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Rowdy Hall Goes Black, Town Hits Back

Thu, 11/09/2023 - 15:52
Christopher Walsh

Two things happened at Rowdy Hall's new location in Amagansett on Wednesday. First, the façade was painted black, just weeks after the town's architectural review board had turned down a request to do so.  Second, after an anonymous phone call tipped off Kevin Cooper, the town's director of ordinance enforcement, the business was issued a stop-work order and a violation for not having a building permit. 

"They said it was primer. Doesn't matter," Mr. Cooper said by phone Thursday. "They got a ticket for no A.R.B. approval and another for having no building permit."

Reached by phone Wednesday, Mark Smith, an owner of Rowdy Hall, declined to comment, but indicated he wasn't seeking to pick a fight with the town. A member of the A.R.B. also wasn't interested in commenting on the record. What might seem to be a simple issue -- the color of the building -- has been emotionally charged with standing-room only crowds at A.R.B. meetings.

The restaurant needs A.R.B. approval before it can paint the outside of the building it is in both the commercial district and the Amagansett Historic District. However, Rowdy Hall has been at odds with the East Hampton Town Architectural Review Board since the end of the summer, when it first submitted an application to paint the façade of the building black, the color of the exterior at the restaurant's former East Hampton Village location for 25 years. Rowdy Hall has been in front of the A.R.B. three times so far. 

The A.R.B. ruled most recently, on Oct. 26, that black was not in keeping with the historic district standards and denied the application.

Two months ago, the A.R.B. had approved Rowdy Hall's sign, which could have been hung without an issue. However, once it altered the façade, a project for which it still had no approval, it was defying the A.R.B. 

Jon Tarbet, the lawyer for Rowdy Hall, said Thursday that the stop-work order does not mean the restaurant can't hang its sign in the meantime. 

"We can definitely hang the sign," he said. "We've been told that we can finish the trim too, because parts of the building are not protected. We're definitely not looking to do work that is in violation of the stop-work order and we're currently working with the town to find out exactly what that means."

"They can't do anything interior or exterior, except repairs. That's what a stop-work order is. If their refrigerator breaks, they can fix that," Mr. Cooper had said earlier in the day.

Rowdy Hall will have to go to court on Dec. 4 to answer for the tickets.

Mr. Tarbet said that the restaurant was waiting for the official determination from the A.R.B. regarding its Oct. 26 denial before filing an Article 78 appeal of the decision with the New York State Supreme Court in Riverhead.

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