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Feb 26, 2019 4:26 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Duryea Settlement Stirs Discord On East Hampton Town Board

East Hampton Town Attorney Michael Sendlenski.
Feb 26, 2019 4:53 PM

The settlement of a lawsuit over the various uses of the former Perry B. Duryea & Son seafood market property sparked a recent tirade by East Hampton Town Attorney Michael Sendlenski against Councilman Jeffrey Bragman, who said he didn’t think the settlement “fought hard enough for the Town of East Hampton.”

Mr. Sendlenski took particular exception to the councilman’s criticisms, which he took to be an insult to the work of the attorneys in his office.

“We have five attorneys who are very dedicated, and work very hard, fighting for the Town of East Hampton,” Mr. Sendlenski said. “I will not sit in this seat and be told that somebody in my office didn’t fight hard enough for the Town of East Hampton. I especially won’t do that when a councilman who refuses to meet with the town attorney blows him off time after time after time, to review and go over issues—I won’t sit quietly and let him besmirch my office.”

Mr. Sendlenski said that the stipulations of the settlement had been circulated to the Town Board and discussed in closed-door executive sessions.

Mr. Bragman had begun the conversation at the Town Board meeting on Thursday, February 21, by voicing his dissatisfaction with the terms of the settlement, which had already been signed by Mr. Sendlenski and owner Marc Rowan’s attorneys. A Springs resident and frequent legal hawk, David Buda, had objected to the board not having made public the fact that the town was entering into a settlement over the property.

Mr. Bragman agreed with Mr. Buda and said that the board should have been discussing the settlement in public and that he thought the board should, or should have, held a public vote to authorize the settlement terms before it was signed.

“I’m not happy with this settlement,” Mr. Bragman said. “This is a pretty good deal for the other side, and I don’t see this as a good deal for the Town of East Hampton.

“I was very disturbed by the almost supine position the town is taking in this settlement,” he added. “I don’t think we fought hard enough for the Town of East Hampton, and I don’t think we fought hard enough for Montauk.”

Supervisor Peter Van Scoyoc defended Mr. Sendlenski’s office and the terms of the settlement, saying that the agreed-to terms, which the Town Board had been fully aware of and had not raised objection to in executive session discussions, helped settle some longstanding oddities with the property and will allow the owner, Mr. Rowan, to proceed with seeking permission to have a legal restaurant at the property.

In a conversation after the meeting, the supervisor said that while the Town Board would not typically vote to authorize the stipulations of a settlement, or discuss them in public session, all the board members were “fully informed as to the negotiations on the settlement, all the issues at hand were discussed, and the board was fully aware of what was being offered and what was being negotiated.”

The settlement requires Mr. Rowan to install a nitrogen-reducing septic system sufficient to service the entire 11,000-square-foot commercial building that contains the Duryea’s Lobster Deck restaurant and adjacent retail and wholesale businesses. It also requires the property owner to add enough parking to satisfy town code with regard to the size of the existing restaurant.

In exchange, the town will allow a portion of the property east of Tuthill Road, where the former Duryea family home is, to be used for the construction of the septic system and parking, even though it lies in a residential zone.

“They still need to go to site plan [review] in front of the Planning Board for the restaurant use, and the Planning Board will review the application fully on its merits as to the restaurant use, and the associated parking and upgraded septic,” Mr. Sendlenski said. “The Planning Board has full discretion to issue a determination on the project in any manner they see fit. There is no guarantee of approval and the Planning Board has complete autonomy to rule any way they want.”

Mr. Rowan’s representatives have already filed the application to the Planning Board for a special exception permit that would allow them to have a full-fledged restaurant at the property. Restaurants are a permitted use in the waterfront business zone, but require a special permit, which makes some additional demands of the owners to show that they will be able to handle septic and other restaurant waste adequately.

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LMFAO. Mike’s a good town attorney. I’m sure that he got the best deal he could. So many forces at work here. Duryea stacking the deck in the property’s favor years ago didn’t help...
By Draggerman (903), Southampton on Feb 27, 19 6:18 PM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By jim (45), hampton bays on Mar 1, 19 12:19 AM