A Suffolk County judge’s ruling on Riverhead Town’s lawsuit against the owner of the Dimon Estate has granted the town’s motion to restrain owner Kar-McVeigh from exceeding established noise level limits but the town’s request for an injunction was “otherwise denied.”
The town filed the lawsuit in September 2021 in the wake of noise complaints from neighboring property owners in Jamesport, and had sought a temporary injunction preventing Kar-McVeigh from erecting or occupying tents on the property, previously home to the Jamesport Manor Inn, and having outdoor events or outdoor catering there.
The town has been in litigation with Kar-McVeigh since 2004 over the issues of catering, outdoor events and weddings at the restaurant.
The May 4 ruling from Suffolk Supreme Court Judge Joseph Santorelli prohibited using “sound reproduction devices” that produce amplified sound or music that exceeds the town’s noise limits. “I would say that the judge did not find that the town proved they were entitled to preliminary injunctive relief on the other branches of their motion,” said Linda Margolin, the attorney for Kar-McVeigh. “What my client has been trying to do for many years is to move forward on a plan to put up a building because a building effectively encloses sound. They’ve been trying to do that since 2009.”
The restaurant is located on Manor Lane on land that is zoned Agriculture Protection Zone.
The restaurant is not a permitted use there, but is allowed because it is a non-conforming, pre-existing use — meaning it pre-dates zoning.
The case has a lengthy history.
A 2004 decision by Riverhead’s Zoning Board of Appeals ruled that “catering is a type of restaurant use” and “unless specifically excluded, is a permitted use where a restaurant is permitted,” according to officials.
In 2008, Kar-McVeigh submitted a site plan application that included a “temporary tent” on the property. Later that year, the applicant submitted a site plan application with a “catering barn.”
Former town planning director Rich Hanley took the position at that time that these applications were expansions of non-conforming uses and, as such, required a special permit from the Town Board.
In 2013, a Suffolk Supreme Court judge sent the case back to the ZBA for a new hearing and a new determination, in which the ZBA ruled that a special permit was needed.
Judge Santorelli’s May 4 ruling also dismissed the case against Matt Kar individually (he is chief executive officer of Kar-McVeigh) and gave Kar-McVeigh until May 24 to respond to the judge’s ruling.
The judge also dismissed Kar-McVeigh’s complaint to dismiss the town’s lawsuit.
“Ultimately, I view the decision as favorable and as having achieved some level of relief in response the underlying violations,” Town attorney Erik Howard said. “Obviously, more expansive injunctive relief as to the use of the premises would be preferable, but with denial of Kar-McVeigh’s motion to dismiss our complaint and lawsuit, that ‘use’ issue can be more fully explored and litigated.”