Brewing Company Wins Parking Fee Delay

The Montauk Brewing Company will get free use of public parking for three years, so as to fulfill a parking requirement for the business. After that, the town will allow them to pay a $45,000 fee over five years. Morgan McGivern

    A majority of the East Hampton Town Board voted Tuesday to allow the Montauk Brewing Company, which plans to add brewing equipment to its tasting room in Montauk, to use three public parking spots in a nearby lot to fulfill a town requirement to provide more parking.
    The brewery founders, three East Hampton High School graduates, had asked the board to waive the standard $15,000-per-spot fee imposed if downtown businesses cannot provide their own parking spots. The money goes into a fund earmarked for providing public parking. The board took up the topic again this week after tabling two resolutions proposing different solutions two weeks ago.
    On Tuesday, Councilwoman Theresa Quigley again proposed a licensing agreement giving the business free use of the town spots for three years. “If they’re successful, then they could pay something in the future,” she said.
    Supervisor Bill Wilkinson agreed, citing a desire to help a local business get off the ground. “Somebody talked about moving Jimmy Kimmel from L.A. to New York,” said the former Los Angeles resident. “That’s what this is — it’s an incentive. It’s no different than having an incubator.”
    “We keep talking about creating jobs; retaining our kids,” Mr. Wilkinson said.
    Councilwoman Sylvia Overby and Councilman Peter Van Scoyoc, though evincing a desire to assist the entrepreneurs, expressed some qualms. Mr. Van Scoyoc had proposed a deal allowing the business to amortize the $45,000 fee over a number of years, and on Tuesday repeated his reservations about changing the requirement prescribed in town law on the basis of a particular request.
    “Is the process going to be driven by an individual’s request, rather than taking a look at the bigger picture, and changing the process?” he asked.
    “We had a process, and that process was losing our youth,” Mr. Wilkinson retorted. “I don’t know if you’ve read about it. It was called the brain drain of Suffolk County.”
    “I think the idea that we’re not allowed to vary from the process is so antithetical to land use — not everybody fits into the mold,” Ms. Quigley said. “If somebody comes to me with a proposal, if it sits with me well, given the facts. . . . If somebody else makes a proposal that works, I’m going to say yes to them, too.”
    The fees-in-lieu-of-parking requirement is part of the site plan process, overseen by the planning board. That board and the zoning board of appeals deal with such matters, Ms. Overby said. “There is a process. And I’m not going to supplant my ideas,” she said.
    Ms. Quigley pushed forward with a resolution approving the free use of the spots for the three-year term, after which the agreement would be reassessed, she said. Mr. Wilkinson seconded it. Councilman Dominick Stanzione asked that the deal include, after the initial three free years, a payment schedule through which the business would pay the parking fees over a five-year term.
    “The amortization should include a waiver, should they create jobs,” Ms. Quigley said. “That would in essence constitute a payment, because they’re providing someone with a job.” She agreed, however, to include Mr. Stanzione’s idea.
    Ms. Overby asked that the resolution include a description of the special circumstances — namely, the proximity of public parking. That way, she said, numerous other downtown businesses will not assume that they would be eligible for a similar deal. She also asked that the resolution be put on paper before being brought to a vote. Both her requests were ignored, and she abstained from the vote.
    Mr. Van Scoyoc voted no — “because I believe it’s changing a process,” he said. “I think it’s a response to a specific application. It was cooked up on the spot. . . .” He said he did not disagree with making an exception for businesses near municipal parking. “But until that is done in a way that takes a comprehensive look at parking issues in Montauk, we have to stay the course,” he said, adding that he believed he had already offered a “good compromise.”