At Tuesday’s Town Board work session, Supervisor Jim Dougherty suggested a new law be put on the books requiring homeowners to come before the board for a permit if they have more than one large event a year, such as a wedding.
The size of the event could be decided by factors such as tents, portable toilets, amplified music and numbers of people attending. In addition, the permit would be applied for by the owner of the property, and not the tenant.
The idea was sparked by a reception earlier this month at 89 Ram Island Drive, owned by Trip McCrossin, and rented to tenants who threw a wedding party. By all accounts there were several large tents and up to 300 people. It had “all the energy of a rock concert,” Marc Wein, president of the Ram Island Association, told the board Tuesday.
Mr. Wein asked the board to consider legislation that other towns had on the books limiting parties that put huge burdens on neighborhoods with noise, traffic and general disruptions.
Building Inspector William Banks told the board that cars were parked at the Menantic firehouse on Cobbett’s Lane for the reception and buses took the guests on to the reception. Mr. Wein said there was a Hampton Jitney coach, three school buses and two minivans to take people back and forth.
No complaints were made, said Police Chief Jim Read.
The board and neighbors of Mr. McCrossin have been in this territory before. Mr. Banks and Building Permit Coordinator Mary Wilson have both said there is no doubt the McCrossin residence has been advertised and used as a commercial venture as a short lease wedding house for years.
Zoned residential, it is illegal to have a commercial use for the house.
Mr. McCrossin has said recently, and on several occasions in the past, that his motivation to rent out his house is “he loves weddings.” In an email to Supervisor Jim Dougherty Tuesday, Mr. McCrossin wrote: “I continue to be true to what I’ve committed to, which is to have the occasional use of my property for weddings … [not accepting] remuneration of any sort.”
Town Attorney Laury Dowd said that sounded “like he intends to continue, though he will not take money for it.”
Proving that Mr. McCrossin is making money by giving short leases — some as short as a week — for wedding receptions is extremely hard to prove, Mr. Banks mentioned, where profits could be hidden in any number of ways.
One resident suggested looking at Mr. McCrossin’s tax records.
“Would you want us to look into your tax records?” Ms. Dowd countered.
On top of the problems of neighbors bearing large blowout parties several times a summer, there is also a public safety factor, said resident Larry Winston, with the possibility of fire and road accidents. “The town should take a role in limiting the size of gatherings,” Mr. Winston said.
In other business: The board continued to review draft legislation for a new irrigation law. There will be a public hearing on the matter October 3 at Town Hall. The draft legislation, plus a map and a flow chart are posted on the town’s website.
Dering Harbor Mayor Tim Hogue said that historically villagers’ dock applications have gone through the town, but now the village would like to handle the process itself. This would make it more efficient and quicker when dealing with the State Department of Environmental Conservation, Mr. Hogue said. There was no opposition from board members.
The Chequit asked the board to waive a waiting period required by the state liquor authority for a renewal of its liquor license This has been done by other establishments in the past, said Supervisor Jim
Dougherty, and there was no issue preventing the board agreeing to the waiver.