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Town to Sunset Beach: Turn it down

AMBROSE CLANCY PHOTO | Sunset from the Sunset Beach Hotel.

AMBROSE CLANCY PHOTO  Sunset from the Sunset Beach Hotel.

Sunset Beach Hotel defines a certain kind of Shelter Island summer — millionaires’ yachts anchored off Crescent Beach, sunbathing, people watching, celebrity spotting, complicated cocktails and dancing by strobe or moon light.

And for some of Sunset Beach’s neighbors, summer also means window-rattling amplified music with sledgehammer bass lines at all hours of the night.

Earlier this month, some of those neighbors on Serpentine Drive presented a petition to Supervisor Gary Gerth to demand action on bringing the late-night din under control.

The petition stated that noise from Sunset Beach is “a long-standing grievance” with “many attempts by the owners of properties along Serpentine Drive to convince Sunset Beach to regulate the noise level with no success. Fines have been given but have not been substantial enough to convince the management of Sunset Beach to control their DJ. The main noise is generated by outside speakers pointing in all directions. Music can be heard all the way over to Greenport.”

The neighbors stated that the police have been called on numerous occasions over the years but the problem remains. Allowing the situation to continue, the neighbors said, has ruined their quality of life and is also a waste of the Police Department’s time if nothing is resolved.

Police Chief Jim Read reported that four tickets were written for Sunset Beach last summer for violating the town code’s noise ordinance.

One resident, who agreed to be quoted but wanted to remain anonymous, told the Reporter “if the music was played at a decibel level that was legal, no one would stay away from Sunset Beach. They wouldn’t lose customers.”

Cranking up amplified music shows “hostility to the community and it humiliates the Police Department to have to go and 10 minutes later the music is back up blasting away. Really? Is that the way you treat our Police Department?”

At a recent Town Hall meeting, the supervisor, Town Attorney Bob DeStefano Jr., the chief, members of the Town Board and other town officials met with representatives of Sunset Beach and residents to address the issue. All who attended came away with positive reactions.

Chief Read said, “The operators said they want to ensure noise is scaled back so there are no violations this year.”

Mr. Gerth said the meeting cleared the air for all sides, including Sunset Beach, which he described as “good neighbors for the past 22 years.”

According to Receiver of Taxes Annmarie Seddio, the hotel’s 2017-2018 tax bill for the town, the Shelter Island School district and Suffolk County is $49,541.

Joel Assouline, who spearheaded the petition, said that after meeting the hotel’s managers they “promised they would actually put in some controls and be good neighbors.”

This is not Mr. Assouline’s first complaint to the town about Sunset Beach. Last August he went before the Town Board to say he “loved” the popular nightspot. “But at midnight, I’m not sure I love it then.”

Summonses had been written but, he added, the hotel’s manager seemed to consider that as just a cost of doing business. The board, at the time, promised to look into the matter.

After the Town Hall meeting earlier this month, hotel owner Andre Balazs sent a case of wine to be shared by residents of Serpentine Drive, Mr. Assouline said, “as a mea culpa and saying we’re not going to do this anymore.”

Asked if the matter had come to a satisfactory conclusion, Mr. Assouline said, “Right now it looks that way. At least they’re showing signs of wanting to be good neighbors and do the right thing.” He paused, and added, “But the season hasn’t started yet.”