Source: The Independent

Consider Stretch Zone Change

by Kitty Merrill

December 05, 2012

Tonight East Hampton town planners are expected to continue discussion of a zone change request for a property on the Napeague Stretch, the site of the popular Cyril’s Fish House.

The town board is imbued with the power to grant zone change requests, but it’s standard procedure to solicit input from the planning board in making a determination as to whether to give the green light. Once planners finish providing their insight, town board members will have their own discussion, then host a public hearing for community members to weigh in.

Back in 2010 planning department staff prepared a memo for the town board outlining aspects of the request made by property owner Michael Dioguardi. The applicant asked to change the zoning on two parcels – the one where Cyril’s sits and an adjacent vacant piece to the immediate west. Both are currently zoned A: Residence; the applicant wants to change it to Neighborhood Business.

The restaurant on the site was constructed prior to the adoption of zoning, and the most recent certificate of occupancy for the property dates back to 1969. Since then, according to a memo prepared by the town planning department, “a number of other additions, site improvements and structures have been built without the necessary permits.”

Over the years the property has been the subject of a number of applications to both the planning board and the zoning board of appeals in an effort to legalize already-built additions and new structures on the site. A memo from the chief building inspector in 2009 listed 15 separate structures that were not legally pre-existing, including a gravel seating area with a total of 60 additional seats. The current bar fronts on Montauk Highway, and during the summer patrons actually imbibe their libations and congregate in the highway right-of-way. A total of 26 area variances would be required to bring the property up to code. The memo states there are “significant obstacles” to the granting of the zone change request.

Beyond the volume of code violations on the site, there’s the question of the impact the change would have on the surrounding neighborhood.

The planners’ memo notes only one other property along the Stretch was granted a similar downzoning. As part of a land swap with the town several years ago, the Lobster Roll parcel was designated Neighborhood Business. Only four other properties along the Stretch are commercially zoned; they’re resort uses, for condos and motels. Another eight properties comprise pre-existing commercial uses in residentially zoned areas. The bulk of the Napeague Stretch was zoned for parks and conservation and low density residential in the early 1980s.

The planning board began discussion of the zone change last week, but reached a consensus among members. They wanted additional time to consider myriad facets of the application as well as input from the property owner’s attorneys.

kmerrill@indyeastend.com