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Apr 29, 2015 8:32 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Hampton Bays Citizens Group Targeting Another Illegally Converted Motel

Apr 29, 2015 10:21 AM

After leaning on Southampton Town officials to close one motel and block another from becoming an apartment complex, a Hampton Bays community organization has picked its next target: the Bel-Aire Cove Motel.

The Concerned Citizens of Hampton Bays, or CCHB, notified the town earlier this month that the Shinnecock Road motel is not being used for its intended use, but rather as an apartment complex.

During the group’s most recent meeting, held last Thursday night in the Hampton Bays Fire Department substation on Ponquogue Avenue, the association’s president, Mike Dunn, said Bel-Aire Cove is the latest hurdle in his group’s quest to rid the hamlet of illegal rentals.

Mr. Dunn said the facility is being used as year-round housing for several families, including five children who now attend the Hampton Bays School District.

“Back in March of 2014, at that location, there was enforcement action done on the property,” Mr. Dunn said to the crowd of roughly 70 people who attended last week’s meeting. “There were 10 counts of infestation, roaches and bed bugs, the tenants claimed they had to keep their contents in plastic bags to prevent further infestation.

“This is the package of violations against the property,” Mr. Dunn continued, holding up a stack of paper more than an inch thick. “Other things from March of 2014: litter and debris overflowing on to the property, no building permits for structures built on the property, no smoke detectors, no carbon monoxide detectors.”

A follow-up investigation by the town last October found extension cords being used as permanent wiring, improper exhaust flow for a clothes dryer, as well as other fire hazards and improper egress in terms of exit doors that were sealed shut with spray foam, Mr. Dunn said.

The group’s vice president, Robert Liner, a real estate lawyer with more than 40 years’ experience, said if the town did not take action to address the issue by mid-May, the group would take matters into its own hands.

Mr. Liner explained that, under town law, a group of three or more neighbors can take legal action against a property owner if he or she is violating the Town Code, if the neighbors report the violation to the town and no action is taken within 10 days.

“We have no choice,” he said. “If the town doesn’t do it and there’s a legal means for us to address the issue, we feel obligated to follow through with it. What are we supposed to do?”

Southampton Town Attorney Tiffany Scarlato said the owners of Bel-Aire Cove, Konstantine Polumentis and Jagganath Jayswal, who hold the property under a company called Bell Aire Cove Resorts, Inc., are currently facing various charges in Town Justice Court, including illegal change of use, overcrowding, renting without permits, improper electric and not having smoke or carbon monoxide detectors, with multiple counts of each violation.

Ms. Scarlato did not respond to an email asking where the owners live.

No fines have been assessed to the owners, Ms. Scarlato said, adding that the town, in some instances, prefers to keep property owners in court until they address all their code violations, rather than simply fining them and sending them on their way.

Mr. Liner said, depending on what specific action the town is taking in court, his group’s demands may have been satisfied, but he’s waiting on Ms. Scarlato’s office to communicate with the attorneys representing the civic group before making that determination. In essence, he’s looking for the town to address the root issue of the motel being used as an apartment complex.

“If they’re in Justice Court for a smoke detector violation, that’s good and healthy for the people [who live there], but doing nothing to address the real issue, which is misuse of the facility,” Mr. Liner said.

Entering its third year, the civic group also pressured the town to shut down the illegal rentals at the Hidden Cove Motel on West Tiana Road, first when it was being used as a homeless shelter and later when it was being utilized as an illegal apartment complex. Ultimately, the town purchased the bayside complex last fall for $2.3 million, using money from its Community Preservation Fund program. The town currently is seeking bids for the demolition of the two-story motel so the property can revert to open space.

Mr. Liner and Mr. Dunn also spent 17 months, and $34,000 in legal fees, to challenge the owners of the Tiana Pines Garden Apartments in front of the Town Zoning Board of Appeals. The owners of that property were seeking to have their code of occupancy changed to legally operate as an apartment complex.

Although the Zoning Board ultimately ruled against Tiana Pines, the owners are challenging that decision in State Supreme Court, meaning all action against the property is held in limbo until a decision is reached. The 16-room motel is owned by Domenico and Vincenza Iadevaia of Carle Place, according to town records.

“The Zoning Board, in taking [its] time, being very thorough, made a well-founded decision based on all the facts at the time, which, in my opinion, is neither arbitrary nor capricious,” Mr. Liner said. “So, I believe the ruling will stand.”

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Nothing will be done until code enforcement changes their hours. They need to be active when people come home from work. It is impossible to determine how many families live in a home of they are all at work.
By unjustifiedjustice2 (35), Hampton bays on Apr 29, 15 3:54 PM
It's funny because the cops are over in this spot pretty much daily... It needs to be shut down for sure
By bigblue84 (89), Hampton Bays on Apr 29, 15 7:35 PM
I agree that this is a problem but those tenants are living there for a reason. There is a lack of affordable, legal places to rent in the area. I don't see this group concerned about helping these tenants get into a better situation.
By Tellyourtale (5), Southampton on Apr 29, 15 9:43 PM
1 member liked this comment
If they can't afford the area then they can't live in the area. It's nobody's responsibility to help people afford to live somewhere but their own.
I would like to afford to live on the water in Quogue. Or Sagaponack. So either I make that happen or I live where I can afford. This affordable housing thing baffles me.
By jams (129), hampton bays on Apr 30, 15 8:31 PM
1 member liked this comment
"De pecuniae" segregation has about the same merit as "de facto" segregation.
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on May 1, 15 11:24 PM
Stop and shop is hiring. Work like everyone else has to. People don't want to work, that's why they can't afford to rent. Overcrowding is a serious issue, and it has to be stopped.
By unjustifiedjustice2 (35), Hampton bays on Apr 30, 15 6:53 AM
I'm curious as to how you believe that a job at Stop n Shop is going to pay rent that is averaging $2,000 or more a month for a decent, legal, place to live. That would be for a 1 bedroom place. Even if 2 people lived there and split the rent, there isn't much left for food, insurance, clothing etc. It's not just people who aren't working who cant afford the rents out here. It's people working 2 or 3 jobs and still can't afford it. And that's a shame.
By hbaysboomer (15), Hampton Bays on May 1, 15 3:48 PM
2 members liked this comment
Can't help people who do not do anything for themselves.. I do not believe it's fair I have to work 2 jobs pay taxes and these people can use the system for benefits and free schooling
By bigblue84 (89), Hampton Bays on Apr 30, 15 1:58 PM
Then protest companies who pay poverty wages.

A "living wage" in Suffolk county is no less than 28-30k per annum. That's just the basics, saving nothing, and struggling.
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on May 1, 15 11:17 PM
1 member liked this comment
Or you could protest failed immigration and economic policy that has driven the wages down with a flood of cheap labor, just for starters.

I wonder what oil related jobs are getting in the Dakota's? Hee heee heeeeee.
By Mr. Snerdley (397), Southampton on May 5, 15 7:08 PM
400+ ppm CO2.

That's what we're getting...
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on May 8, 15 10:43 PM
This is one of the results of open borders.
By bigfresh (4666), north sea on May 1, 15 6:55 AM
The real problem is the violations and summonses amount to nothing more than the cost of doing business. Code Enforcement comes, writes a few things down and off they go and nothing changes. How about this: Code Enforcement comes, a citation is issued and the premises has to be imediatly vacated. If the occupants have no place to go they can be put up by the town for up to sixty days with the costs plus a service fee assessed as a tax lien against the property. If the occupants are upset enough ...more
By bird (829), Southampton on May 1, 15 11:45 AM
When local idiots want to stand against projects like the Rechlers projects property values never rise. When values remain low you attract low income people, which causes housing problems. So in essence the few ignorant busy bodies ruin it for the whole community.
By chief1 (2800), southampton on May 1, 15 11:02 PM
1 member liked this comment
Southampton Town decided to close beach clubs, preserve them and killed Hampton Bays tourist industry. So now landlords have to rent their houses, and motels year round to pay their bills. Government has once again screwed up by getting involved. They better let these projects go yhrough in Hampton Bays or it will furthur plunge into the abyss.
By chief1 (2800), southampton on May 3, 15 10:08 AM
So your logic is that unless people are allowed to develop property any way they want regardless of zoning, the community is doomed to illegal use of existing properties. Using that logic we should just get rid of zoning, building inspectors and building codes. Hell, while we're at it let's just get rid of cops and laws also. Then the economy should really be booming!
By bird (829), Southampton on May 3, 15 4:10 PM
Being a little over dramatic aren't we bird?
Maybe you could explain how we can get deep pocket developers to risk their money if their is no incentive? With your logic we can make every town look like Mastic.
By chief1 (2800), southampton on May 4, 15 7:21 AM
This may come as a suprise to you chief but the building industry is booming. It's not actually needed to approve every PDD and variance to keep the building industry going. There is so much work companies are coming from Connecticut and New Jersey to work here. I'm not saying stop all construction, i'm saying build and use property within the zoning code. If you don't like the zoning code then have the discussion and work to have it changed. Unlike Queen Anna I don't endorse the conncept of turning ...more
By bird (829), Southampton on May 7, 15 7:55 AM
This might come as a surprise Bird, but we are talking about Hampton Bays. There is zero going on in Hampton Bays, and nothing good will happen until the waterfront is developed. Sometimes you have to give in zoning to get a lot. Do you think if their are no incentives someone would build in Flanders or Riverhead? Wake up
By chief1 (2800), southampton on May 8, 15 12:34 PM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By chief1 (2800), southampton on May 8, 15 12:35 PM