Businesses on Alert

Proposed parking rules called a ‘slippery slope’

Concerned that the formula by which parking requirements are determined may not adequately address actual needs for some businesses, the East Hampton Town Board is proposing a zoning code amendment that would change that formula for bars, taverns, or restaurants that are accessories to resorts or motels. 

Business owners are taking notice, particularly in Montauk. 

An email from the Montauk Chamber of Commerce on Monday implored its membership to attend a hearing on the code amendment tonight at 6:30 at Town Hall. “The businesses need to attend and speak up,” it reads, “because this code change may very well, at some point, negatively affect your business.” 

The impetus for the proposed code amendment, Supervisor Peter Van Scoyoc said Tuesday, was the board’s recognition that “if existing businesses, which may not even meet their parking under code now, wish to add additional amenities and create additional traffic to their place of business, that there be a provision that they meet those requirements for parking to not further burden the community with overcrowding.”

Included in the proposal would be a statute limiting the area of certain uses. “A resort, transient motel, semipublic facility, or club may have an accessory use for incidental service, such as restaurants, bars, retail shops, etc.,” a legal notice reads. The total aggregate area devoted to such accessory use is not to exceed an area equal to one-third of the aggregate floor area. 

The amendment should not have been considered “without significant input from the business community,” Paul Monte, the Montauk chamber’s president, wrote in the email on Monday. “This type of change to the code can easily become a slippery slope resulting in the loss of significant grandfathered rights to all types of businesses and a great loss in property values to many commercial properties.”

“There have been comments made around town that this is targeted at one specific business,” Mr. Monte said, an apparent reference to Hero Beach Club, formerly the Oceanside motel, which seeks to add a restaurant and bar. “However,” Mr. Monte added, “it can and will have a significant impact on many businesses in Montauk. If you are currently pre-existing, nonconforming in any respect and have grandfathered rights on your property, this proposal should concern you.” 

An anonymous letter to the town board, however, supports the proposal, detailing a litany of concerns about Hero Beach Club, located at the west end of Montauk’s downtown and the entrance to the village. “We were pleased to learn that the East Hampton Town Board is attempting to be proactive in its efforts to control chaos and prevent further destruction to the quality of life in Montauk,” it reads. “How long before the roadway in and out of town becomes as treacherous as the roadway from the Montauk Railroad Station to Surf Lodge during July and August?” 

The proposed code change, Supervisor Van Scoyoc said on Tuesday, is “definitely not” specific to Hero Beach Club. Rather, he said, “It’s targeted to a whole class of businesses.” 

The areas of concern may be concentrated in Montauk due to the number of motels there, the supervisor said, but the issue applies to “any business that might add some other use or amenity.” 

The hearing is expected to draw a crowd.

On a separate matter, another group, OLA (Organizacion Latino-Americana) of Eastern Long Island, a nonprofit organization that promotes social, economic, cultural, and educational development for the region’s Latino communities, is urging people to attend tonight’s meeting. 

OLA is asking for public testimony related to “the treatment and protection of vulnerable and nonviolent, contributing members of our East End communities,” according to a flier it is distributing. 

The group is advocating legislation establishing a barrier between the East Hampton Town Police Department and the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, as well as requiring every police car to have a dedicated cellphone for live interpretation. It also wants the board to ensure that the Police Department has clear policies about traffic stops and checkpoints so that residents are not targeted based on race, ethnicity, or assumptions about immigration status. OLA is asking that people sign up to speak at tonight’s meeting. 

“Families are being separated right here in our towns as a result of inconsistent policies, unnecessary cooperation with ICE on nonviolent offenses, a criminalizing code that serves as a harassment tool for anti-immigrant groups, and increased enforcement on traffic violations that are landing people in Suffolk County jail and then in deportation proceedings,” the flier reads. 

OLA organized public testimony at the Southampton Town Board’s meeting on Sept. 25. The political leadership of that town and East Hampton, the flier reads, “promised they would not enact the worst of all policies — deputizing local police as ICE agents,” however “they have not taken the necessary steps to protect the peaceful and good members of our amazing community.” 

Also on the agenda tonight is a public hearing on the Wainscott hamlet study, which is covered elsewhere in this issue.