The state court settlement between East Hampton Town and billionaire investor Marc Rowan over Duryea’s Dock promises an expedited site plan process for a restaurant on the site to replace the current Duryea’s Lobster Deck, which, traditionally, has been a casual takeout place with seating on the dock.
The town and Rowan are fulfilling that promise, with a new site plan scheduled to be presented to the East Hampton Town Planning Board nine days after charges over three zoning violations, as well as one charge relating to the alleged illegal discharge of sewage, against the ownership group of Duryea’s, which Rowan heads, were dropped in East Hampton Town Justice Court.
A site plan approval is needed for a restaurant to operate on the property, along with a special permit only the planning board can grant.
The planning board schedule for its March 6 meeting, starting at 6:30 PM, includes time allocated for the review of the Duryea’s application. JoAnne Pahwul, assistant planning director for the town, prepared a memo for the board regarding the new application. She specifically notes that the application before the board was submitted without a floor plan or a seating plan attached.
A new septic system, required by the stipulation between Duryea’s and the town, has been tentatively rated by the Suffolk County Department of Health as suitable for 16 indoor seats and 90 seats outdoors. That would be a far cry from the original plan submitted and then withdrawn by Rowan’s representatives in 2015, a year after he had purchased the property. That plan called for a restaurant with a total capacity of over 350 patrons at a time.
Pahwul writes that the parking calculations submitted to the planning board appear to be incorrect, and that “a number of the parking spaces are located in close proximity to wetlands and do not meet the minimum wetland setback of 100 feet,” meaning Duryea’s will have to go before the East Hampton Town Zoning Board of Appeals for variances from the town code.
She called upon the planning board to assume lead agency status under the state’s Environmental Quality Review Act.
Pahwul also writes that there are 11 slips called for in the application. While Pahwul does not speculate on who would use those slips, Fort Pond Bay has become a popular destination for mega-yachts during the summer season to drop anchor and spend a few days.
The settlement allows Duryea’s Lobster Deck to continue employing wait staff. On February 21, town board member Jeffrey Bragman had a prolonged exchange with the town’s lead attorney, Michael Sendlenski, over whether or not this constituted a restaurant, during a town board meeting.
The language in the agreement for the wait staff states that they are on hand “for those customers requiring assistance, or any other condition.” The stipulation allows Rowan to continue using wait staff, despite not having a permit for a restaurant, while he pursues a site plan and the needed special permit. It is not clear whether there is any sunset on this provision.
The extensive wine list, available online, for Duryea’s, caters not just to couples dining, but large groups, as well. Opening a wine bottle with a corkscrew may trigger the “any other condition” provision of the agreement.