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Apr 19, 2016 9:39 AMPublication: The East Hampton Press

East Hampton Trustees Lose Legal Challenge To Georgica Beach Seawall

Mollie Zweig's stone groin was roped off in 2011 after Hurricane Irene.  PRESS FILE
Apr 19, 2016 2:10 PM

A state court has, again, rejected a challenge by the East Hampton Town Trustees to the construction of a rock revetment along the oceanfront of a house adjacent to Georgica Beach.

In an April 4 ruling, State Supreme Court Justice Andrew Tarantino rejected the Trustees’ legal challenge to a decision by the East Hampton Village Zoning Board of Appeals to allow the stone revetment to be constructed by homeowner Mollie Zweig. The Trustees’ case, the judge said, failed to show that the zoning board had acted capriciously or had failed to take into account the Trustees’ objections to the construction of the revetment.

“The board adequately analyzed and addressed the environmental impacts of the proposed erosion,” the judge wrote in his decision.

It is the second time that the court has upheld the validity of the ZBA’s approval of Ms. Zweig’s revetment. The Trustees first challenged the ZBA’s approval of the revetment in late 2013. The Trustees sued, but contractors working for Ms. Zweig constructed the revetment in April 2014. In November of that year Judge Tarantino upheld the approval but sent the review back to the ZBA to address a failure of compliance with state environmental review guidelines. The ZBA hurriedly went through the motions of compliance with the state rules and re-approved the application, prompting a second challenge by the Trustees.

The Trustees can appeal the ruling once it has been officially entered.

Along with finding the ZBA’s process sound, Judge Tarantino said that the Trustees attorneys, Eagan & Mathews LLP, failed to demonstrate why the Trustees have any objections to the construction of the revetment, beyond that they are the adjacent property owners.

The Trustees in both Southampton and East Hampton have opposed the construction of seawalls and rock revetments since the early 1990s, saying they pose a threat to the existence of the ocean beaches by exacerbating erosion, especially in light of looming sea level rise. But all the residential properties surrounding Georgica Beach have had seawalls since the 1970s, except Ms. Zweig’s, leaving her property the victim of the accelerated erosion the Trustees have said they fear.

Ms. Zweig’s property lost 90 feet of dunelands and lawn to erosion in 2011 and 2012, when two hurricanes and several strong nor’easters caused extensive erosion along much of the South Fork’s beachfront.

Judge Tarantino left open the question of where Ms. Zweig’s property ends and the Trustees-owned beach begins, which is the subject of a separate lawsuit still pending in state court. In that suit, the Trustees have claimed their jurisdiction extends to the natural line of dune grass, while Ms. Zweig has claimed her property line is set according to a number of linear feet seaward of West End Road.

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So the homeowner can construct a seawall and pass the erosion on to the next person....how nice...... Here's a thought...remove all seawalls and let the ocean do it's job of replenishing the sand as it is supposed to do..
By sandydog21 (195), Southampton on Apr 19, 16 11:58 AM
1 member liked this comment
Anyone else notice that fence in the beach???

That's what happens when a homeowner claims the beach as private property.

Get ready for more fences on the beaches now.
By H2O (85), easthampton on Apr 19, 16 4:02 PM
That fence is long gone. It's a photo taken during the construction in 2012.
By ehbs (1), East Hampton on Apr 20, 16 6:11 AM
Fence might be long gone but the potential of it going back up is always going to be on the mind of not just that ocean front homeowner but also others.
By H2O (85), easthampton on Apr 21, 16 11:45 AM
And also, it wasn't from the reventment construction from the Zba decision. It was after storms and a quick snap decision to stop public access by the owner.
By H2O (85), easthampton on Apr 21, 16 11:46 AM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By H2O (85), easthampton on Apr 21, 16 11:46 AM
Hot Tubs,SALE, Southampton Village, SouthamptonFest weekend