Judge Tosses Suit to Stop Bowling Alley
A New York State Supreme Court justice has rejected a lawsuit that sought to halt construction by the East Hampton Indoor Tennis Club of a sports center on Daniel’s Hole Road near the town airport. In a ruling dated Sept. 29, Justice Denise F. Molia said the five East Hampton residents who brought suit lacked standing. The center will have a 10-lane bowling alley, large restaurant and bar, and a miniature golf course.
“Although the exact mileage of the petitioners’ residences from the subject site are in dispute, the petitioners are not adjoining property owners to the club, and it appears that all of their residences are between 1.5 miles and 2.1 miles from the site,” Justice Molia stated. A petitioner in such a case, “must show that it would suffer direct harm, injury that is in some way different from that of the public at large,” she said.
The petitioners were seeking to overturn the site plan approval of the project by the East Hampton Town Planning Board in May of last year. The club has 30 tennis courts on its over 24-acre property. Two of the courts, which are covered by a bubble, are being replaced by new structures.
In addition to lacking standing, Justice Molia faulted the petitioners for not having attended the public hearing before the East Hampton Town Planning Board on Feb. 24, 2016. “No members of the public commented at the hearing. None of the petitioners appeared, or submitted any objections or comments prior to the close of the public hearing,” her ruling states.
The petitioners are Joanna Grossman, Marie Zerilli, Barry Raeback, Stephen Bernstein, and Dominique Weiss, who live on or near South Breeze Drive in East Hampton, which the petitioners argued would be negatively affected by those seeking a shortcut from Route 114 to the new center.
Scott Rubenstein, the managing partner of the club, said yesterday that he considers several of the litigants friends and that legal action could have been avoided if he had been able to sit down with them before they brought suit.
Jeffrey L. Bragman, the attorney representing the petitioners who is a candidate for the East Hampton Town Board, said Tuesday that he believed the planning board made a grievous error when it approved the site plan. The reason there were no neighbors present to object during the hearing, in his opinion, was that there are essentially very few neighbors. The land, Mr. Bragman said, is in a groundwater protection area. “The county and the state have spent millions of dollars on open space,” he said, to protect the aquifer beneath the surface. The property is also zoned for recreational use, and Mr. Rubenstein said that includes bowling and miniature golf.
Mr. Bragman said he understood the desire of many East Hampton residents to have year-round facilities for youth, but that the 200-seat sports bar being built, and its potential septic flow, was alarming. “It’s about protecting our drinking water,” Mr. Bragman said. The petitioners and Mr. Bragman have not yet decided whether to appeal.
Mr. Rubenstein said that the septic flow allowed for the entire facility, 7,200 gallons, was higher than the 6,900 gallons actually expected. He noted that septic use had been calculated as if it were year round, while usage would be almost non-existent from November through April.
“There is a seasonality to all of the facilities,” he said. When tennis players are using the platform courts, they usually aren’t also using the indoor courts. He also said seating in the restaurant and bar is limited to 95 seats indoors and 84 outdoors, which would be used only seasonally.
“The bowling building is now fully enclosed,” he said, and the miniature golf course will be finished in the spring. “This facility will be for all of East Hampton, whether you are driving a Bentley or a pickup truck.”