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Mar 9, 2010 4:52 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press

Surf Lodge concerns aired before East Hampton Town Board

Mar 9, 2010 4:52 PM

Only issues relating to loud music were on the agenda at a hearing held Tuesday on the Montauk music club The Surf Lodge before the East Hampton Town Board, but residents who live near the establishment were equally worried about a myriad number of other issues that were not up for discussion.

The Surf Lodge received three noise violations last summer and town law requires that once an establishment reaches that threshold, the Town Board must hold a hearing as to whether or not to revoke their permit for outdoor music.

“This is about noise, not building code violation or sanitation issues,” said Town Supervisor Bill Wilkinson.

The owners of The Surf Lodge have hired Bonnie Schnitta of the East Hampton firm SoundSense to design a portable band shell out of flexible soundproofing material that they will place outside for their free concerts, which often draw hundreds of spectators on summer Sundays.

The hearing, which was a redo of a hearing that had not been properly noticed that took place in January, got off to a slow start, because Ms. Schnitta was not there to give a repeat of her presentation in January.

“This is the hearing. Last time, consider it dress rehearsal,” Town Board member Pete Hammerle told Surf Lodge representatives. “We’re sort of today having a hearing in a vacuum” without that testimony.

Surf Lodge attorney Colin Astarita asked that Ms. Schnitta’s earlier testimony be entered into the record of Tuesday’s hearing, but after residents who came expecting a presentation on the band shell complained that they could not comment on something they knew nothing about, Mr. Astarita called Ms. Schnitta and asked her to come to Town Hall. The Town Board entertained other business while waiting for her to appear.

Ms. Schnitta said that she had engineered the band shell in such a manner that it could dampen noise to ambient levels under a wide variety of circumstances.

Though members of the board seemed impressed with her testimony, some in the audience asked the board to hold off on a decision to not revoke the Surf Lodge’s outdoor music permit only if the club obtains all the necessary permits for the band shell either from the town building inspector, the Planning Board, or any other agency that may be required to review it.

Bob Stern, president of the Concerned Citizens of Montauk, asked the board to consider the fact that the music draws people to the Surf Lodge, making issues such as the overburdening of cesspools dependent on the music issue.

“I might not go to the bathroom there, but I like it,” he said. “If you’ve seen ‘Jaws,’ it’s not just a shark that can disturb a seaside town. Someone can go sailing in Fort Pond Bay and get fecal coliform disease. You have to have toilets for everybody.”

Richard Kahn of the Montauk Citizens Advisory Committee and CCOM said that he was also concerned that the deck on which the music is held was illegal.

“You cannot expand a nonconforming commercial use without a use variance,” he said. “You have seating on a 3,000-square-foot deck without site plan review and without a Natural Resources Special Permit.”

“That’s not relevant,” said Mr. Wilkinson.

“What is relevant is seating,” said Mr. Kahn. “In 45 years I’ve never seen such flagrant disregard for the rules. If you believe them, I hope you’ll share with me whatever it is you’re smoking. This is pretty flagrant stuff.”

“I trust the applicant when they say they want to do the right thing,” said Jeremy Samuelson of the Group for the East End and CCOM. “All of that may be true. What I don’t know is what that looks like. How big is the shell? Where is it on the property? What additional reviews may be necessary?”

The public hearing was closed and the members of the board agreed to issue a determination on whether the Surf Lodge can keep its music permit within 15 days.

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With a board approved time-line,They should be able to keep their permit as long as they are making strides toward the final solution. Mr. Samuelson has got it right when he asks, "What does it look like? How big is the shell? Where is it on the property? What additional reviews may be necessary?" and how long will it take to finish,IMA?
Nobody should have to endure any sound that nature did not create. As a rock Star, I never impose my loud music on anyone. I've performed at venues that are ...more
By Johnny Nova (83), Northampton on Mar 14, 10 7:37 PM
Mr.Kahn must not having been paying attention over the years---there have been many flagrant violations in MTK restaurants over the years. Leave these Surf Lodge guys alone. They took a low-income year round housing situation and turned it into a cleaned up three month operation. Where were CCOM andGroup for East End when they had 4-5 people in a room year round taxing the septic system? The parking there has been the same for years. Locals dont like them because they where nice clothes, have money, ...more
By earl (31), springs on Mar 15, 10 11:07 PM
If you are against the lodge then you are against summer business in Montauk. Business in Montauk keeps the people of Montauk in Montauk. The bottom line here is do you support the lodge and help 90 percent of Montauk by supporting business in Montauk, or do you not support the lodge therefore giving the CCOM zealots the ammunition they need to attack other businesses? Think about any crowded bar in Montauk on a Saturday night in the summer. Does anyone have enough toilet facilities to accomodates ...more
By hohum123 (91), springs on Mar 17, 10 7:54 PM