Featured Story

Consultant: No long review for Inn dock — Court case still pending against two town officials

Despite an initial opinion that the proposed dock for the Ram’s Head Inn appears unlikely to need a lengthy State Environmental Quality Review Act report (SEQRA), it may be awhile until the Town Board would act on approval of plans submitted for its construction.

Councilman Jim Colligan told his colleagues he wouldn’t vote to allow the conversion of another dock for use by the Inn until a dock on the Causeway used by Inn visitors this summer is removed.

“I will never approve this dock” if the dock along the Causeway is still in place, he said.

The original dock, long used by former Inn owners James and Linda Eklund, had been an issue of contention on whether or not it was on Town-owned land. When it was finally determined that it was, the Town Board initially allowed its continued use to avoid interrupting Inn owner Aandrea Carter’s ability to operate the business.

But when the summer season ended, Mr. Colligan said Ms. Carter had responsibility to remove that dock and take actions to build a replacement on property she had purchased adjacent to the Inn.

When the original dock was not removed, the Town Board ordered a Public Works crew to fence it off and remove planks to the land. That gave rise to the legal actions that ensued.

Supervisor Gerry Siller and Town Attorney Stephen Kiely had to leave the room during Tuesday’s discussion because both are being sued personally for the action taken to make the dock unusable.

The case is pending in Suffolk County Supreme Court before Justice Joseph Santorelli. There have been many filings of motions by both sides, but few actual court appearances. There is no time frame for resolution of the case, but the next date for any action in the case is slated for Dec. 15 with Mr. Colligan predicting there could be a court decision soon.

Deputy Supervisor Amber-Brach Williams ran the discussion Tuesday as Billy Hajek, of Hajek Land Planning and Environmental Consulting of East Hampton, said he determined based on information he examined that there is no need for a lengthy environmental study of a plan to adapt the Bennett dock for use by Inn visitors.

Mr. Hajek reviewed project information filed on behalf of Ms. Carter by Jack Costello of Costello Marine, permits issued for the project by the state Department of Environmental Conservation and letters submitted in support and opposed to the revised dock plans.

He said he concluded a long environmental study is not needed, but cautioned that advice would stand providing that two circumstances don’t come into play:

• The project doesn’t require a change of use that would have to be decided by the Zoning Board of Appeals.

• The operation isn’t deemed to be a marina as defined by the Town Code.

“I don’t believe they function as a marina,” Mr. Hajek said.

In response to a question from Ms. Brach-Williams, Mr. Hajek said his letter to the Town Board could be rewritten to show the plans he assessed were based on two floating docks, not one as his letter currently states. He said the change wouldn’t alter his view that no long SEQRA study is needed.

Whenever the Town Board might want to move the decision along, it requires scheduling a continuation of a public hearing before a vote could take place.