Photo credit: Gordon M. Grant | The horse barns owned by Madonna on Mitchells Lane in Bridgehampton. (Sept. 17, 2013)
Suffolk has ordered pop icon Madonna to remove an access road built on her Bridgehampton horse farm, saying it violates county preservation laws.
County planning officials recently sent the singer a cease-and-desist letter after discovering that her 24-acre property -- for which the county co-owns development rights -- was improperly being used as a cut-through for construction vehicles to get to her adjacent land.
A representative of the singer said the road has since been removed, though county officials say they are awaiting a written response.
County law prohibits any "driveway, roadway, path or thoroughfare" on land belonging to its farmland preservation program, unless it's for agricultural production. Using the limited liability corporation Wild Horses Farms, Madonna purchased the Mitchells Lane plot for $2 million in 2010, though Suffolk and Southampton jointly hold development rights.
The Aug. 22 letter from Sarah Lansdale, county director of planning and environment, warned that Madonna's LLC and the construction firm using the road could face legal action if they don't comply.
But a representative of the singer said Tuesday that the situation has been resolved.
Edward Burke Sr., the Southampton attorney for Wild Horses Farms LLC, called it "an unfortunate mistake."
The construction firm doing work on the adjacent property couldn't get its equipment through the common driveway, Burke said, so workers cut a path out of the farmland's sod, moved the sod to the side and sent its vehicles through.
"It's been filled back in, seeded, and we'll have the before-and-after photos to bring back to the Farmland Committee to show compliance," Burke said.
A publicist for Madonna didn't respond to requests for comment.
The county's Farmland Committee, which enforces the preservation program -- under which a quarter-cent sales tax funds development rights purchases -- plans to address the matter at its Sept. 24 meeting.
"Suffolk County takes this matter very seriously and we expect that all participants in the Farmland Preservation Program will abide by its terms, or we will take action to enforce the law," said Deputy County Executive Jon Schneider, adding that the county is awaiting a written response from the LLC with Burke's explanation.
Burke said the unpaved road in question was always temporary, and that "there was no harm done."