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Sale of Kaplan Farm in North East depends on subdivision approval

NORTH EAST — If all goes according to plan, come Wednesday, Oct. 14, Millerton resident and North East landowner Linda Kaplan will learn from the town’s Planning Board if she will be able to subdivide her late husband, Sam’s, family farm, which was left to her when he passed away in 2017. If so, two of the three parcels of the former Joseph Kaplan and Sons, Inc., Dairy Farm will finally be able to be sold — after more than a decade on the real estate market -— though Linda is the first to admit that Sam could never really bring himself to let go of the family farm, no matter how much he grumbled about wanting to make millions from it.

“We had some offers, yes, but they were usually less than my husband wanted to take,” said Linda in an interview last week. “The honest answer is, I don’t think Sam was too anxious to sell. He loved the farm. I think it worked out the way it was supposed to. He didn’t have to see the farm go. Everyday, he would go down and spend time there.”

The Kaplan Farm is known to most people in the area, even if not by name. It’s right on Route 22, south of Millerton, at 5681-5705 Route 22 to be exact. It’s the colorfully painted building, next to a small bungalow that’s adjacent to an ancient but still beautiful farmhouse that appears in danger of falling down, which Linda said recently had a new roof installed to make it more attractive to potential buyers. 

There are three parcels: Two of the parcels are in contract for an undisclosed amount. Linda said the parcels “have already been divided by Route 22.” The main parcel is 268 acres, and across the road on Route 22 is another 49-acre parcel. The third lot is 148 acres — that’s located on McGhee Hill Road, explained Linda. The North East Planning Board is holding a public hearing on Wednesday, Oct. 14, to grant minor subdivision approval. The application was originally submitted in July.

North East Planning Board Chairman Dale Culver doesn’t foresee any issues with the application.

“There really are no requirements. The land is cleaved by two different roads already, taking a section east of 22 and a section west of 22 that’s selling, and keeping a piece south of McGhee Hill Road,” he said. “Just the rest of it they’re selling. There isn’t even a line to draw really, in some sense, because the road is the line delineation. It’s no big deal. What happens afterward, that’s up to interpretation. The initial part is clean and crisp and really there’s nothing to deal with.”

Culver agreed that Sam had a tough time letting the farm go. He said it was a “family legacy” that ran deep. He added he hasn’t heard what the new buyer intends to do with the former dairy farm, and hasn’t asked Linda since it “isn’t his right because whoever the buyer is isn’t the applicant. Linda is.” Culver went on to add that, “I wish her well, that’s all, she survived a lot. She survived Sam,” he added good-heartedly, noting Sam was a character known to many in the local community. “She’ll survive this.” 

Although she said she’s extremely pleased an offer was made for the farm, Linda said she doesn’t know what the plans are for its future either.

“Hopefully [it will get approved] but you never know till the last t is crossed and i is dotted,” she said. “That’s where I stand at this point. I have no idea what the buyer plans to do at this point.”

She added the farm had been “for sale for quite a long time, over 10 years.” Sam’s father bought the dairy farm in the early ‘40s, and then sadly it burned down in the 1960s. The Kaplan Farm was known around the region for its livestock auction, added Linda.

“I can remember as a kid, cars would be lined up, all down Route 22 for the auction on Mondays,” she said. “I think they had about 100 heads of dairy cows. There were auctions, all kinds. People who came to bid were from all over. I would meet people all the time who would say, ‘Oh yeah, my dad used to bring animals to the auction.’ I’m not sure when the auction ceased; I would say it went up to 1960 maybe, through the 50s at least. There was an auction in Wassaic. Yes, there is a lot of history.” 

One thing that Sam constantly complained about when he was around, said his wife, was that the town’s zoning codes made it difficult for him to sell his property. Linda conceded that zoning could be problematic when trying to sell land in a rural area.

“Because there was nothing commercial that could be used there [we had a hard time selling the farm],” she said. “Sam had a hardware store that wanted to relocate there before he put the farm up for sale, but zoning wouldn’t allow it. They weren’t interested in rezoning or anything like that. That was probably in the 80s.”

The Kaplan Farm is in the town’s A5A agricultural residential zone, where commercial development is not allowed under current zoning regulations.

Culver, for his part, agreed that zoning can complicate selling land — especially when the buyer has specific intentions for the property.

“I don’t know,” he said. “Because zoning can always either help or hurt the sale of property depending on what you want to do or how a land is zoned because when you look a property you know how it is zoned.”

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