According to some neighbors of a popular East Hampton restaurant, the East Hampton Town Planning Board has more work to do before it approves a new roof for the business.
Paul Fiondella, who lives on Maple Lane near Bostwick’s Chowder House said at the board’s meeting on April 6 that a “threshold legal issue” has to be dealt with before the restaurant owners obtain approval. If it is not, he promised further litigation, calling the plan an outrage.
He alleges that the owners may have voluntarily “abandoned” a pre-existing, non-conforming fast food restaurant and replaced it with a restaurant. Mr. Fiondella said that night that a restaurant use like the one operating from the building now is not permitted in the limited business overlay district it is in.
The Bostwick’s property, once home to A & B Snowflake, has been the subject of litigation for several years, with the court dismissing on a technicality Mr. Fiondella’s claim that a building permit and a certificate of occupancy had been issued erroneously due to abandonment of the pre-existing fast food use.
According to court records, Justice Jeffrey Arlen Spinner at the State Supreme Court in Riverhead said that Mr. Fiondella failed to name the property owners in the suit and named only the East Hampton Town Zoning Board of Appeals, whose earlier ruling he was asking the court to overturn.
Jon Tarbet, who represents Christopher Eggers and Kevin Boles, the owners of the restaurant, called Mr. Fiondella’s presentation to the board “an attempt to sandbag us tonight.”
Mr. Eggers and Mr. Boles are seeking planning board approval for a new, permanent roof to replace an awning that Mr. Tarbet said makes the business hot and uncomfortable in the summer. He denied that the roof will allow for an expansion of business.
Reading from the town code, Mr. Fiondella said a fast food use consists of ordering prepared food over a counter. Food is not brought to your table at a fast food establishment, he said. A restaurant, he said, allows for table service and the accessory sale of alcohol, which he said describes Bostwick’s more appropriately.
The Building Department, Mr. Tarbet said, has had “ample opportunity” to review the Bostwick’s permit history and has found nothing of question. As for Mr. Fiondella’s claim that Bostwick’s is a restaurant with table service, Mr. Tarbet said, “we would like to be a restaurant, but it’s not allowed.” He said there is no table service on the premises.
Charla Bikman, Mr. Fiondella’s wife, said otherwise. “I have frequently observed waitress service,” she said, adding that she believed the owners advertise the place as a restaurant. “But the board can conduct its own investigation,” she concluded.
Another neighbor, Eugene Waldstein, described his own experience eating at Bostwick’s: A customer is asked to write down an order and pass it over the counter, then find a seat and wait for a server to deliver the food. Adding that he understands the owners’ desire to operate a successful business, Mr. Waldstein said he is more concerned about parking on Maple Lane.
When the Bostwick’s parking lot is filled to capacity “it’s absolutely scary,” he told the board.
Phyllis Madan, who also lives on Maple Lane, said an ongoing problem with parking could impede an emergency vehicle trying to make its way down her street. Mr. Fiondella said Bostwick’s does not have enough of its own parking to accommodate its customers.
Despite the neighbors’ many complaints, Mr. Tarbet pointed out that none of them complained about the application for the new roof itself.
“Let’s be consistent, otherwise we don’t have a planning code worth a dime,” Mr. Fiondella begged the board.
A member of the Amagansett Citizens Advisory Committee asked that the record be left open and after two votes, the planning board decided to keep the record open for two weeks for written comments.