The battle over Cyril’s Fish House, a popular summer bar and restaurant on Napeague, is over as far as its 2014 season goes, but the larger question of whether businesses can be operated in areas zoned for residential use if they have expanded their use, as East Hampton Town alleges Cyril’s has, remains up in the air.
The testimony phase of a hearing on whether to grant the town an injunction, pending trial in the lawsuit the town brought against Cyril’s owners came to an end on July 15 in State Supreme Court. Justice Joseph Farneti gave each side until Aug. 22 to file briefs and until Aug. 29, three days before Labor Day, to respond to them. If, as Joseph Prokop, the attorney for the town, said last April, “With these defendants, the goal every day is just get to the next day,” Conrad Jordan and Dianne Le Verrier of the law firm representing the owners, have accomplished just that.
No matter which way Justice Farneti rules on an injunction, the season will be largely over when his decision is issued. That makes it is more likely than ever that the case will go to a full trial, with the three weeks the two sides spent sparring at the hearing likely to serve as practice session for the real battle.
The town seeks to force Cyril’s to remove structures and operate as it existed in 1984. If the town had obtained an injunction earlier, Cyril’s would have had to demolish parts of the structure, or shut down in the middle of the season. Mr. Prokop tried to establish during the hearing, which stretched over three weeks, that the roadside bar, just south of the main building, did not exist in 1984 and that the restaurant had expanded by constructing the bar and other additions.
At the session on July 7, Mr. Prokop was able to introduce an aerial photograph that appears to substantiate the town’s claim of expansion. However, Mr. Jordan made the argument the photograph was deceptive in that it was taken from an oblique angle, and he introduced Xeroxed images of three other photographs, from the town fire marshal’s archives, which he claimed proved otherwise. Mr. Jordan had received them by subpoena, along with some 20 other documents, which he put into evidence. Also put on the stand on behalf of the town by Mr. Prokop was William Walsh, who surveyed the property in 1984 when the business was known as Skipper’s Gallery, and again in 1990, after it had become Cyril Fitzsimons’s operation. Mr. Jordan did not call any witnesses.