Is Yoga Okay at Marinas?

Paddleboard business comes under scrutiny

Gina Bradley, who owns Paddle Diva, which offers lessons in the recreational use of paddleboards, has a retail shop, and teaches yoga, has appealed to the East Hampton Town Zoning Board of Appeals to reverse a decision by the town’s head building inspector in March that her operation at the Shagwong Marina on Three Mile Harbor constitutes an illegal expansion of its use.

The Shagwong Marina, which rents 66 boat slips, is owned by Ben Kru­pinksi, who is also an owner of East Hampton Point, just down the road.

On Tuesday, when the zoning board took up Ms. Bradley’s Paddle Diva appeal, Z.B.A. members found themselves delving inconclusively into matters such as whether a paddleboard is a boat, and, if so, whether they can be stored at marinas legally, and whether a retail store at which they are sold was comparable to a marina’s supply store.

That answers to these questions differed was clear when John Whelan, the chairman of the zoning board, and Richard Whalen, an attorney representing Ms. Bradley, spoke. The discussion led to comment about Paddle Diva’s website, which announces yoga as one of the classes at the marina.

“As you know, we turned down yoga at the Surf Lodge,” Mr. Whelan said. “I am not saying she has the right to conduct yoga activities on this property,” Ms. Bradley’s attorney responded, adding that he was only concerned with whether paddleboards were boats.

Yoga instruction at the Surf Lodge is among proliferating recreational classes townwide that have drawn attention in recent summers, especially when they are offered on public property such as the beach at Montauk’s Ditch Plain, where surfing lessons are prevalent.

Before the hearing was over, Ms. Bradley said, “I will go home tonight and remove yoga. I am laughing that we are talking about this. What better place to have paddleboarding?”

On behalf of Ms. Bradley, Mr. Whalen described the sequence of events that led to the appeal. Paddle Diva had begun running classes, storing paddleboards, and eventually converting an office in a small building into a retail store in 2012.

Last year, Mr. Whalen reminded the board, the town issued a notice of violation for that conversion, and Ms. Bradley applied to the planning board retroactively for a permit to allow it. The planners turned to the building inspector for an interpretation of Paddle Diva’s use, which lead to the negative conclusion. In Mr. Whalen’s opinion, however, a paddleboard should be considered a boat for legal purposes.

Mr. Whelan, the zoning board chairman, and Mr. Whalen then discussed whether a recreational marina is allowed to host a paddleboard school. Mr. Whalen said they were comparable to boating classes, which would be legal at a marina, and argued that since paddleboards are not specifically excluded under the code, they are an allowed use.

The board also discussed parking and sanitary facilities, and it was pointed out that calculations had been based on the number of slips at the marina before Paddle Diva set up shop.

Roy Dalene read a letter from a neighbor opposing a reversal of Ms. Glennon’s determination. He suggested the boards were being stored at the marina since they are removed from the water every day, although under the town code, boats can be stored at boat yards, but not marinas.

Rose Grau, who had previously owned the marina and still owns two adjacent parcels, spoke to the board, saying Paddle Diva advertises activities beyond paddleboarding.

“She has erected a 20-foot flagpole and offers soft drinks,” she said. She told the board that six vans had parked on her property one day and when the drivers were asked to remove them, they said they were there for a photo shoot involving Paddle Diva.

“She still uses our entrance to the beach,” Ms. Grau said. On a softer note, Ms. Grau said inexperienced paddleboarders at the entrance to the marina from the harbor were “a hazard and a safety concern for our paddleboarders and our sailors.” She called the Paddle Diva operation “a violation of the integrity and character of the neighborhood.”

“I don’t want to become the behemoth paddleboard business of the East,” Ms. Bradley said before the hearing was closed. The board has 62 days to reach a decision. Cate Rogers, a member of the Z.B.A., recused herself from taking part in its deliberations.