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May 20, 2009 1:35 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Fight continues over Inn at Quogue property

May 20, 2009 1:35 PM

What had been viewed as a compromise between the Quogue Village Board and a Westhampton Beach developer, allowing him to build four homes on the Inn at Quogue property in exchange for preserving and renovating a historic home also on the site, has instead sparked further debate from neighbors who say the revised plan would harm their quality of life.

The property in question, which was purchased by developer Rocco Lettieri two years ago, has been a contentious issue for Quogue residents, many of whom want to see the historic building, known as the Weathervane, preserved without adding too much density to the village.

The latest plan submitted by Mr. Lettieri calls for a code change that would allow him to build four single-family homes on the 2.5-acre property in exchange for renovating the Weathervane, the historic Jessup family homestead. The application would yield a total of five houses.

Under current zoning, Mr. Lettieri, who unsuccessfully sued the village for blocking his plans to build on the land in 2007, can legally raze the 170-year-old building, which does not have landmark status, and build four homes.

A public hearing on the latest plan was held during Friday afternoon’s Village Board meeting, and several Quogue residents voiced their opinions on the proposal. A final decision on the latest revision is not expected for several weeks.

Allen Adler, who owns the property directly to the east of the Inn at Quogue, and his attorney Stephen Latham approached the Village Board during the hearing to deliver a list of demands associated with any future development of Mr. Lettieri’s property. Among the demands were a mandatory 40-foot setback on the subdivided properties, the installation of landscaping to serve as buffers, and a clause prohibiting the construction of a new home in the Weathervane’s place if it were ever demolished.

“I would like some justice,” Mr. Adler said.

Mario Mangieri, a doctor who owns property on Lamb Avenue in the village, added that he shared Mr. Adler’s opinion of the need for a 40-foot buffer. “I would like some privacy,” said Mr. Mangieri, whose property also borders the Inn at Quogue.

Quogue Village Mayor George Motz explained that the trustees could not place such restrictions on the property until after reviewing a site plan. The revised application has not yet been filed with the village.

Mr. Lettieri countered that those suggested limitations would make the proposed subdivision visually unappealing. “A 40-foot setback would have an adverse effect,” he said.

Mr. Adler, meanwhile, maintained that a five-lot subdivision without such setbacks would harm his quality of life and reduce the value of his home. Mr. Motz and Mr. Adler argued over the matter for several minutes until the mayor explained that he and the board would not make a final decision on the matter for several weeks.

Before taking his seat again, Mr. Adler said the mayor had done nothing to protect his rights as a property owner.

“I really take personal offense,” Mr. Motz countered, referring to Mr. Adler’s parting comment. “That’s nonsense.”

Mr. Motz reiterated his stance that the latest plan was a compromise based on Mr. Lettieri’s original proposals, all of which were criticized as being too dense for the village. The mayor also explained that the board would work to protect Mr. Adler’s rights, though it could not place any restrictions on the property at this time.

Mr. Lettieri’s most recent plan called for a total of six homes, one of which would have been the renovated Weathervane. Even though he had promised to protect and renovate the home, several residents—including those who are demanding that Mr. Lettieri preserve the structure—insisted at the time that six homes were too many for the site.

Mr. Lettieri’s original plan for the property called for the construction of 11 condominiums and renovating the Weathervane. That proposal was heavily criticized by both village officials and residents. Mr. Lettieri then submitted a plan to raze the Weathervane and build a 26,000-square-foot office complex that would not require a change of zoning. However, the Quogue Planning Board later ruled that the developer would have to pay for a lengthy environmental review before advancing those plans.

In other news, the Village Board unanimously voted to designate Quogue Street and a portion of Beach Lane as heritage areas. The honorary title places no restrictions on properties within the area, unlike a historic district, and is intended to draw intention to Quogue’s historical significance.

“The road reflects the growth of our community,” said Melissa Cook, who was advocating on behalf of the Quogue Historical Society, “from its beginnings as an Indian trail ... to the beautiful residential road it is today.”

Similar historic areas have already been established in other hamlets of Southampton Town, such as Eastport, Water Mill and Quiogue.

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Lettieri: we don't like your kind around here. We are happy you won't be living in one of these proposed junk houses yourself, but we won't like your underlings either. Do you or your junkie underings care? probably not. Its only money to you. Like I said, we don't like your type around these parts. We want to be tolerant, but you have gone too far.
By deKooning (106), southampton on May 21, 09 2:00 PM
DeKooning : Just wondering what you mean about " your kind around here " ?
Just what is his " kind " ? Please elaborate .
By PrivateerMatt (390), Weesuck Creek , EQ on May 22, 09 7:09 PM
My interpretation of the news story is that Lettieri is an outsider who has little regard for the welfare of Quogue. His motives in Quogue are driven by greed. I don't like it. His kind is greedy.

If you have information to the contrary, please share it here.
By deKooning (106), southampton on May 26, 09 10:19 AM
You sure it's "interpretation" there deKooning? These are the exact comments that led to Lettieris lawsuit - which was dismissed. Are you anti- Italian too deKooning? You sound just like a Quogue resident............

The reference he "we" made to "junkie underlings" is in reference to Roccos relative who was arrested for DWI/DUI a couple months ago.

It's nice to see comments like this - with Quogues 350th looming - it is obvious that little has changed in the Village. My guess ...more
By G (342), Southampton on May 26, 09 2:00 PM