East Hampton Town’s chief building inspector, Tom Preiato, will determine soon whether a private club being run at the Montauk Beach House is an accessory to the hotel’s main business or is considered a separate use, which would trigger a full site plan review by the town planning board.
At the same time, the planning board has a hearing scheduled for Wednesday at 7 p.m. as part of more limited reviews of the hotel’s rebuilt bar and gift shop.
At an April 3 planning board meeting, board members asked the owners of the Beach House, Larry Siedlick and Chris Jones, to provide the board with a narrative of how they envisioned the bar and gift shop being used, which they did. In it, the two tried to allay concerns over the level of business that the bar could engender.
“If the bar use were to become too overbearing, the resort use would suffer, and patrons of the resort would not be satisfied,” they wrote.
In a memo dealing with both the bar and the gift shop, as well as the private club question, Kathryn N. Santiago, the board’s attorney, told the board that “an increase in volume alone does not create an expansion of use or an additional use,” referring specifically to the bar.
As a business that predates the town’s zoning code, with both a bar and a gift shop being allowed uses, she wrote, the effect of the business on parking in the area was not a topic for discussion by the board.
However, the board referred to Mr. Preiato the question of whether the private club advertised on the Beach House’s Web site constitutes a second use. If it does and a full site plan review would be required, the board would also have to look at its effect on surrounding parking.
“We are a resort hotel offering a membership program as a rewards program for our guests,” Mr. Jones said last week. “We’re doing what Gurney’s does, charging a resort fee.”
Mr. Jones said that such rewards programs are an industry standard, and cited the Starwood Hotel chain, which owns many hotels and motels, including the Westin and Sheraton hotels.
Mr. Jones said that he has developed a diverse group of hotels and resorts, and complained about the number of board reviews the Beach House has been put through. He and his partner have gone before the town’s zoning, planning, and architectural review boards multiple times in the past year.
“The Beach House is not a resort per definition by the Town of East Hampton,” Mr. Preiato said Monday. “It is a pre-existing motel, not a resort.”
He pointed out that if the Beach House offers discounted membership to local residents, who would have no need for a motel room, then it would appear to be running a second business. The Beach House advertises membership discounts for local residents.
“I can’t see another use going there without a full site plan review,” Mr. Preiato said.
Although Mr. Preiato has received the board’s request, he had not been formally asked to make a determination. Ms. Santiago said Tuesday that she was in the process of preparing just such a memo, and Mr. Preiato indicated that he would make one when the request is formalized.
Reed Jones, the board’s chairman, said yesterday that Wednesday’s hearing would be limited to the two site plan reviews currently being considered, for the bar and the retail shop.