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Jan 9, 2018 3:01 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Devon Yacht Club Gets Temporary Stay Against Oyster Growers

Jan 9, 2018 3:48 PM

A state court judge granted the Devon Yacht Club a temporary restraining order last week, blocking Suffolk County from activating any leases of bottomlands in Gardiners Bay to shellfish growers until a February hearing on the club’s legal challenge.

An attorney for the 101-year-old yacht club said she is hopeful that negotiations with the county over the proposed shellfish lease areas near the club will result in an agreeable settling of the issue, rather than a protracted legal battle.

“I don’t see any reason why we shouldn’t be able to work this out,” said Linda Margolin, who filed the legal challenge to the county’s leasing program on behalf of the club. “The county has the right to relocate any lease for reasons of public policy.”

Last summer, an advisory committee, which awards leases of 20-acre plots of bay bottoms outside town waters to shellfish growers, approved six new leases in the area just offshore the Devon Yacht Club, in a portion of Gardiners Bay known as Napeague Bay.

Ms. Margolin said she was informed this week by the county that only one of those potential lessees is still a candidate for setting up a shellfish operation in the area off Devon. All the others had either not received final approval or had requested other lease areas.

The county has created hundreds of the 20-acre lease sites throughout the Peconics and in the small corner of Gardiners Bay near Devon. Just 45 are being actively worked by shellfish growers, including two off Napeague.

The yacht club’s members say that if all 20 of the potential lease areas are developed with aquaculture gear the buoys and shellfish racks would pose a hazard to sailboats from the yacht club. The lawsuit challenged the county’s process in approving the lease sites, saying that it failed to consider the impact on recreational users of the same waterways.

The yacht club and county are due to appear in State Supreme Court again on February 7.

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