farms in Suffolk sold the development rights on some of their land in exchange for money from the government and an agreement to never develop the property.
For years, farmers were allowed to get exemptions for structures such as farm stands and greenhouses, but a court ruling disallowed that.
"The development rights program is to prevent housing development on farms, not the building of a barn or a farm stand," says Bob Nolan, of Deer Run Farms in Brookhaven.
The county is appealing that court ruling, but legislators are also calling on the state to pass legislation that would allow farmers to continue to put up certain structures on preserved farmland.
Leading the opposition is the Pine Barrens Society, which filed a lawsuit blocking any kind of building on preserved land.
"This is about the fact that they want to do something they've agreed not to do and the public has paid them not to do it," says Richard Amper, of the Pine Barrens Society.
The proposed bill is currently before state legislators. They have just two weeks to pass it before their session ends for the year.