Paard Hill horse farm sale imminent


REPORTER FILE PHOTO | Sources say the controversial Paard Hill horse farm sale is a done deal.

A deal is done to sell Paard Hill horse farm, according to a person close to the negotiations.

But not so fast, said Christopher Kent of the Bridgehampton office of the law firm Farrell Fritz, representing the sellers, Pieter Ruig and Ellen Lear.

“There’s an interested party and we’re waiting for some of the conditions to be satisfied prior to a commitment to close on the property,” Mr. Kent said.

The attorney and the person knowledgeable about the deal wouldn’t say who was ready to purchase the 36-acre property on Ram Island Road. Paard Hill has been described as a four-star hotel for horses, with padded floors and water fountains in many of the 23 stalls with water views.

But Mr. Kent said the sale price would be lower than the original asking price of $8 million.

The last hitch to the deal seems to hang on a decision from the Peconic Land Trust, which by agreement has a right of first refusal along with the town to take over a so-called “open” parcel in the Paard Hill package, or about 28.5- acres. The remaining 7.65-acres has a single-family house.

A  2012 declaration imposes a covenant on the property requiring the open section to be donated to either the Town of Shelter Island or the PLT after the deaths of both Mr. Ruig and Ms. Lear or  if they subdivide and sell the property’s residential component. The declaration prohibits any future use of the equine facility as a commercial operation.

The present deal calls for no further subdivision of the property, according to sources, and the new buyer can use the “open area” for private “equestrian of pedestrian purposes.”

The person with knowledge of the negotiations said PLT is not interested in buying the parcel.

John Halsey, president of the PLT, said in a statement that the organization had not “received a formal offer regarding donation to the Trust of the Paard Hill open area, over which we hold a perpetual conservation easement.”

The Town Board’s work session agenda for Tuesday includes a discussion of the “Paard Hill open area.”

The Lear-Ruig application to open a commercial horse farm in a residential zone touched off a storm of protest when first proposed. The board granted a special exception use permit to allow it in August 2000.

Run originally as an equestrian business, it hasn’t been a commercial venture for some time.