The owners of Jamesport Manor Inn on Thursday morning attempted to convince the Riverhead Town Board to end the 10-year litigation between the two sides and give them a special permit to build a 4,200 square foot barn in the back of the property, as well as a 1,200 square foot tent near the road for catering events.
But it doesn’t appear the town council appears open to granting the permit.
Jamesport Manor Inn co-owner Frank McVeigh said he expects to lose about $81,000 this year on the restaurant, an historic structure that was rebuilt several years ago after it was destroyed by fire. Mr. McVeigh said the restaurant use alone isn’t enough to sustain the business financially.
Under the town code, a use that pre-existed zoning and doesn’t conform to its current zoning can be expanded if the Town Board grants a special permit to do so. Special permit applications require public hearings.
However, Town Board members balked at the idea, since they say the expansion is bigger than what’s there now.
The Jamesport Manor Inn restaurant is 2,930 square feet and has 80 seats. The barn being proposed would be 4,200 square feet and would have 150 seats, which is down from the 182 seats proposed back in 2008.
The property, on the east side of Manor Road in Jamesport, is 3.8 acres.
Supervisor Sean Walter says he doesn’t think the Town Board has ever granted an expansion of a non-conforming use that was more than 100 percent.
“I am not about to set a precedent,” he told Mr. McVeigh.
The Inn, which is more than 250 years old, had sat unused for several years before Mr. McVeigh and co-owner Matt Kar undertook a plan to restore it. That plan was set back by the 2005 fire, after which they built a new structure to resemble the historic building.
The owners had made this same proposal in 2008 and were rejected by the town Zoning Board of Appeals in 2009 on an application seeking an interpretation as to whether the proposed catering use was an extension of the restaurant, and could be granted by special permit. But the ZBA denied the application on the grounds that it felt the owners failed to post a hearing notice properly so they could get an adjournment, rather than on the question before it.
The case went to court and a state supreme court judge in 2010 ordered the town to process the application. But a state appellate court later overruled the state supreme court and said the whole case had to go back to state supreme court, which is where it is currently.
Mr. McVeigh and Ms. Margolin made their case to the Town Board to just make the application for a special permit and eliminate the need for the courts or the ZBA.
But the discussion ended with no clear verdict.
Asked afterward what the conclusion of the half-hour long discussion was, Mr. Walter replied, “I don’t think there was one.”
The Riverhead Town Board met to to discuss traffic summonses with Police Chief David Hegermiller at its work session today, after Councilman John Dunleavy claimed in a brief discussion last week that some police officers didn’t issue a single Town Code violation all year.
The board also discussed a proposal to require owners of swimming pools to have a holding tank for emptying the pool, and the Jamesport Manor Inn and Mainstream House, a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center.
Click below to read a recap of the conversation and see the full work session agenda below that.
The Jamesport Manor Inn’s proposal to add a catering hall to its Manor Lane property is back on the town’s agenda.
A state Supreme Court judge last week overturned an earlier court ruling on the case, saying the catering hall application must go back to Riverhead’s Zoning Board of Appeals for a ruling on its merits.
“This is a good thing,” said John Ciarelli, a Manor Inn attorney, told the News-Review. “We’re going to go full speed ahead and try to get this thing resolved finally.”
In 2009, property owners Matt Kar and Frank McVeigh had sought a ZBA ruling challenging town planning director Rick Hanley’s decision that the plans needed a special permit from the Town Board, in addition to a site plan approval from the Planning Board.
But the ZBA in 2009 denied that application on the grounds that the hearing notice was not properly posted — a move the judge last week called “arbitrary and capricious” — rather than on the merits of the case.
That led to a lawsuit filed by Kar-McVeigh LLC in 2009, which was decided in the inn owners’ favor by state Supreme Court Justice Peter Cohalan in 2010.
Judge Cohalan, in that ruling, ordered the town to process the application. The town appealed that ruling, and in March of 2012, an appeals court overturned Judge Cohalan’s ruling, saying he was wrong in ruling that the town had to process the application before the town’s appeal on the motion to dismiss the case was decided.
The appeals court also rejected the town’s motion to dismiss the case.
This put the case back in state Supreme Court.
Judge Cohalan retired last year, and his replacement, Judge Joseph Farneti, ruled last Tuesday that the whole thing had to go back to the ZBA for a decision on the merits.
He said in his decision that the ZBA determination to reject the application based on the improper hearing notice “lacks a rational basis and is arbitrary and capricious.”
Jamesport Manor Inn had previously received a ZBA ruling from Judge Cohalan in 2007 upholding a 2004 ZBA ruling allowed Kar-McVeigh to have catering, but only in the main building.
That decision pertained to a lawsuit filed by neighbors, which ultimately was decided in Kar-McVeigh’s favor.
But when the inn owners sought permission to build a temporary tent or a permanent 4,000-square-foot barn for catering on the four-acre site that also houses the Jamesport Manor Inn, Mr. Hanley ruled that this would constitute an expansion of a “nonconforming, pre-existing use,” which requires a special permit from the Town Board.
A nonconforming, pre-existing use is one that doesn’t conform with the property’s zoning, but which has existed before zoning.
Mr. Ciarelli said the catering hall is needed for the restaurant and inn to be economically feasible.
“I don’t think the community is going to feel an impact at all,” he said. “It’s not like the catering use is going to happen every day. It’s a nicely run operation, the property is beautiful and there’s nothing going to happen that will change that. They spent a lot of money trying to restore the building and this is an economic necessity for them.”
Riverhead Supervisor Sean Walter said he was aware of the court ruling, but deferred to the ZBA.
“It’s a ZBA ruling, so it’s an issue for the ZBA to decide whether they will appeal the ruling or not,” Mr. Walter said.
The Town Board funds the ZBA and appoints its members, but other for that, the ZBA is an autonomous board, he added.
Those who want to meet the artists behind an exhibit on display at the Rosalie Dimon Gallery at the Jamesport Manor Inn through Oct. 31 can do so today, Sunday.
Between 3 and 5 p.m., master printmaker Dan Welden and classical realist Elizabeth Malunowicz will be on hand at the Rosalie Dimon Gallery for a free meet and greet event, which includes local wine and specialty cheeses.
Dan Welden, an original pioneer of safer alternative printmaking techniques, has been at the forefront of the art since the early 1970s and is a co-author of the book, “Printmaking in the Sun.”
The director of Hamptons Editions, Ltd. in Sag Harbor, Mr. Welden has collaborated with artists such as Willem and Elaine de Kooning, Eric Fischl and Dan Flavin and exhibits his work with BCB Gallery in Hudson, N.Y.
Elizabeth Malunowicz, a classical realist, attended private academies such as the Long Island Academy of Fine Art and Stevenson Academy and believes painting has subconscious power that can represent a rang of ideas, emotions and contemplations.
Her award-winning works have been widely exhibited in juried shows throughout Long Island such as the Islip Museum of Art and the Lyceum Gallery a Suffolk County Community College Riverhead.
She recently received Best in Show for her entry in East End Arts Gallery’s National Juried Show.
For more information, contact Jane Kirkwood, East End Arts Council gallery director at 727-0900, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.eastendarts.org
A proposal to build a wind turbine at the Riverhead Sewer District headquarters got rave reviews from most of the speakers at a public hearing before the Riverhead Town Board Tuesday night.
The proposed 750 kw wind turbine would cost a maximum of $1.8 million to construct but the energy it generates for the sewer plant would pay off that cost within 11 years and would generate $5 million in savings after 25 years, according to consultant Peter Rusy of DHL Power.
The turbine would be 275 high when its blade is at its highest, but would probably not be noticeable to Riverside Drive neighbors because of the trees, he said. It also would generate less than 50 decibels of noice, Mr. Rusy said, putting it in compliance with the town’s noise law.
Supervisor Sean Walter said the town met with LIPA officials earlier in the day Tuesday and learned that new regulations will allow the town to sell energy back to LIPA should the turbine go online. This, he said, would cut the projected cost to taxpayers in half, from 45 cents per $1,000 of assessed value to 25 cents per $1,000 in the first year, a number would amount to $12.50 for the first year.
By the seventh year, it would be turning a profit and wouldn’t cost taxpayers anything, Mr. Rusy said.
Several speakers praised the proposal, saying the town is leading the way in moving toward alternative energy sources.
Daniel Karpen, an engineer from Huntington, suggested the town build a wind turbine farm at EPCAL and use the energy it would generate to power the entire town.
FIELD WORK UNDERWAY
Two long planned recreation projects went out for bids Tuesday, and town officials are hoping the cost of the two projects comes in under $859,000, which is the amount the town has left in collected recreation fees.
The two projects are the construction of new soccer and multipurpose fields at Stotzky Park, where officials say the existing fields have been in bad shape for years due to overusage and lack of proper drainage, and the opening of a Route 25 entrance to the new ballfields built, but not yet opened, at the Enterprise Park at Calverton.
Councilman George Gabrielsen said he hopes to have both projects complete by April.
The Stotzky Park fields will be “done right,” with new drainage and an eight-foot high fence to limit usage of the field, he said. And the town finally got a permit for the new entrance point to the Calverton baseball and soccer fields from the state Department of Transportation. The work there will involve mostly striping, asphalt and the construction of about 130 parking stalls, Mr. Gabrielsen said.
The $859,000 in recreation fees comes from developers in the subdivision process. Previously, they were required to either provide recreational facilities on site, or pay into the townwide recreational fund at a rate of $5,000 per lot. The town is in the process of dropping that number to $3,000 per lot due to the down economy, the councilman said.
Mr. Gabrielsen said noted that the money being spent on the fields and infrastructure is not taxpayer money.
Mr. Walter the combined cost of the two projects must come under $859,000 because the town cannot bond any more money for the projects.
The Stotzky Park bids are due March 11 and the EPCAL bids are due March 18.
MANOR INN APPEAL COMING
The Town Board authorized the law firm of Smith, Finkelstein, Lundberg, Isler and Yakaboski to act as special counsel in the appeal of court ruling in the Jamesport Manor Inn case, which had previously gone against the town.
State Supreme Court Justic Peter Cohalan in December overturned a 2009 Riverhead Zoning Board of Appeals dismissal of the inn’s application for a catering facility. The court ruled that catering is a permitted accessory use to the property’s existing restaurant use.
The town had already filed a notice of appeal, but still had 60 days to perfect the appeal. Mr. Walter said previously that the town still could decide not to move forward with it.
On Tuesday, however, he said he learned that the town is obligated to defend the ZBA.
The vote to hire the lawfirm met with only three yes votes, as Councilwoman Jodi Giglio abstained, saying she believes catering is a permitted accessory use to restaurants. Councilman George Gabrielsen recused himself because he does business with Jamesport Manor Inn owner Matt Kar.
The Jamesport Manor Inn has scored a victory in state Supreme Court, where a Dec. 20 ruling has overturned a 2009 Riverhead Zoning Board of Appeals dismissal of the Inn’s application for a catering facility, and ruled that catering is a permitted accessory use to the property’s existing restaurant use.
“It’s obviously a judicious decision that restores the owners’ ability to derive a reasonable income on the property,” said John Ciarelli, the attorney for Jamesport Manor Inn owners Matt Kar and Frank McVeigh.
Kar-McVeigh LLC first proposed holding catered events at the Manor Lane property in 2004, while asking to replace an existing motel use with a catering use — and for a ZBA interpretation as to whether catering is a permitted accessory use to a restaurant. The ZBA permitted the catering facility at the time, but that ruling was challenged in a lawsuit filed by neighbors of the Inn who complained of loud noise coming from parties. The courts in 2007 upheld the 2004 ZBA ruling.
In 2008, Kar-McVeight submitted a site plan seeking a temporary tent for catering, but that was rejected by town planning director Rick Hanley, who said a special permit would be needed because the proposal was an expansion of the pre-existing, non-conforming restaurant use.
Kar-McVeigh later submitted a second site plan, seeking to have a permanent 4,072-square-foot barn built for catering, and Mr. Hanley rejected that proposal as well in January 2009. A month later, Kar-McVeigh filed two ZBA applications challenging Mr. Hanley’s decisions.
The ZBA held a hearing on the issue April 23, 2009, and that hearing was adjourned several times until Aug. 27, 2009, when Mr. Ciarelli’s request for an additional adjournment was denied, and the ZBA voted 3-1 to deny the application on the grounds that the applicant deliberately failed to post a hearing notice on the property in order to get another adjournment, a charge Mr. Ciarelli denied.
In his ruling, state Supreme Court Justice Peter Cohalan wrote, “this court finds that the proposed catering facility represents a permitted, incidental and customary accessory use to the permitted restaurant use and that a special permit is not required for such catering facility.”
Judge Cohalan said Mr. Hanley had failed to consider the 2007 court ruling, writing, “the failure of Hanley and the town planning board to abide by the prior court and ZBA decisions is unfair discrimination and oppression.”
The judge, in his ruling, directed the town to schedule a hearing on the site plan application within 20 days on the assumption that the catering/barn facility is a permitted accessory use.
Read more in the Jan. 6 edition of the News-Review.