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Nov 11, 2008 4:01 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press

East Hampton billionaire bulldozed dunes

Nov 11, 2008 4:01 PM

Town officials have not formally cited the owner of a 40-acre East Hampton estate for leveling a broad swath of natural dunes to make way for a new house on the property.

Town attorneys, planning and building department officials and code enforcement representatives are in talks with attorneys for Ronald Baron and the company doing the construction work on the site, which Mr. Baron purchased last year for $103 million, the most ever paid for a private residence in the United States.

Sometime last month, bulldozers leveled what town environmental officials described as an “ancient” secondary dune as part of the redevelopment of the property. Any work in the area of the dunes requires a town Natural Resources Special Permit, according to Natural Resources Department head Larry Penny, which Mr. Baron has never applied for. The State Department of Environmental Conservation, which also regulates development near shorelines, is also investigating the case.

Mr. Baron purchased the property off Further Lane from Adelaide de Menil and Edmund Carpenter last year after the couple removed the collection of 18th century cottages and barns that they moved there and lived in. The cottages were nestled among scrub pines at the southern edge of the property, abutting the dunes.

Work on the construction of a new house for Mr. Baron began earlier this year, including the erecting of a concrete retaining wall that runs through what Mr. Penny said was the natural secondary dune—a rare natural feature on the South Fork because development has prevented dunes from migrating landward, creating a secondary line.

“He’s in a lot of trouble, or he should be,” Mr. Penny said last week. “He can’t do anything in the dunes without a permit. Of course, we never would have given anyone a permit to do what he did.”

Mr. Penny said that work at the property has been halted while attorneys for the town and Mr. Baron discuss the options before them.

Mr. Penny said the town could potentially force Mr. Baron to remove the retaining wall and fully restore the dune, although that would still not be the same as what had formed naturally over hundreds of years.

michael wright

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Larry says this hedgie's in big trouble! I'm sure he's quaking in his boots. Or maybe not.
By we could run this town! (129), wonderful Wainscott on Nov 11, 08 7:55 PM
Ron Barron committed a heinous crime against Nature, and should be held accountable. Not only with a fine, that I have no doubt he was aware he would have to pay when he decimated the Double Dune System (see http://www.nature.org/wherewework/northamerica/states/newyork/preserves/art10986.html) but with incarceration as well. When he is released from jail he should do community work cleaning the beaches of East Hampton. Ron Barron, who founded Baron Capital Group Inc., should return to Asbury Park, ...more
By JT (1), East Hampton on Nov 11, 08 9:15 PM
Though it would be denied it always seems like its calculated meaning the fine is paltry compared to getting what you want. Ultimately when mother nature comes and digs into the sand he removed his last line of defense. Such a travesty those dunes and that land were awesome and the prior owners respected and kept it that way. East Hampton is really falling down on the inspection aspect of building. How can you miss a bulldozer knocking down the dunes? Its such a sensitive area that it should be ...more
By North Sea Citizen (568), North Sea on Nov 12, 08 7:00 AM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By RealLocal (76), Bridgehampton on Nov 12, 08 4:55 PM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By quogue (12), southampton on Nov 14, 08 11:53 AM
This a-hole should go to jail! How many times have we told our children not to climb the dunes only to have someone like this destroy an entire swath in one fell swoop. He's a perfect example of what has been going wrong with the East End for the last 20 years. No respect for nature or neighbors. Hopefully nothing further is allowed to be built or developed on this property. Easthampton should condemn and take over the property, if possible.
By hbz (7), Hampton Bays on Nov 18, 08 8:58 PM