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Susan Galardi

DAN'S PAPERS, September 25, 2009 Page 15

Farm Loses White Farm in Sagaponack Loses its Court Case with Developer By Dan Rattiner The final chapter in a nasty legal battle involving the White farm in Sagaponack came to a sad end last week. It could mean yet another housing development coming to the Hamptons in that Village sometime soon. The White family has owned what was originally a 300-acre oceanfront potato farm in Sagaponack since Revolutionary times. It’s been handed down from generation to generation without problem over all these centuries, and it comprised, along with many other farms, what used to be a stunningly beautiful carpet of more than 40 oceanfront potato farms extending nearly five miles from The Georgica Association in Wainscott to the wetlands of Mecox Bay. Only five of these farms are left today. The White farm is one of them. Beginning around 1970, when the value of the farmland as real estate began to exceed its value

as potato fields, the farmers found themselves with serious inheritance tax problems. When a farmer passed on, the farm would be left to one of the sons in the family who would have to pay what had become breathtakingly large taxes. Usually that meant that a piece of the farm had to be sold off to developers to pay the bill. The farms continued, but were smaller. Various creative ways were found to alleviate this particular problem, and some were successful, but in the end, the taxes continued to be a big issue for the farmers. When “Red” White wanted to do some estate planning back in 1998 to be able to pass the farm down to his sons, he asked the summer tenant of one of the property’s oceanfront cottages—an attorney named Anthony Petrello—to help him with it. Petrello agreed, and though no written legal arrangement was signed, he arranged to do so not for money, but for the option to buy a 10-acre

piece of the White farmland for a below-market price of $2.1 million. The $2.1 million would be a great help in paying taxes. A big disagreement occurred between the two parties after that, beginning in June 2000, when the closing was supposed to take place. Petrello wanted to close on the property and pay the money, but White, under new advice, felt that after the two years that had passed, the 10 acres were now worth far more than the $2.1 million they had agreed upon. He was probably right about that. Land prices had been increasing steadily, but now were skyrocketing. White refused to close. As a result of that, Petrello sued to force the closing and White countersued, saying that Petrello committed fraud in advising him on estate planning, including the evaluation of the farm, which Petrello evaluated at a lower price, (continued on page 28)

THE MAILBOX IN FRONT OF YOUR HOUSE By Dan Rattiner I have just discovered a really neat thing. The mailbox in front of your house where you get all your bills and fliers? You can mail things from there. Until now, I had no idea you could do this. I thought it was just the place where you GOT your mail—the bills and junk and all the rest. But that’s not true! It’s really neat. It’s like email, except it doesn’t get to the recipient right away. But unlike email, you can SEND things. I wanted to send my daughter a drawing I made—but I didn’t want to go to the trouble of scanning it, downloading it and so forth and so on. So I used THIS.

All you do is put what you want to send in an envelope, lick the envelope, put a first-class stamp on the front, write the name and address of who you’re sending it to, and then walk it out and stick it in the mailbox. Everything you need can be found at any stationery store. And all you’ll need is a pack of envelopes and a roll of stamps. They are really cheap. The envelopes cost 12 cents each. The stamps are 44 cents each. This is ridiculous. When you get down to the mailbox, you’ll see a little red metal flag on one side that you might have wondered about. It swivels. When you swivel it so it points straight up, it alerts the mailman who brings you all your bills and other junk, that you’ve got a piece of OUTGO-

ING mail inside. He shouldn’t put the junk and bills in there until after he takes that out. He could get them mixed up. I’ve watched the mailman come from my window. He drives up in his boxy white truck with the steering wheel on the wrong side, sees the flag sticking up, opens the mailbox and fiddles around in there longer than usual. Then he drives off, and my letter is gone. Two or three days later, if you call your friend, you’ll find that, along with their bills and junk mail, they’ve received what you sent. What a surprise! I can’t believe I have lived here all this time with the mailbox out front, and never knew it (continued on page 28)

Dan's Papers Sept. 25, 2009  

Dan's Papers, the 51-year-old bible of the Hamptons, is owned by Manhattan Media, a multi-media publishing company based in New York City,...

Dan's Papers Sept. 25, 2009  

Dan's Papers, the 51-year-old bible of the Hamptons, is owned by Manhattan Media, a multi-media publishing company based in New York City,...