Fire Marshal Finds 61 Fire Code Violations at East Hampton Motel

T.E. McMorrow

An East Hampton Town fire marshal’s office investigation into a complaint last summer of overcrowding at the Inn at East Hampton uncovered 61 violations related to New York State Fire Prevention and Building Code, but concluded that “the original complaint of overcrowding at the 20-unit motel was unfounded,” according to a release sent out by the office Friday afternoon.

A representative from East Hampton Town Ordinance Enforcement Department said earlier this spring that it had received a call last July about overcrowding.

While that was not an issue, the 61 violations include missing or inoperable smoke detectors, missing carbon monoxide detectors, electrical junction boxes with exposed wires, extension cords in lieu of permanent wiring, combustible debris, such as old mattresses and cardboard boxes in the basement, and exterior lights suspended by live electrical wires in all second-story units.

Such violations created “serious life-safety hazards and fire hazards, all in violation of the code,” according to the fire marshal’s office. “Our first and foremost priority is the safety of the tenants and ensuring the swift remediation of these hazardous conditions,” David Browne, the chief fire marshal, said in the release.

“I welcomed the fire marshal with open arms and voluntarily gave access to all of our rooms as well as the entire property,” Jason Gutterman, who took over as manager of the inn last fall, said in an email Saturday. “It is my goal to correct every violation on the report as quickly as possible and bring the entire property into compliance.”

The two-story yellow and white building on Montauk Highway was formerly the 27 Inn and prior to that the Dutch Motel. Its rooms are now rented on a long-term basis to local workers, several with young children who attend East Hampton Schools.

When Ordinance Enforcement received the complaint last July, the motel was housing a group of Jamaican students working summer jobs. But late last year, following serious damage to many of the motel rooms, the Inn at East Hampton changed its business model and began renting to year-round residents, its manager, Mr. Gutterman, told The Star in an interview earlier this year.

“The previous managers were aware of many of the existing violations, however they failed to notify the owners of the property, and for that reason, no action was taken at that time,” Mr. Gutterman wrote. “We have made great efforts to bring the property up to code in recent months and have already fixed many of the violations we received.” The recent inspection by the fire marshal was the first of the inn since he took over as manager, he said.

The unfurnished rooms rent for between $1,300 and $1,500 a month.

According to the Town of East Hampton’s tax assessor, Alex Demetriades purchased the property in February of 2004. He signed two deeds on the same day -- one for $2 million and the other for $300,000. Purchased under Hamptons Land Corporation c/o World Properties, Mr. Demetriades, the corporation’s C.E.O., receives his tax bills in Floral Park, N.Y.

Hamptons Land Corporation is due in East Hampton Justice Court on July 11 to respond to the violations. In the meantime, the onsite manager of the property, has been notified and “is expected to begin repairs immediately,” the fire marshal’s office said.

“It is our goal to complete the remaining work as quickly as possible in order to continue to provide a safe and wholesome environment for the families that live with us,” Mr. Gutterman wrote on Saturday. “It is the owners intention to comply and they have agreed to work with me to that end.”