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May 29, 2012 2:49 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press

Wainscott Couple Sues Over Babinski Barn Approval

May 29, 2012 6:07 PM

A Wainscott couple has filed suit against East Hampton Town officials and their neighbor, farmer William A. Babinski Jr., claiming that a Planning Board approval of a barn on his 20-acre property on Beach Lane was illegal.

The suit, filed on May 17 in New York State Supreme Court by Thomas and Shelley Gilbert, lists members of the East Hampton Town Planning Board, the town’s Architectural Review Board and Mr. Babinski. It alleges that town officials didn’t go through the proper approval process when they signed off on the barn through its Planning Board and its Architectural Review Board, and should have asked the Town Board to sign off on it.

The Planning Board voted to approve the 1,380-square foot barn in April, despite the Gilberts opposing it at a public hearing, according to Jeffrey Bragman, their East Hampton attorney. Their main complaint was that the barn blocked their view of scenic farm vistas, according to the lawsuit. The Gilberts didn’t return a call seeking comment on Tuesday.

Mr. Bragman said the couple asked the Planning Board to relocate the barn to the south side of the parcel at the public hearing, but to no avail. He also said the Planning Board shouldn’t have approved the site plan since the farm contained illegal structures, a portable toilet and two shipping containers.

At some point, Mr. Babinski was able to obtain approval from the town’s Building Department to construct the barn. But Mr. Bragman said he requested that the town issue a stop-work order because he had learned that the project needed approval from the Town Board. That’s because the town and the Peconic Land Trust purchased the development rights of the farm in 2006, so the Town Board is required to sign off on any construction projects. A stop-work order was issued last week, said Mr. Bragman.

When reached this week, Mr. Babinski said he didn’t know the details of the lawsuit and said it was in the hands of his attorneys. He said the barn is needed to store agricultural equipment. Mr. Babinski farms a range of crops, including sweet corn, tomatoes, peppers, and strawberries.

“I think everything was done as best as we knew how,” Mr. Babinski said of the approval process for the barn.

The property was purchased in 2006 for the purpose of farmland preservation, noted Diana Weir, the vice chairwoman of the Planning Board. When it was purchased in 2006, it was decided that a portion of the property would be set aside for agricultural buildings to support the farming use.

“He has the right to farm the property— that was what was part of the agreement—and he is allowed to build structures on there,” said Ms. Weir.

Mr. Bragman contends that the Planning Board shouldn’t have approved a site plan for the second barn, given the fact that some of the structures there are illegal.

“It’s a failure to understand the planning process,” he said. “If you’ve got an illegal structure, historically the Planning Board would not move forward on that application.”

But Ms. Weir said the structures were slated to be removed.

“We have no issues with that on the Planning Board because the structures are being removed to put up the new barn,” she said. “[Mr. Babinski’s] been following the code and the law 100 percent. He has not done anything improper.”

The Town Board will hold a public hearing on whether to approve the barn at its June 7 meeting.

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Without farmers like Mr. Babinski their wouldn't be any "scenic farm vistas"! If I were Mr. Babinski I would have to idle the biggest, loudest tractor I owned on their property line every Sunday morning at 5AM.
By cmac (184), East Quogue on May 29, 12 4:00 PM
I wonder why they think they can dictate where he builds on his property.
By pstevens (406), Wilmington on May 29, 12 4:14 PM
You go Andy!!!
By dancandid (2), Sagaponack on May 29, 12 4:43 PM
We need more barns and less Gilbert's on the east end.
By EastEnd68 (888), Westhampton on May 29, 12 5:40 PM
4 members liked this comment
Same newcomer attitude. I buy property and also buy the rights to everything I see. What's mine is mine and what's yours is mine.
By Sandflea (35), Southampton on May 29, 12 6:03 PM
Its getting tougher and tougher to continue to live on the east end with crap like this going on.
By C Law (354), Water Mill on May 29, 12 6:05 PM
1 member liked this comment
The horse is out of the barn on that one.
By dnice (2346), Hampton Bays on May 29, 12 8:36 PM
1 member liked this comment
"De pecuniae" segregation strikes again!
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on May 30, 12 4:27 AM
Does one smell a counter-suit here, given that the work in progress appears to be in full compliance with previous approvals?

If the Gilberts' lawsuit is deemed to be outside the limits of permissible arguments, it would be appropriate for Mr. Babinski to seek compensation from them (AND personally from Mr. Bragman) for all expenses AND attorneys' fees.

Let the summer games begin!

Call the Fiddle Fiddle Fiddle section back from summer recess.
By Nero (301), Sag Harbor on May 29, 12 6:14 PM
May 29, 12 8:15 PM appended by Mr. Z
"No farms, NO FOOD" STUPID!
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on May 29, 12 8:15 PM
2 members liked this comment
I always thought working farms included farm buildings ie. barns, silos and other related structures. The American farmer kicked in the teeth again, this time for a view. Really pathetic.
By nellie (451), sag harbor on May 29, 12 10:25 PM
Typical response from another of those wealthy people who feel entitled - sue someone. Makes me sick. Money can't buy smarts. You have to laugh at the this legal action whose basis is a small portable toilet; and that's where this case belongs.
By SagHarborBob (91), Life is Good on May 30, 12 6:55 AM
1 member liked this comment
Containers and porto-potties are "objects," not "structures." At least they are supporting the economy by hiring a local attorney.
By M. O'Connor (147), Southampton on May 30, 12 7:05 AM
Hey, Gilbert, leave them farmers alone!
By peoplefirst (787), Southampton on May 30, 12 8:21 AM
Uh, what part of "farm" do the Gilberts not understand? This is the attitude
that riles all of us local people up every summer.
I agree with EastEnd68..................less people like the "entitled" Gilberts, more barns!
By lovesag (17), Sag Harbor on May 30, 12 8:51 AM
3 members liked this comment
By localeastendfarmer (1), southampton on May 30, 12 10:51 AM
When I was a kid out in the "hamptons" You could drive from Southampton to wainscott down 27 and see nothing but farm vistas...Now all you see is houses and the occasional open space. Sad..
By pstevens (406), Wilmington on May 30, 12 11:34 AM
2 members liked this comment
pstevens - if you want that go take a ride on the North Fork. Hamptons have changed. Some may say it's "sad" but how many people who are year round residents are economically dependent on this "sad" change?
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on May 30, 12 11:46 AM
1 member liked this comment
Oligarchy is a "sad" change.
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Jun 3, 12 12:18 AM
I wish there was a law that penalizes those who bring frivelous lawsuits, like make the loser pay twice way there suing for.
By maxwell (169), speonk on May 30, 12 1:25 PM
Build that barn Babinski your local friends support you 100%
By GoldenBoy (351), EastEnd on May 30, 12 4:53 PM
So let me get this straight.....they are suing the farmer for taking away their view of his farm.....read that slowly......for taking away their view of the farmers farm... That's the most ridiculous thing I've ever read.
By bubby (236), southampton on May 30, 12 5:14 PM
I wonder whose view the Gilbert house ruined?
By btdt (449), water mill on May 31, 12 10:50 AM
5 members liked this comment
Citdiots... love it

By EastEnd68 (888), Westhampton on May 31, 12 11:40 AM
farm views galore in Arkansas
By Jerry Eleyet (9), Southampton on Jun 1, 12 5:22 AM
farm views galore in Arkansas
By Jerry Eleyet (9), Southampton on Jun 1, 12 5:22 AM
Is there any wonder why farming and fishing are being exterminating on the East End? If you want to preserve farmland, then let farmers farm. To do that they need equipment, they need working structures and they need to carry out their profession. These neighbors wouldn't know a seed from a rock. Let the Babinskis do their thing!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
By factsandtruth (42), East Hampton on Jun 1, 12 10:12 AM
What a pile of poop! The Gilberts wanted to live in "the Hamptons" next to a farm. Now they're bitching about farming! Shut your traps and enjoy your good fortune, you'd be amazed how much noise and stank a pissed off farmer can unleash on the neighbors. Carry on Mr. Babinski, carry on.
By bigfresh (4666), north sea on Jun 2, 12 8:15 AM
NIMBY so said by so many after they come out and spend a furtune for houses, etc. talk to the people who bought CHEAP by the airport or the old BH racetrack and expecially the Sand and Gravel Mine on Millstone which has been there since I can remember (1960) and the so called "homeowners" who are now trying to close it down. GET REAL all you outsiders the locals will fight the NIMBY attitude. Go to the Jersey shore or Conn. but leave the farmers alone. NO FARMS NO FOOD!!!!!!!!
By xtiego (698), bridgehampton on Jun 3, 12 6:18 PM
1 member liked this comment