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Mar 19, 2014 3:29 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press

Construction Continues At Georgica Beach; Restraining Order Lifted

Mar 19, 2014 3:36 PM

Despite a pending lawsuit against Mollie Zweig, the philanthropist and Georgica Beach homeowner resumed work on a rock revetment in front of her oceanfront property on March 13.

State Supreme Court Justice Andrew Tarantino lifted the temporary restraining order filed by the East Hampton Town Trustees, which had prevented any work from being done since November, according to Ms. Zweig’s attorney Stephen Angel of Esseks, Heftner, & Angel LLP.

The Trustees sought a preliminary injunction to “stay, enjoin and/or restrain the work,” which was denied by the New York State Supreme Court, and later appealed to the state’s Appellate Division, where it was again denied on March 12.

According to the decision, “once the court determines that the plaintiff has not shown that he or she would suffer irreparable injury, there is no basis to continue the temporary restraining order.”

“We’re obviously disappointed,” said David Eagan, an attorney for the East Hampton Town Trustees. “We believe Judge [Andrew] Tarantino’s decision to lift the TRO, in effect, for lack of harm, we obviously disagree with that.”

In April 2013, Ms. Zweig received a tidal wetlands permit from the State Department of Environmental Conservation, “which authorized and required her to remove the existing stone groin and to construct a stone revetment.”

Subsequently, Ms. Zweig’s application went before the Village Zoning Board of Appeals for a public hearing in October 2013, and she received the proper approval to begin work.

In November, the Trustees claimed Ms. Zweig’s project was being done in its jurisdiction, and she failed to obtain their approval. The Trustees then obtained a temporary restraining order on November 13 to stop work. The temporary restraining order was extended on December 13, according to the decision.

Ms. Zweig applied for approval from the Trustees on February 24, according to the decision, “for their consideration at their meeting held the following day, but that there is currently no definitive date as to when the application will be processed and considered.”

The decision also states that the Trustees recently approved the request of Ms. Zweig’s neighbor to replenish sand over existing sea walls, stating, “It is also noteworthy that the Trustees have no written criteria nor any environmental department to consider the application before them.”

Despite the Appellate Court’s decision, Mr. Eagan said there are two positive effects of the outcome for his client.

“One, the application was submitted to the Trustees, and I think that weighed heavily in [Justice Tarantino’s] decision. Also, Ms. Zweig is proceeding at her own risk, and if the underlying action is decided against her … it will have to be removed at her own expense.”

Mr. Eagan said there is a letter request out by the Trustees, asking Ms. Zweig for additional information in order to be considered for a permit, and the current application before the Trustees is missing a signature, but the Trustees are “keeping an open mind with respect to it.”

Diane McNally, clerk for the East Hampton Town Trustees, said she and the board are looking for an updated survey of the land, and a clarification regarding a proposed stairway that was not included in the original written description.

“If you looked at what the DEC permitted, what the ZBA permitted, and what was submitted to us, they’re all different,” Ms. McNally said. “That’s what we wanted. Let’s be really, really clear, so we all know what’s being proposed.”

In terms of granting a permit going forward, Ms. McNally said, there is no deadline for handing in the requested information and no deadline for issuing a permit, if the board decided to do so.

The original lawsuit over who has the jurisdiction over Ms. Zweig’s rock revetment is still pending.

“The lawsuit hasn’t gone away,” Mr. Angel said. “It will have to be resolved over a period of time, however long that is. But for now, the construction can continue.”

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