Hardware Store Sues Southold Over Condemnation

Ben and Hank Brinkmann. Photo courtesy of Institute for Justice

The Town of Southold improperly seized nearly two acres of private property in Mattituck on which Brinkmann’s Hardware planned to build a new location, the Sayville-based company claimed in a federal lawsuit.

The suit, filed May 4 at Central Islip federal court, alleges that the town fabricated plans to build a park on the Main Road location as a guise to condemn the land under eminent domain last year.

“This is a sham,” the plaintiffs state in court documents. “The town had never previously considered putting a park on this land. The only reason it is doing so now is to stop the Brinkmanns from opening a store on the land it owns.”

Brinkmann’s Hardware, started by Tony and Pat Brinkmann in Sayville in 1976, has four stores across Long Island that are now family-owned and operated by their children. They purchased the lot in question in 2016 and the town later enacted a moratorium on construction in the area. They reportedly paid $700,000.

“The Brinkmanns’ hardware store is an entirely legal business, and Southold has no valid reason to stop them from earning a living on their property,” said Jeffrey Redfern, an attorney with the Virginia-based  Institute for Justice, which is representing the family. “The Brinkmanns satisfy all legal requirements for building on the land they own, so the town has decided to just take their property. That is unfair, unconstitutional and represents a threat to businesses and property owners nationwide.”

Town officials did not respond to a request for comment.

“Taking our land by eminent domain would not only deprive us of the property we invested in to grow our business, but also would take away the opportunity to earn an honest living that the new store represents,” said Ben Brinkmann. “That is why we are keeping up this fight.”

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