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Oct 9, 2018 7:23 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Proposed Parking Requirements Draw Broad Support From Montauk Residents

Larry Siedlick of the Beach House spoke against the proposed parking requirement.    KYRIL BROMLEY
Oct 9, 2018 7:23 AM

Residents of Montauk offered the East Hampton Town Board an outpouring of support for proposed legislation that would make it markedly more difficult for the hamlet's many hotels and motels to open new restaurants or bars within their existing businesses.

Most residents who spoke at a public hearing on the zoning amendments at Town Hall last Thursday night pleaded with the board to adopt the new regulations, which would require any hotel seeking to open a restaurant or bar to provide large amounts of parking on the property, to prevent the creation of new social scenes, especially in residential areas where motels were built decades before zoning laws were adopted.

The new law was of particular concern for residents of the neighborhood surrounding the Atlantic Terrace Motel, at the eastern fringe of Montauk's downtown area. The hotel was recently purchased by new owners and residents have organized in opposition to apparent plans to open a bar or restaurant in the 99-unit motel.

"I can't imagine the chaos following any expansion should this proposal fail," resident Pat Lucas said, adding that a shortage of parking at the Atlantic Terrace is already a problem and that cars clog local residential streets whenever a special event is held at the property already. "We support the business community, but it needs to respect us. Please keep Montauk from becoming the amusement park of the East End."

Other residents of the Surfside Estates neighborhood said that they already have to contend with noise from the nearby Sloppy Tuna bar and with intoxicated guests of Atlantic Terrace roaming through the neighborhood on their way back from downtown, and that the potential for a new social hot spot that would draw others would only make matters worse.

"The recent sale of the ATM, and its application for a liquor license, is my worst nightmare," Cheryl Richer said. "I think this resolution is a start, but we still need to go further, because it is not only about the parking. People walk to these establishments, people cab to these establishments, people shuttle to these establishments."

The proposed amendment to the town's zoning code would require that any hotel or motel in a resort zone—most of which are in Montauk—seeking to open an accessory restaurant or bar on its premises must provide enough off-street parking to meet current code requirements for all of its guest rooms, plus half the number that would be required for a stand-alone restaurant of the same size proposed for the resort.

Most of Montauk's hotels and motels were built decades before zoning and have few if any on-site parking spaces—leading to a deluge of parking issues at sites that have become popular social destinations like Surf Lodge and Sole East.

One hotel owner surmised that none could meet the current requirements.

"As currently written … I don't think there's a single property that could comply under this rule," said Larry Siedlick, an owner of Montauk Beach House, a downtown motel that has become popular as a daytime social scene, with crowds of customers who are not staying at the hotel coming to gather at poolside bars. The motel's downtown location, adjacent to a large open lot, has dampened complaints about the property, but its particular brand of offerings, and their popularity, have made it a cautionary example for those seeking to avoid problems elsewhere.

Mr. Siedlick said that a scene like the one at his motel is not necessarily the goal of other business owners looking to add food and drink service to their property.

"The expectation of today's vacationer is to stay at a hotel where they can have a glass of wine, where they can have a bite to eat," he said. "I'm concerned this legislation will make it impossible for any motel to add any modern amenity—be it a bar, be it a shop, be it spa services. I'm concerned if we don't make some reasonable accommodation, that this is dooming these properties to an outdated 1970s failing business model which basically results in the deterioration of these properties that then becomes a blight on our neighbors."

Those who supported the law, and those who drafted it, acknowledged the desire, or need, of resort owners to provide for their guests. But they reiterated that it is the draw of non-guests that raises the most concern.

"The original law on the books now is a failure," Michael Brosnan said. "It was drafted for the purpose of hotel owners to provide amenities only to their customers. The evidence is clear that the law is un-enforceable and we all know has been subject to widespread abuse. Once permitted and built, [accessory] bars and restaurants are open to all."

While Atlantic Terrace's future seemed to fuel most of the concern from residents of its neighborhood, the code amendments would seem to be spurred by the application of Hero Beach, which has been wrestling with the town for two years over its desire to provide food and beverage service for its guests.

The posh boutique motel at the western end of the downtown area has filed an application with the town requesting permission to open a 16-seat restaurant within its existing lobby area. But planners have worried that the hotel's pool decks and broad outdoor lawn area could lead to any liquor service exploding into a large social scene. The hotel has claimed the food and drink service was intended to be only for its guests, but has not pledged to make the restaurant off-limits to the general public, and its application for a liquor license referenced possible concerts at the property and up to 499 patrons.

The proposed zoning amendment does include an allowance for the Town Planning Board to make exceptions from the new parking requirements at its discretion, if a hotel owner can demonstrate, or provide sufficient guarantees, that the hotel or bar is to be used only by its overnight guests and is not soliciting business from the general public.

Nobody spoke at the hearing on behalf of either Hero Beach or the Atlantic Terrace. Hero Beach already has a lawsuit pending against the town over 2017 legislation that banned take-out food stands within resort motels, which the motel's representatives said was crafted specifically to block their original plans to provide food and drink to their patrons.

Atlantic Terrace was purchased this past summer by Bridgeton Holdings, a real estate development and management company. The new owners filed a notice with the town of their intention to file for a liquor license from the New York State Liquor Authority.

Several residents who spoke at Thursday's hearing referenced Hero Beach owning the Atlantic Terrace, but Hero Beach's principal owner, Jon Krasner, has denied that Bridgeton Holdings or any of its principals is an owner of Hero Beach. The company was hired to manage the resort motel when it opened in 2016 but is no longer affiliated with Hero Beach, he said in an email. The company still lists Hero Beach as among its portfolio of properties on its website.

A spokesperson for Bridgeton said in an email that the company has not filed a liquor license for the Atlantic Terrace property, because the new owners are still evaluating what they plan to do at the property.

Board members allowed input on the new parking requirement proposal to continue until November 1, so that the Planning Board could weigh in officially and so the town's Business Advisory Committee could discuss the issue at its next meeting and offer its own suggestions.

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How to destroy an industry in 4 easy steps! Make it so that it's too expensive to operate, have the business go under, lose a few hundred jobs, and then complain about how there is no jobs in the Hamptons!
By TrueHamptons (33), Sag Harbor on Oct 9, 18 11:12 PM
How to destroy your home town and quality of life in 4 easy steps:
1. Relax or eliminate zoning ordinances
2. Encourage dirtbag operators from NYC to come in and take quiet businesses and turn them into noisy clubs attracting slimy patrons to destroy your peaceful summer enjoyment
3. Celebrate all the transient bar jobs that end at Labor Day with employees sleeping in their cars or packed 20 in a house
4. Watch the dirtbag operators stuff their pockets with catch and laugh as they ...more
By aging hipster (201), Southampton on Oct 10, 18 9:03 AM
1 member liked this comment
"This depends on what you consider to be quality of LIFE."

Exactly correct--we're in complete agreement!

I won't go down to Ft. Lauderdale or Seaside Heights and tell them to shut down their nightlife.

If that's your "quality of LIFE--go there. Don't bring it here!
By aging hipster (201), Southampton on Oct 10, 18 9:50 AM
Montauk is NOT the Hamptons! take your Mai Tai's and hamptons BS back to the city!!!!!
By mtkfishman (76), montauk on Oct 15, 18 8:13 AM