It’s been smooth sailing through Suffolk County legislature for two recently adopted Riverhead land acquisitions. Unanimously approved by Suffolk County’s Environment, Parks & Agriculture Committee on October 2, then unanimously approved again by the full Suffolk County Legislature on October 6, the resolutions authorize the purchase of land rights under the new Drinking Water Protection Program.
The first proposed acquisition was 49.6 acres of the 55.6-acre Philip Anthony Schmitt and Philip Albert Schmitt Family Benefit Trust property, aka the Schmitt & Son Farm in the hamlet of Riverhead. District No. 1 Legislator Al Krupski, who motioned both acquisition proposals, clarified that, “[Schmitt & Son Farm] will stay in farmland in perpetuity. It will stay on the tax rolls, and it will not require any county involvement for maintenance going forward.”
“It is vital to the entire region that farming families such as the Schmitts be able to continue farming and passing their farms down from generation to generation,” said Riverhead Town Board Member Catherine Kent, who, alongside fellow Board Member Frank Beyrodt, appealed to Suffolk County Legislators during the October 6 meeting. “Preservation of these two parcels in the Town of Riverhead will enhance our area economically, environmentally and aesthetically. In Riverhead, we’re extremely proud to be the agricultural apex of Long Island!”
The county purchased the Schmitt farmland development rights for $2.728 million.
The second proposed acquisition was the 20-acre Lynn Wells, Ruth H. Wells, Dale D. Wells & June C. Harrison property in Northville, comprising five acres of woodlands and 15 acres of former farmland that Suffolk County intends to revert back to natural woods and grasslands. The property is contiguous with 361 acres in proximity in the North Fork Preserve County Park.
“This will, when it’s returned to its natural state, provide contiguous wildlife habitat, which is increasingly important in our world,” District No. 2 Legislator Bridget Fleming said in the October 2 meeting. “There are certainly theories that the coronavirus is in the human health system because of intrusions by humans into wildlife habitat, so I would love to see us renew our focus on the importance, as Legislator Krupski pointed out, of extending wildlife habitat instead of moving in the opposite direction. We could be leaders in that, here in Suffolk County.”
The county purchased the Northville parcel of land for $1.7 million.