The owners of the Hedges Inn have filed an appeal challenging East Hampton Village’s denial of their event permits.
Village officials denied six permit applications seeking approval for mass assemblage/tents outside the James Lane property about two months ago because they violated, in concept, a portion of the zoning code prohibiting outdoor dining for pre-existing non-conforming businesses in residential areas, as well as a 2006 court decision.
In an April 20 letter, attorney Christopher Kelley requested an appeal of that decision based on the village code and deferred to the Zoning Board of Appeals to call a hearing and render a decision.
He also requested the permit denials be held in abeyance until the ZBA makes its determination.
Kelley contends the village’s code clears the way for tented events to be held over 21 days in the Hedges’ neighborhood, and he noted officials have previously allowed the inn to hold outdoor parties by issuing permits for tents and special events subsequent to the ZBA and court decisions.
A Suffolk County Supreme Court decision in the case of Barbato v. Zoning Board of Appeals of the Town of Riverhead also recognizes the use of property for special events held outdoors as a customary accessory use for an inn, according to Kelley’s letter.
Kelley also contends the inn does not need variances to hold its events outside and a 2004 decision by the ZBA does not prohibit special events on occasions, catering, or tented events.
“The use as historically recognized by the village clearly allows for special events such as weddings, graduation parties, bar mitzvahs, etc. These are customary uses associated with an inn and restaurant and were not prohibited by the ZBA determination, although [Patricia Handal] asked that they be prohibited,” Kelley states, referencing the Hedges’ neighbor who opposes the outdoor parties.
“The ZBA’s refusal to grant that specifically requested relief speaks volumes. It would be truly ironic if every property on James Lane, including each residence, St. Luke’s Church, and Mulford Farm, could have 21 tented events each year on their property, but the one property, with a legal inn and restaurant could not,” Kelley added.
Village Administrator Becky Molinaro Hansen acknowledged the village received the appeal.
“Mr. Kelley requested that the appeal on the mass gathering permit denial be held in abeyance until such time the ZBA hears their appeal and renders a decision. Accordingly, the ZBA will schedule an appeal hearing, and after that is closed, the appeal on the mass gathering permits will he held,” Hansen stated in an email.