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Tired of Playing Nice, Town Removes Montauk Walkway

Thu, 06/20/2024 - 07:30

Fed up, it gets court  order, rips out walkway

A walkway extended from the house over an easement area at Montauk’s downtown beach, where there is meant to be only vegetation, above left, so the town got a court order and removed it, above right.
East Hampton Town

Last week, in a rare case of the Town of East Hampton removing an illegally built accessory structure, it took out a wooden walkway that connected a house at 88 South Emerson Avenue in Montauk to the beach.

To do so required a resolution authorizing the “office of the town attorney to use all appropriate methods to ensure the removal of any illegal structures within the easement area.” In the end, the “appropriate method” was getting an order from the Suffolk County Supreme Court.

The town had issued multiple notifications to the property owner, Myfour Realty, a limited liability company controlled by Roy Tuccillo Sr., but they had been ignored.

“We have made every effort to work with the property owner to resolve this matter amicably,” Town Supervisor Kathee Burke-Gonzalez said in a statement. “However, the integrity of our dunes is critical to our community’s safety and environmental health. We will not hesitate to enforce our laws to ensure the well-being of our residents and the protection of our coastline.”

As part of the Fire Island to Montauk Point beach replenishment project, the federal Army Corps of Engineers provided a walking path to each beachfront residence over a dune they created. Mr. Tuccillo had put his walkway over that path. “They made a path for him,” said Kevin Cooper, the town’s director of code enforcement. “He disregarded it and did his own thing.”

According to Mr. Cooper, the walkway was built without a permit and crossed over what is called the perpetual storm damage reduction easement area, which had been newly seeded with beach grass meant to help prevent erosion. The easement was created as part of the beach replenishment project and is under the control of the town, county, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, and the Army Corps. Only those entities can add or remove sand or structures over the dune.

“In the three years I’ve been out here, we’ve never demolished a structure. That’s uncommon. Usually, we get compliance at some point,” said Mr. Cooper. Turns out, it was not the first time Mr. Tuccillo has ignored the town. The Star obtained copies of enforcement actions against the address and found that in February 2022, Mr. Tuccillo was caught building retaining walls, a first story addition, a second story addition, and a second story deck on the house with no building permit. The town slapped a stop-work order on the project. The following month, on three separate occasions, Mr. Tuccillo was at the site overseeing workers in violation of the stop-work order and was ticketed. One time, he refused to identify himself and denied he was the owner of the property. Town enforcement was forced to call the police, who compelled Mr. Tuccillo to identify himself. They were then able to ascertain that he was indeed the owner.

According to Mr. Cooper, Mr. Tuccillo was following a similar pattern with the boardwalk.

“When Marine Patrol saw him building the walkway and asked him about it, he . . . said the town knew about it. By the time we got there, it was done. We had to go to Supreme Court to get it removed.” Apparently, the walkway was holding up the final approval of the Army Corps project. No one at the corps returned a request for comment.

As far as the tickets the town issued to him, they are still tied up in court. “He’s done everything he can to drag things out,” said Mr. Cooper. Brian Lester, Mr. Tuccillo’s attorney, did not respond to a request for comment, nor did Rob Connelly, the town attorney.

At the end of the walkway, before it was removed by the town, a sign read, “No trespassing. Beware of Dogs.” A video that accompanied the town’s press release showed a small Bobcat-style payloader, dragging the walkway off the dune, section by section.

 

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