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Neighbors Object To Yearly Barrage Of Summer Fundraisers Next Door

Originally Posted: June 25, 2008

Andrea Aurichio

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A large inflatable gorilla towers over the Carnival held last year on the Mecox Lane property. Photo by Lilyan Glusker Meeting photos by Andrea Aurichio

Southampton - Sometimes a party is just not fun in the Hamptons according to the irate residents of Summerfield Lane and Mecox Road in Water Mill, where three planned charity events tentatively scheduled to be held this summer have the community up in arms demanding the Town Board deny the needed special events permits and put a stop to all the fun and games on a 29-acre farm field with an agricultural easement.

Summerfield Lane resident Larry Smith made a 100-mile drive
out to Southampton to share his opinion with the board
concerning the issuance of party permits that would allow
three more major fundraising events to take place on a 29-acre
farm on Mecox Road.

The residents do not want the parties to take place this year at Simon's Diamond Ranch at 600 Mecox Road. The property owner, Stanley Simon, is applying for three special events permits for parties scheduled to take place in July and August. One event benefiting the American Cancer Society has been approved for June 28, however, if his neighbors prevail, the town board will deny approval of the other permits for events scheduled to be held for organizations including the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and the Albert Einstein College of Medicine.

Residents and town officials alike are not in a party mood citing the last minute nature of the applications while they question the legitimacy of using the 29-acre farm with an agricultural easement for fundraising events that appear to be a business enterprise for property owner Stanley Simon. They are also objecting to the noise and disruption created by the events which will attract nearly 1,000 people and bring more than 900 cars into the area.

Residents claim they were unable to protest in the past because they did not receive any advance notice of the applications while they were pending approval so they could participate in the process.

"We didn't know until the trucks pulled up, and then it was too late to do anything," Seth Stein, an attorney and Summerfield Lane resident since 1983, said.

The Wild West Carnival featured a petting
zoo, several rides, and an assortment of
giant-sized inflatable animal balloons that
may have delighted attendees but
displeased neighbors.

Simon attended the three successive public hearings held at the Town Board's regular Tuesday night meeting but remained silent as he sat in the second row while his attorney Vincent Messina, Jr. of the Central Islip based law firm Sinnreich & Kosakoff LLP tried to convince the town board of the rightness of their cause.

Messina maintained his client had the right to use his property for special events for four of the 365 days in a year while his neighbors disagreed noting they use their homes for ten weekends a year, four of which are disrupted by the parties held on his property.

"We are deprived of the use of our homes," Larry Smith charged. Smith likened the noise emanating from Simon's parties to the actions of a bad neighbor. "I don't have the right to play my stereo as loud as I want to if it disturbs all my neighbors. I would lower the volume." Smith made a 100-mile drive to attend the public hearing on Tuesday evening.

Messina said his client would be willing to provide residents with a phone number they could call if the music was too loud and insisted they wanted to be good neighbors.

The attorney did not reply to a pointed question posed by Councilwoman Nancy Graboski who wanted to know if Simon was charging rent for the use of his land for these special events. "I don't know," Messina replied to boos and catcalls from the audience before Supervisor Linda Kabot admonished the residents to be respectful.

Attorney Seth Stein noted the town board does not
have to repeat its mistakes and continue to grant
special event permits to the Diamond Ranch because
they have a history of issuing the permits.

Presenting an argument that the events raised money for good causes and were a permitted use of the property under existing town laws, Messina also cited the precedent established by the town over the years when permits were granted for these events as recently as last year when several parties were held on the property. "We are not asking for anything new," Messina said noting special events held on the property dating back to 1995.

Councilwoman Graboski disagreed maintaining the frequency of the events could be regulated and was definitely an issue of concern to the board. "I'm a farmer's wife, I'm not an attorney," Graboski said as she held her own in a debate with Messina who noted her influential role in the granting of special permits.

"You have a lot of power," Messina said, "but the one thing you don't have is the authority to be arbitrary and capricious."

Stein disagreed with Messina's interpretation. "There is no vested interest here," Stein said. "The town's failure to enforce the law in the past doesn't mean they can't do it now."

Messina noted his client could use his property to have large parties for his family and friends and be within his rights. "He could host parties for 150 people every day of the week, every week of the year and be within the law," Messina claimed, referring to his client's right to use his agricultural property described on public records as "field and seed" for compatible recreational pursuits.

"No one could reasonably envision that compatible recreational use could mean this. We are talking about two dinner dances, a carnival for kids, and another event that will bring more than 900 cars to my property line," Stein maintained.

Mecox Road residents Irwin and Lilyan Glusker agreed. "We have lived on Mecox Road for 45 years," Glusker said. "Most residences are occupied in the summer. The trash, the noise, the 30-foot Godzilla, does not help the area's lush tax base or contribute to our property values. We are here a few months of the year," Glusker said "and we ask for very little other than to be left alone."

Councilwoman Nancy Graboski praises the work done
on behalf of worthy causes but questions the use of a
29-acre farm that was granted an agricultural easement
for what appears to be a business enterprise.

"No one objects to the events," Graboski said, "we object to the location in a primarily residential area and we object to the use of this land which clearly has an agricultural easement not intended for this purpose. The key word here is compatible."

Last Minute Applications
Graboski, along with other town board members, noted applications for special events permits could be submitted to the town right after the first of the year rather than at the last minute.

"They do this all the time," Graboski said, "they put in a last minute application, then they tell us we have to give them the permit because it is too late for them to go anywhere else and they have already printed the invitations. It's like they are holding a gun to our head."

John Stark, a dean from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, thanked the board for their support in the past and asked for their blessing for one more year. "We have enjoyed three years in this town, and we would like one more," Stark said as he discussed the difficulties involved in finding another location before Aug. 3 - the date set for the event on Mecox Road.

Councilwoman Anna Throne-Holst took the opportunity to comment on the town's current policy concerning the issuance of special permits suggesting there should be a different process put into place. "I don't think this belongs before the town board," Throne-Holst said. "I think it is a waste of the public's time. We should start to look at another way to handle this."

The board did not make a decision on the permits after the public hearings.

The heavily attended Carnival may have made its last stand on Mecox Lane if town officials refuse to grant a special event permit allowing the event to return this summer. Photo by Lilyan Glusker

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Guest (Long time resident) from Water Mill says::
I've lived on the East End for 40 years, and like most of my neighbors, I'm not here to hobnob with the elite or otherwise improve my social standing. I'm here to relax, be with my family, and enjoy the beauty of this amazing environment (or what's left of it). The only commercial enterprises that are appropriate in this residential area are the farmstands that serve the community and disturb no one. If the Diamond Ranch can turn its property into a fundraising enterprise and benefit from that, then anyone can do it. Why not have auctions on Madison Street in Sag Harbor every weekend in the name of some charity? Or toss a tent in someone's backyard on Halsey Street in Bridgehampton and host weddings on Saturdays and Sundays. Give a percentage of the 'gate' to a charity and you're in business. During bad economic times, people look for loopholes. Rent your house to too many people; rent your yard to anyone who will pay the freight and claim sainthood because you're helping a "charity." Sorry, folks,if it looks like a duck....
Jun 30, 2008 12:00 am

Guest (East Hampton Local) from East Hampton says::
"Summer People" waltz in for 3 short months a year and think they own this town. Their only concern is to rub elbows with the elite..."How great can I make myself look this summer while snobbing it up in the Hampton's!" Well, summer folks, its not just about you....if you look past those rose colored glases you just might see a group of people called "the less fortunate". Would it kill the residence of Mecox Lane to give up nothing more than their backyard view for 3 days? No money is being asked of them! Perhaps these so called "neighbors" should get their noses out of the air and start thinking of more than their own social standing charity comes in many forms folks, sometimes it might just mean looking past the ugly blow-up gorilla for a day or two.
Jun 26, 2008 10:36 am


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