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Feb 6, 2013 12:57 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

New Plan Is Pitched To Increase Seating Capacity At Rumba In Hampton Bays

Feb 6, 2013 1:24 PM

The owners of the property on Canoe Place Road in Hampton Bays that houses Rumba, a popular Caribbean-themed restaurant, are looking to upgrade the building’s septic system, which would allow an increase in the number of seats allowed at the eatery.

The restaurant has been the source of contention in recent years for neighbors, who say its current septic system cannot handle the high volume of patrons who dine there, and for Southampton Town officials, who have threatened to bring the restaurant’s owner, David Hersh, to court if he continues to violate limits on his seating capacity.

Walter Hilbert, the principal public health engineer for the Suffolk County Office of Waste Management, said the owners of the property, Robert and Gail Arcate, are looking to double the gallons of wastewater flow that is permitted to be disposed of at the restaurant, which he is leasing to Mr. Hersh. Mr. Hilbert said Mr. Arcate is proposing to offset the proposed increase in wastewater flow at the Rumba site by placing development restrictions on a neighboring property on Canoe Place Road that Mr. Arcate owns along with his brother, Ronald Arcate.

Mr. Arcate’s proposal also includes plans to install a new septic system that would allow for the increased wastewater flow and, if approved by the Suffolk County Department of Health Services, would permit Mr. Hersh to add a maximum of 42 seats on the restaurant’s rear deck. The restaurant currently has Health Department approval for 21 seats inside, and no seating is permitting outside.

The offset, which requires approval from the Suffolk County Board of Review, will allow the restaurant to dispose of a maximum of 420 gallons of wastewater a day, double the 210 that is currently allowed. The Board of Review hears requests for variances and waivers to the county’s requirements for water and sewage disposal. In exchange, a portion of the neighboring property will be preserved as open space.

Mr. Arcate went before the board earlier this month to discuss his proposal, though Mr. Hilbert said it could be anywhere from four to six weeks before it issues a decision. If the board approves the offset, Mr. Hilbert said his office will then approve the new system and calculate the revised seating limit for Rumba based on the conditions set by the board.

Patricia Floria, the chair of the Board of Review, could not be reached for comment this week.

Irene Tully, who lives off Canoe Place Road near Rumba, said she would welcome the upgraded septic system, but still opposes any plan to expand the restaurant. She has raised concerns that the septic system is polluting the neighboring waterways and that the smell and noise from the frequent pump-outs degrade the quality of life in the neighborhood.

“We certainly are not objecting ever to cleaning up that septic, because it has been spoiled and they are pumping out every 48 hours,” she said, referring to the summer season when the restaurant is busy.

Robert Arcate is disputing charges that he and his tenant aren’t concerned about protecting local waterways. “We take it very seriously,” he said. “We consider ourselves to be stewards of the bay. When it came to my attention that the septic was overloaded—that’s when I began investigating what can be done to make the septic system handle the number of people that [Mr. Hersh] had in there.”

If the septic system upgrade receives county approval, Mr. Hersh will need to submit a new site plan, complete with the necessary number of parking spaces, to the Southampton Town Planning Board for review. The Town Board prohibited parking off Canoe Place Road in 2011 after neighbors complained that overflow from the Rumba parking lot caused safety issues.

Mr. Hersh was cited by the town on three separate occasions since the restaurant opened in 2011; the charges include operating the restaurant without site plan approval and, on four separate occasions, installing an exterior sign without the proper permit. Mr. Hersh is due back in Southampton Town Justice Court on March 22.

Southampton Town Attorney Kara Bak could not be immediately reached for comment regarding the status of the charges filed against Mr. Hersh.

David Gilmartin Jr., an attorney from the Bridgehampton firm Farrell Fritz, P.C., who is representing Mr. Hersh, said his client plans to plead not guilty to the violations, though he declined to comment further.

In August, Mr. Hersh submitted an application to the Southampton Town Zoning Board of Appeals. It seeks a variance that would waive the required number of parking spaces on-site for employees and appeal the restaurant’s 1992 Certificate of Occupancy. The application also seeks a determination on whether setback relief is needed for the construction of a roof over the restaurant’s deck without a building permit.

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