Buyer in the saddle for Paard Hill horse farm?

REPORTER FILE PHOTO | The Paard Hill horse farm and one of its former tenants.

A prospective buyer wants to continue operating the Paard Hill horse farm, which founders Pieter Ruig and Ellen Lear have had on the market for $7.95 million, Supervisor Jim Dougherty announced at Tuesday’s Town Board work session.

Under a stipulation of settlement dating back years but recorded only recently, any new owner would have to go through the same approval process to allow a commercial operation in a residential zone that Mr. Ruig and Ms. Lear did 12 years ago. The stipulation, which settled a lawsuit brought against the Zoning Board of Appeals by neighbors, extinguishes any rights to operate the horse farm if and when Mr. Ruig and Ms. Lear give up the horse farm or sell the property.

The stipulation conflicts with the terms of a conservation easement that Lear-Ruig granted the Peconic Land Trust after the town Zoning Board of Appeals allowed the commercial equestrian facility on the 36-acre residentially zoned property on Ram Island Road in August, 2000.

It provides that the property may not be redeveloped for any additional or alternative uses except open space. But it does allow those uses that were permitted at the time Mr. Ruig and Ms. Lear owned it to continue: a single-family home on 7.6 acres and an “open area” of 28.56 acres containing the commercial horse farm with stabling facilities for no more than to 24 horses.

Mr. Dougherty said that an attorney for the buyer was interested discussing the property with town officials but that no meeting had been scheduled. He commented later that it wouldn’t be wise “to make too much” of the news because prospective buyers so often come and go.

Real estate agent Penelope Moore recently described the stables at Paard Hill, which has not been used commercially for some time, as “a four-star hotel for horses” with padded floors, water fountains in many of the 23 stalls and water views. The compound includes a foaling room, two tack rooms, indoor and outdoor wash stalls, a lunchroom and office and attached heated indoor riding arena. There’s also a large outdoor arena with a gazebo.

“They don’t do anything half way,” Ms. Moore said of the current owners. “Both are very energetic people and they put their all into everything,” she said. “It’s very sad” that they have opted not to operate the horse farm any longer, she said. “They really wanted this horse farm badly,” she said, recalling the battle in 2000 when neighbors opposed the proposal as a potentially noxious commercial operation in a residential neighborhood.