East Hampton Bar Needs Special Permit

Journey East Hampton is seeking permit for a bar to serve customers on a poolside deck, and in the backyard. Independent/T. E. McMorrow

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article, which appeared online and in the printed edition of The Independent, misidentified Journey East Hampton, formerly known as the Dutch Motel and The Inn At East Hampton, with the nearby East Hampton House Resort. The Independent regrets the error.

The management of Journey East Hampton — which has already been granted numerous modifications to a 16-year-old site plan without a public hearing — is back for more. Now it wants to put in a bar on the property, which combines the old Dutch Motel and Inn at East Hampton, at 490 and 492 Pantigo Road.

This time, however, management will need more than just approval from the East Hampton Town Planning Board. Instead, it will probably need a public hearing to obtain a special permit that  would allow it to have a bar on the property.

The East Hampton Town approval process is one that the management group, Bridgeton Holdings, should know well by now. Bridgeton Holdings is the same company that runs Hero Beach Resort in Montauk, formerly known as Oceanside, or the Smiley Face motel. As with Hero Beach, it appears that Bridgeton has already put the bar in question in place, without obtaining a building permit from the East Hampton Town Building Department. As with Hero Beach, while the bar itself appears to be an innocuous amenity, the liquor license already obtained for both locations from the New York State Liquor Authority provides a much more expansive narrative.

The Independent obtained the liquor licenses from David Buda, a frequent observer and sometime critic of town government. Buda obtained the licenses from the SLA via a Freedom of Information Act request.

Concern over the current practice of grandfathering in parking at sites such as Hero Beach, then allowing owners to open up a bar or restaurant with only half the additional parking spaces required if the bar or restaurant was a new, stand-alone business has prompted the East Hampton Town Board to craft a code amendment to address such situations.

The liquor license for Hero Beach allows Bridgeton Holdings to serve up to 499 customers on the property at any one time. Live music and dancing are allowed, which holds true for Journey East Hampton’s license as well. Its license allows up to 200 customers on a deck around a pool as well as in the backyard. According to a memo from JoAnne Pahwul, the town’s assistant planning director, addressed to the planning board, the deck and pool were approved by the board for the site this past August as a modification of a 2002 site plan.

Photographs included in Pahwul’s memo show firepits, Adirondack and deck chairs, and tables where people can gather.

Pahwul writes that the last certificate of occupancy for that site was issued October 2, 1998. The 1998 CO does not appear to reflect the current layout on the property.

The deck around the pool, which is described in the SLA application as a pool house, has 24 tables and 63 seats.

On the questionnaire attached to the application to the SLA the question is asked, with the following capitalized letters also in bold face on the form: “If applying for an on-premises license, does the premises have a VALID CERTIFICATE OF OCCUPANCY and ALL appropriate permits?” The yes box to that question is checked off on the form.

However, in Pahwul’s memo, she states that a permit for the bar must be obtained from the planning board, not as a modification of the 2002 site plan, but as a new application on its own.

Besides its role at Hero Beach and Journey East Hampton, Bridgeton Holdings is also the holding company handling the recently purchased Atlantic Terrace in East Hampton. Residents in the neighboring Surf Club have already raised questions about Bridgeton Holdings’ long-range plans for the property. The Atlantic Terrace home page is similar in look to Hero Beach and Journey East’s, with lavish overhead shots of the property. Unlike the other two websites, however, AtlanticTerrace.com does not have any links on it, other than one called “stay up to date.” However, the website does promise, “Coming to Montauk 2019.”

On Bridgeton Holdings’ website, the management company lists an extensive portfolio of high-end hotels in Manhattan, as well as in San Francisco, Boston, Los Angeles, and numerous other locations.

The Journey East Hampton application is on the agenda for the planning board’s meeting on Wednesday, November 7.


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