By Andrew Wroblewski
After an unsuccessful attempt six years ago, Huntington Town officials are once again exploring the possibility of buying the development rights of the historic Tilden Lane Farm in Greenlawn.
At Tuesday’s council meeting, board members unanimously approved a resolution to schedule a public hearing for Aug. 11 at 2 p.m., where the potential purchase of the development rights to the popular 13.5 acres Christmas tree destination will be discussed.
In 2009, Town of Huntington and Suffolk County officials proposed a similar joint purchase, but they were ultimately turned down by then-owner Herbert S. Tilden. Tilden died in November at 92 years old.
Tilden’s sons, Don, Bruce, Lee, John, and daughter-in-law Ann Tilden, the wife of Tilden’s late son, Jeffrey, now own the farm.
Don Tilden, managing partner of Tilden Realty LLC, said he reached out to both the town and county with renewed interest in selling the farm’s agriculture development rights so that the family can continue to operate the farm.
“We would like to continue what we’re doing and to be able to sustain that, but it’s just been a trouble to keep that going,” he said.
In selling the development rights to the town and county, use of the property would forever be restricted to farming. The deal would come with a conservation easement, which could bring tax breaks, according to a town resolution.
This would allow the Tilden family to continue selling Christmas trees each November and December, as it has done for more than 50 years, Tilden said.
“We haven’t done a lot of farmland preservation and this is a great opportunity for us to do so… and reassure the community that the property will always be open space,” said Huntington Councilman Mark Cuthbertson, sponsor of the town’s resolution. Cuthbertson added that he’s taken his children to the farm in the past to cut down Christmas trees.
To make the purchase, town officials plan to appropriate funds from Huntington’s Open Space Land and Park Improvements Reserve Fund. Should the farm meet the requirements of the County Farmland Committee, those funds would then be matched through one of Suffolk’s land protection programs.
Town spokesman A.J. Carter said the town is in negotiations with the Tilden family on a purchase price.
Tilden Lane Farm, located just off of Broadway Greenlawn at 48 Wyckoff St., was originally purchased by Israel Tilden Sr. in 1793 and has since been passed down from generation to generation.
In 1976, the farm was recognized as a National Bicentennial Farm for its more than 200 years of continuous farm use.