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Bostwick's in the Hot Seat

Fri, 05/17/2019 - 00:41

An application from the owners of Bostwick’s Clambake and Catering Company in East Hampton, who are seeking permission to add storage structures to the Pantigo Road property, led to an examination of the current infractions of the zoning code at the site at a meeting of the town’s planning board on May 8.

Chris Eggert and Kevin Boles, the owners of Bostwick’s Chowder House restaurant, operate the catering business next door as a separate entity, said Madeline VenJohn, an attorney who represented the owners at the meeting. 

They want to construct a 400-square-foot storage shed on the property and add a nearly 65-square-foot walk-in refrigerator, plus two ice machines. An existing walk-in refrigerator would be placed in the shed. 

Other existing accessory structures, including a concrete walkway and a roof over a brick patio, would need to be legalized, as would the relocation of a Dumpster, according to a memo prepared by JoAnne Pahwul of the Planning Department.

The property is in a residential and limited business overlay district. The main building had been a real estate office until 1987, according to Ms. Pahwul, when the planning board at the time approved a proposal to convert it into a gourmet food retail store. 

The decision had been highly controversial among those who were concerned about the introduction of a retail store into a residential area. In response, the board required that a number of covenants and restrictions apply to the property to limit the potential effects of its use. 

The covenant, for example, required that a wooded area along the eastern property line remain in its natural state to serve as a buffer to neighboring properties. That area has since been cleared, according to the Planning Department.

Thirteen white pine and nine holly trees have also been removed from the proposed site for the shed and Dumpster. At present the company is using the area to park trailers that are used to transport food. 

The trailers, said Marguerite Wolffsohn, the planning director, are “very visible from Montauk Highway.” 

On the western side of the property along Maple Lane, there is a gravel parking area, which, Ms. Pahwul said in her memo, “does not appear to be consistent with the residential character” of the neighborhood and should be replaced with grass. 

The town code says that businesses in a limited business overlay district must adhere to certain appearance standards. Parking and all other accessory structures, it says, must be “well screened from public view and from the adjoining residences.” 

Ms. VenJohn said the owners would submit a landscaping plan to revegetate the buffer and the gravel area and provide more screening along Montauk Highway. 

Most of the trailers, she said, would be moved to an alternate location, and two parking spots would be added to the property, near the proposed shed, for those occasions when trailers would need to be loaded on site. 

As for the new structures, the board wondered whether the business had outgrown its location. “It’s like they’re trying to pack 10 pounds of rice into a 5-pound bag,” said Ed Krug, a board member. 

Kathy Cunningham asked Ms. VenJohn to review all the standards required of a business in a limited business overlay district because “I would say that this doesn’t meet any of those at present.” Furthermore, she said, “I would just urge you to put as much screening as you can to make that view from Maple Lane a little more tolerable.”

Samuel Kramer, the chairman, recommended adding a restriction to the property that would officially limit the number of trailers allowed there. 

Ms. VenJohn suggested the board make it a condition of approval of the proposed site plan.