It took a protracted discussion at its meeting on Monday, but the Sagaponack Village Board eventually approved a single gathering at a residence on Fairfield Pond Lane on Aug. 10. Beri Meric of Ivy Connect, which produces events that he said are intended for entrepreneurs, artists, and professionals, had asked the board to okay a weekend of members-only programs at the home of Michael Adler. He estimated that 50 to 80 people would attend each.
Outdoor gatherings with 50 or more people require permits under village law.
The board was asked to approve a sunset dinner on Friday, Aug. 9, an afternoon poolside discussion on Aug. 10, and a brunch on Aug. 11. He told the members of the board that the applicants had driven from the city to ensure compliance with village regulations.
Lisa Duryea-Thayer was the first member of the board to firmly state her “problem with the three-day event,” which, she said, “virtually creates a stoppage on Fairfield Pond Lane. We’ve never had a three-day event. . . . It doesn’t benefit our area at all.”
Mr. Meric said the gathering would involve discussions about philanthropy, art, and fashion. He promised no deals would be marketed, no music would be played outside, and there was “no intention to disturb anybody.” His company’s events are “all about conversations, not about partying. That’s our approach in Manhattan too,” he said.
It was noted that the event would not benefit a local charity, but Mr. Meric, calling the owner of the house a “supporter of our cause,” said Ivy Connect was connected with the Jefferson Awards, which provide large sums of money for public service.
According to Bloomberg.com, Ivy Connect has over 2,000 members that pay approximately $45 a month or $500 a year to attend events. Mr. Meric, a Harvard Business School graduate, had initiated a Web site called DateHarvard to “link single women with university men.” The site has since become IvyDate, and is said to have a five-figure number of members.
Among those opposed to the three-day gathering were Anthony Tohill, the village attorney. “This is mischief about to take place,” he said, adding that approval would change the use from residential to nonresidential.
Joy Sieger, a board member, asked the applicant why he didn’t choose a conference center such as Gurney’s Inn. He responded that guests would not be staying at the house, but would be shuttled back and forth from the train or their hotels, and any cars would be parked in a nearby field by valets. He said he would do “whatever is required to be sure there is no effect on the neighborhood.”
William Barbour, another member of the board, repeated himself. “I’m against it. I’m against it.” he said. Lee Foster, deputy mayor, agreed.
At this point, a compromise evolved. Only the Saturday poolside program will take place, from 1 to 7 p.m. Mr. Meric’s first option had been to scale all the events down to less than 50 people, but the board wasn’t convinced.
Mayor Louchheim asked the board to approve only the Saturday event with no on-street parking or outdoor entertainment. The board was divided, with no support from Mr. Barbour or Ms. Thayer.
Another get-together for over 50 people was approved at the meeting for the Tannenbaum residence on Daniel’s Lane with a solo no vote from Mr. Barbour. Lisa Tannenbaum, who was also at the meeting in connection with a bike lane proposal, said the occasion was a lecture by a climatologist who stays at her house every summer.