Cyril’s Keeps Trying, But . . .

Representatives of Cyril’s Fish House on Napeague were told they would have to return the restaurant to how it was in 1984 by the East Hampton Town Planning Board last week unless they came up with an acceptable new plan. T.E. McMorrow

A site plan submission from the owners of Cyril’s Fish House, who are trying to legalize numerous additions made to the property since 1984, received a frosty reception from the East Hampton Town Planning Board on Jan. 27.

Michael Dioguardi and his family, along with Cyril Fitzsimmons, have been locked in an ongoing legal battle with the town over the restaurant, which is in a residential zone. After a hearing in Riverhead before State Supreme Court Justice Joseph Farneti, they were told they must either operate the business as it was in December 1984, or work out their differences via the site plan process. Any changes or additions made after 1984 would have to be either legalized or removed.

The town has cited the restaurant for multiple structures that did not exist in 1984, including five truck trailers, a stockade fence, and a roadside bar.

“Can you give me a brief rationale as to why these structures should be legalized?” Reed Jones, the planning board’s chairman, asked Conrad Jordan, representing the popular roadside restaurant. “I’ve been on this board for seven years,” Mr. Jones continued. “This application is a frequent flyer. Why is this application so complicated?”

Mr. Jordan answered Mr. Jones’s question with two of his own. “Why not? What is it about these structures that are doing anybody any harm in any way?”

“They are illegal,” Kathleen Cunningham, a board member, answered. “They are an illegal use in this zone. They go against the town’s code.”

“So, there are certain technical obstacles,” Mr. Jordan suggested.

“It is not technical. It is a physical problem,” Ms. Cunningham retorted. She pressed Mr. Jordan to “give us the two-minute pitch as to why we should allow this, in its current configuration.”

Mr. Jordan addressed various topics as he spoke with the board. He said Cyril’s roadside bar would be replaced by patio seating. He said that because cars must slow down when they approach Cyril’s to avoid people walking on the shoulders, that made the road safer, not more dangerous, and that congestion on the road was a “one-night-a-week” problem.

“This came before us before, and it was the same song,” Nancy Keeshan said. “I drive there every night, five nights a week.” It takes her 10 to 15 minutes to navigate past Cyril’s during the season, she said.

Mr. Jordan said there were other sites that were far more dangerous, citing an evening when he took his children for dinner at the Surf Lodge. There, he said, people are forced to walk in the road to get around the parked cars.

Mr. Jordan referred at least twice during his presentation to a “trial,” apparently meaning the hearings before Justice Farneti, who warned in 2014 that should the case go to trial, “the likelihood of success favors the town.”

Speaking of the stockade fence, Mr. Jordan said it protected the nearby wetlands. “You’ve got too many people on that site, and the wastewater is a big issue,” Ms. Cunningham replied.

The next day, the board sent Mr. Jordan a letter stating, in part: “The board determined that applicant should remove all structures that do not have site plan approval, as it is not in the interest of good planning or consistent with the standards and purposes of site plan review to legalize the expansion of a non-conforming commercial use on the property.”

The restaurant’s New York State seasonal liquor license expired in October. During the 2014 summer season, the state rescinded the license, but later reinstated it to allow for an appeal. One reason given by the State Liquor Authority for the 2014 action was the restaurant’s failure to comply with the  code.

Whether Cyril’s has filed for a new license for 2016 could not be immediately determined.