Bank scoops up Shelter Island Gardens Nursery at auction for $525K

JULIE LANE PHOTO | Referee Donald Kitson (left) reads the rules for bidding before receiving the single bid on the Shelter Island Gardens Nursery property from attorney Kevin Balfe on behalf of Suffolk County National Bank that foreclosed on the property last year.

The Shelter Island Gardens Nursery on St. Mary’s Road drew a single bidder this morning as Kevin Balfe, an attorney for Suffolk County National Bank, entered a bid for $525,000. In only seconds, referee Donald Kitson, a retired judge from Bay Shore, announced the bidding was closed with the property going to the only bidder.

The bank, which foreclosed on the property last year, held a $1.06 million lien on the property.

What will the bank do with the property that belonged to Sean McLean prior to the foreclosure?

“We don’t own it yet,” Mr. Balfe said, noting he was required to put down only 10 percent of the purchase price this morning at Shelter Island Town Hall where the auction occurred. But the bank will likely put the buildings and approximately two acres of land up for sale.

It had been listed for quite awhile with the Corcoran Group that maintains a presence on the Island.

Both Corcoran executive Josh Horton and agent Hannah Dinkel, who operated Frederick L. Dinkel Real Estate prior to joining the Corcoran Group last year, were on hand for the auction. Neither commented on the sale. Mr. Horton, who is senior managing director for Corcoran’s North Fork, Shelter Island and Westhampton Beach operations, noted that the firm once carried a listing on the property. Mr. McLean had listed the property for sale in 2008.

A group of St. Mary’s Road neighbors and other Islanders watched the procedure.

“It’s just what I thought would happen,” Ron Jernick said afterward.

“It’s not a surprise,” agreed Peter McCracken, who lives on Bowditch Road. Dee Clark Moorhead, who had been among the most outspoken of the St. Mary’s Road residents about what they said were deteriorated conditions at the property, said she thought the property, with its wooded acreage, would provide an excellent site for a single-family residence.

When the property was operated as a nursery, it was a nonconforming use in a residential area. It remains unclear whether a new owner would still have the nonconforming use status or the property would revert back to residential status.

Existing law provides that after a year in which the nonconforming use has been abandoned, it would cease to exist.

In May 2010, Mr. McLean said the nursery wouldn’t be reopening its retail business, but that his Aberdeen Design Group would continue to provide landscape design services. Although there hadn’t been walk-in business for several years, Mr. McLean said last summer his wife Erin still was selling nursery stock from the property through her landscaping business.

In August 2011, neighbors asked building inspector Bill Banks to inspect the property and submitted pictures of what they considered derelict and unsafe conditions. Mr. Banks said he found no reason to take any action against Mr. McLean, only suggesting that the grass could be cut and minor repairs could be made to buildings. But there was no mandated action.

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