PRESS RELEASE - For Immediate Distribution 8/26/99
FIRST EVER AUCTION OF PINE BARRENS CREDITS
SUCCESSFULLY COMPLETED TODAY
The Central Pine Barrens Credit program took a giant step forward today with the first auction by the Pine Barrens Credit Clearinghouse of Pine Barrens Credits. At the auction today chaired by the Clearinghouse advisory board chair James T. B. Tripp, the Clearinghouse sold four Pine Barrens Credits from the Town of Brookhaven for $158,000 and 10 Credits from the Town of Riverhead for $156,000, or a total of $314,000.
Robert J. Gaffney, Suffolk County Executive and Chairman of the Central Pine Barrens Joint Planning and Policy Commission, was ecstatic at the success of the auction: "The importance of this successful auction cannot be overstated. This is proof positive that Transfer of Development Rights works and will serve as a vital tool in our efforts to preserve the Pine Barrens and protect drinking water for future generations." Jim Tripp, Clearinghouse Chair, added that "The successful auction bids show that this Transfer of Development Rights program can be truly effective at protecting land in the core while providing development opportunities where the Towns prefer development to go. Indeed, the Long island transfer of development rights program now serves as a national model for using transfer market mechanisms to protect land, retard sprawl and redirect growth." Ray Corwin, executive director of the Pine Barrens Commission, pointed out that "the high bid for a Brookhaven Credit was $40,000, the first time that the price for such a Credit has broken through the 30's, and the high bid for a Riverhead Credit was $17,000, significantly above $10,000, the price at which the Clearinghouse sold a Riverhead Credit only a few months ago."
Under the Central Pine Barrens Plan that was approved in 1995, property owners who own land in the 52,500 acre core of the Pine Barrens in Brookhaven, Riverhead and Southampton are all eligible to receive development rights, known as Pine Barrens Credits, that they may transfer or sell to developers who may use them to build higher density residential and commercial developments, up to a prescribed level, in designated areas than zoning would otherwise allow. Or, developers may use credits to build higher intensity commercial developments without the need to build sewer treatment plants. Since 1995, both the State and the County have had active programs to acquire core Pine Barrens land. However, the Plan envisioned that a portion of the privately owned land in the core would be preserved through the Pine Barrens Credit program.
Obviously, a big question for property owners in the core area has been what the value of these Credits is and how acquisition prices offered by the County and State compare with the market price for Credits. Similarly, the question is how much developers are willing to pay for Credits to add allowable densities to specific developments. The Clearinghouse held this auction today since it had acquired four Brookhaven Credits and a significant number of Riverhead credits through various transactions with core area property owners.
John Girandola, Commissioner of Planning for the Town of Brookhaven, commented: "This successful auction shows that the Credit Program in Brookhaven is very healthy and working effectively and that the Town has provided a TDR program that works". At the Clearinghouse meeting today, Rick Hanley, director of Planning for the Town of Riverhead, announced that the Town had scheduled a public hearing for September 7 to consider adding some 50 acres of commercially and industrially zoned land to its receiving areas where Credits may be used. Mr. Hanley pointed out that "expanding the number of receiving areas in the Town could add even more value to Riverhead Credits in the future".
At the Clearinghouse meeting today, Mark Rizzo and John Milazzo, staff of the Clearinghouse and Commission, described the status of two important new initiatives that the Clearinghouse has decided to undertake to strengthen the market in Credits in Southampton and Brookhaven. In Southampton, the Clearinghouse is embarking on a "reverse auction", asking core area property owners if they would be willing to sell Credits between $17,500 and $20,000. Two Southampton developers have solicited assistance from the Clearinghouse in purchasing Credits. The Clearinghouse will also shortly be sending out a letter to all core area property owners asking them to offer a price for the purchase of their Credits by the Clearinghouse. The Clearinghouse board has agreed to set aside up to $1 million in its capital account for this purpose.
The five members of the Pine Barrens Clearinghouse are EDF's General Counsel Jim Tripp, Clearinghouse chair, representing Pine Barrens Commissioner member Felix Grucci, Supervisor of the Town of Brookhaven, Andy Freleng of the Suffolk County vice chair, representing Commissioner member County Executive Robert Gaffney, Mitch Pally of the Long Island Association representing Commissioner member Governor George Pataki, Rick Hanley, representing Commission member Vincent Villella, Riverhead Supervisor, and Herb Phillips representing Commissioner member Vincent Cannuscio, Southampton Supervisor.
FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
James Tripp, Chair of Clearinghouse Board: 212-505-2100 or 631-286-3835
Raymond Corwin, Director of Pine Barrens Commission: 631-563-0307