Pending: More Mayhem

About a year and a half ago, Jay Schneiderman was able to convince East Hampton Town officials that a mothballed restaurant at his family’s Breakers Motel in Montauk was, in fact, operational and that in any event the clock had run out on a neighbor’s attempt to prevent its reopening. 

Mr. Schneiderman is now the town supervisor in South­ampton, after having held that post some time ago in East Hampton Town, as well as having served on the East Hampton Town Zoning Board of Appeals. He runs the Breakers on the side with the help of his sister, Helen Ficalora. This month, they welcomed a new tenant to the property, Seamore’s Restaurant, a Brooklyn concern, with fresh seafood and a healthy dollop of dock-to-dish hyperbole. Expect the foodie-hipster scene to pop up in earnest at this Old Montauk Highway spot soon if it hasn’t already.

Mr. Schneiderman is hardly alone in profiting from adding on to existing properties in Montauk. The new owners of the Oceanside Beach Resort motel, now the inexplicably named Hero Beach Club, are trying to tack on an outdoor lounge area with food and drink service, and they have colonized a section of the nearby public beach with umbrellas and trendy seating. The Montauk Beach House, formerly the Ronjo Motel, blew up some time ago into a kind of swimming pool club; now it wants to get bigger still, with a tent on an adjacent lot for weekend events. 

The Surf Lodge, on Fort Pond, long a problem spot, recently obtained approval for outdoor capacity of more than 400 guests. Over on Second House Road, Ruschmeyer’s has been a source of great frustration for neighbors. Loud music outdoors at Sole East just down the road can sometimes be heard for miles. Another people-magnet, the Sloppy Tuna, with bands on the patio and banners towed by airplanes promoting daylong drunk-fests, is technically a restaurant. And the Montauk Manor is in the process of trying to win permission for an outdoor venue capable of serving hundreds of people. It is no wonder that Montauk is, uh, a wee bit crowded these days.

The evidence is plentiful that East Hampton Town is under­equipped to deal with requests like these. In the Breakers example, a lawyer pointed out that the town code failed to adequately define the word “exist,” leading to uncertainty over whether an observation that food had not been served in its restaurant for years mattered at all. Similarly lacking, it appears, is the will to do anything about commercial establishments that grow into something bigger. Take, for another example, EMP Summerhouse less than a mile away from Town Hall, where outdoor seating appears to exceed the property’s capacity under earlier incarnations. Nor, too, has anyone in Town Hall been brave enough to publicly link traffic, drunken driving, litter, and other issues to all of this excess. We wonder what it will take for someone in power to just say, “Enough!”

As for Mr. Schneiderman, as a public official with long experience in two towns, the fact that he is willing to enrich himself by adding to the Montauk mayhem is regrettable. If anything, he should have been the one setting an example of restraint.