Maidstone: Don’t Fence Me In

Independent/Ty Wenzel

It was not easy for The Maidstone to get approval for a small dining area outside its East Hampton hotel. Now the property owner doing business as Maidstone and Lexington Lounge LLC does not want to erect a state Supreme Court-ordered fence.

The decision follows a lengthy, hard-fought court battle that began in February 2010. The Maidstone sued East Hampton Village, Mayor Paul Rickenbach, the village board, and the planning board and zoning board of appeals. Under the state Supreme Court’s decision, the zoning board was ordered to issue a special permit that allowed the outdoor dining area, subject to the erection of a sound-absorbing fence.

In a December 9, 2019 letter from attorney Leonard Ackerman to the village’s zoning board, he said Justice Melvyn Tanenbaum, who wrote the court’s decision, likely assumed the “owners of 9 Mill Hill Lane had no relationship to the applicants.”

“They do not require the protection designed by the fence,” he said of the neighbors in the letter. “Nor do they wish to have it.”

Maidstone and Lexington Lounge LLC had originally agreed to build a six-foot-tall fence “with sound baffling material” between two existing fences. It is the boundary line between the restaurant at the corner of Main Street and Mill Hill Lane.

The 1770 House Restaurant & Inn, which is also zoned residential, received approval for its outdoor seating area in June of 2008, and a 2009 moratorium followed. The ban the village adopted was on new outdoor dining in residential areas, which prompted The Maidstone ownership group to sue.

The Palm at the Huntting Inn and the Hedges Inn were also affected by that decision.

Ackerman noted 1770 House was not required to erect an acoustic fence, and asked the same stipulation be applied in the case of The Maidstone “as long as 9 Mill Hill Lane is owned by an affiliate of the applicants.”

The matter was to come up at the village board’s March 13 meeting, which was cancelled. The issue will be postponed to a later meeting.

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