Parking Scrutinized at Resort

A proposal from the Hero Beach Club in Montauk, whose owners are seeking a permit and site plan approval to convert one of three hotel-room buildings there into a 16-seat restaurant, raised questions about parking when it was discussed at the East Hampton Town Planning Board meeting on March 6.

  The town board recently enacted new parking requirements for resorts and motels. The code now says a resort must meet current parking requirements for its principal use (not including pre-existing nonconforming spaces). The board considers the restaurant an accessory use and creating it would necessitate an additional 50 percent of the parking otherwise required. The planning board has the authority to reduce the amount of parking if existing conditions prohibit it, or if the owner offers mitigation.

Before discussion of the application began, Tiffany Scarlato, a lawyer for the Hero Beach Club, which is owned by a group including Jon Krasner, who is also a principal in the Shagwong and Salt-box restaurants in Montauk, addressed the board. She asked that Louis Cortese recuse himself because he had previously expressed opposition to the proposal as a signatory on a letter from the Ditch Plains Association prior to serving on the board. Mr. Cortese complied.

 In a memo, Eric Schantz, a senior town planner, calculated that under the new code the resort would require 38 on-site parking spaces. It now has 16. The resort includes a pool and a more than 10,000-square-foot lawn. Mr. Schantz also noted that the board had previously discussed prohibiting food and beverage service on the lawn. The plan calls for service to be provided in just three places on the property: in the restaurant, on adjacent decks, and in an enclosed pool area. 

Britton Bistrian, a land use consultant for the Hero Beach Club, said the owners were still figuring out how to comply with the new parking requirements and would return to the board with a plan at a later date. 

“The sole purpose of this restaurant is to provide a food service amenity to our guests. We don’t want to become the new Montauk hot spot, and we don’t want to become a bar.” The restaurant would, however, include a small bar, she said. 

Ms. Bistrian said the owners would be open to a covenant that prohibits food and drink being served on the lawn and would agree to cap the maximum occupancy of the property at 225 people. 

As a gesture of good will, Ms. Bistrian said the owners would also replace the resort’s three conventional cesspools with a low-nitrogen septic system. The cost for that upgrade, she said, would be $100,000. 

Ian Calder-Piedmonte, a board member, said he had been in favor of the accessory use in the past but that the code changes had given him pause. “It makes sense that you provide beverages and food to your guests, but it’s tricky to find sufficient parking,” he said. 

Since the board has the authority to reduce parking requirements, Mr. Calder-Piedmonte said it would be in the owners’ interest to assure the board that “the accessory use was solely for the guests and no one else.”

To that end, Samuel Kramer, the planning board chairman, suggested the possibility of requiring customers to present a room key before being served.