Final Hurdle for Surf Lodge

The Surf Lodge on Fort Pond, Montauk. Doug Kuntz

Site plans with histories of some controversy will be considered by the East Hampton Town Planning Board at a hearing scheduled for Wednesday evening at 7. 

One of the site plans represents the final hurdle in a saga of negotiations that has played out between the town and the owners of the Surf Lodge on Fort Pond, Montauk, over the course of several years. 

The town and the ownership group got off to a rough start when the now iconic nightspot on Edgemere Street first opened for business in 2008. At one point, the ownership group paid a $100,000 fine to settle more than 500 citations from the town’s Code Enforcement Department. However, after Michael Walrath, a venture capitalist who owns several Montauk properties, joined the partnership with Jayma Cardoso, impresario of the popular party and concert venue, the group’s attorney, Andy Hammer, began prolonged negotiations with Michael Sendlenski, the town’s chief attorney, to bring the business and its many structures into compliance with the town code. 

Compliance was sought in different ways: Some offending structures would be modified or removed; for others, variances from the zoning board of appeals would be sought. Many of the variances were for setbacks from Fort Pond. At one point, Mr. Hammer described the property — which was developed before zoning — as “in Fort Pond.” Variances were obtained for most of the structures, but the zoning board denied others for three structures on the northeastern part of the nearly one-acre property: a fire pit, a movie screen, and a flagpole. 

Eventually, in 2017 — following an exhaustive examination of the property by the town’s fire marshals and its Planning and Building Departments — the town attorney’s office signed an agreement with the ownership group, Montauk Properties, a limited liability company. Caps were placed on the number of  people who would be allowed on the property (395, with another 50 allowed in a queuing area); live music would be restricted to five days a week, with no outdoor music permitted after 8 p.m., and a modern septic system, to protect Fort Pond, would replace the old one. 

With the zoning process over, the ball was thrown back to the planning board. On Wednesday at Town Hall, the public will have the chance to chime in on the final site plan that has resulted from this epic real estate saga.

Meanwhile, a neighbor is displeased with a site plan submitted by the Peconic Land Trust, which has asked the planning board to approve an existing 5,888-square-foot barn on farmland off Town Lane and Abraham’s Path in Amagansett. The land trust wants to house agricultural equipment, used by farmers who lease land from the trust, in the barn.

The owner of a residence that abuts the farmland, Fouad Chartouni, a real estate investor and developer, has sued the Suffolk County Farmland Committee, which approved construction of the barn. The planning board was instructed by its attorney, John Jilnicki, that it could go forward with Wednesday’s hearing despite the litigation.

The site plan applications and all the attendant paperwork for these and other public hearings are available for inspection at the town planning board’s office at 159 Pantigo Road during normal business hours.