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Aug 20, 2019 3:23 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

East Hampton Town Zoning Board Revokes Duryea's CO, But Awaits Court Action

Duryea's Lobster Deck in Montauk.    MICHAEL WRIGHT
Aug 20, 2019 3:23 PM

The East Hampton Town Zoning Board of Appeals voted unanimously last week to revoke the certificate of occupancy for Duryea’s Lobster Deck in Montauk.

The zoning board members acknowledged that their decision was being rendered even though a federal judge had already issued an order earlier this summer saying that the restaurant’s CO will remain valid until he has ruled on whether the legal settlement that led to the CO being issued is valid.

Board members said that they saw the certificate of occupancy as wholly null and void, absent a legal court order demanding that it be issued, because the property had gone through none of the usually required analyses for a certificate to be issued.

“In light of the CO being issued without a building permit, site plan, [Natural Resources Special Permit] determination by the ZBA and in light of the fact that the Town Board was not presented with the stipulation of settlement for approval, I recommend revocation,” zoning board member Roy Dalene said.

The certificate of occupancy essentially legalized all of the existing features at the Duryea’s property, despite the fact that a number of features at the property were created without permits and were at issue. It was issued by Chief Building Inspector Ann Glennon in February in accordance with the stipulations in the settlement of a three lawsuits brought against the town by the owner of Duryea’s, billionaire hedge fund manager Marc Rowan. But just weeks later the town asked the judge in the case, David T. Reilly, to void the settlement, claiming that it had been signed by former East Hampton Town Attorney Michael Sendlenski without authorization from the Town Board.

Shortly afterward, Ms. Glennon asked that the ZBA review whether the CO should be revoked.

Attorneys for Mr. Rowan attempted to block the ZBA from issuing its ruling, claiming the board had no authority to rule on the matter since it was before the judge, but board members said they had to rule within 60 days and that they would do so with the understanding that the power of their findings was stayed until Judge Reilly has ruled.

But in the interim, the board made it clear that it saw no justification for the Duryea’s property being given a CO without a lot more deliberation.

“We have a lot of protections put into place by our community — protections that include both codes and a process that all landowners go through before they are able to build things,” board member Tim Brenneman said. “And I think there is great wisdom in that process that was seemingly circumvented here.”

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By chief1 (2800), southampton on Aug 20, 19 6:52 PM
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By em (51), sagaponack on Sep 3, 19 1:25 AM