Though the restaurant at the Blue Inn in East Marion has been operational for just about a year and a half now — including an outdoor concrete patio section under a recognizable blue awning — Southold Town Supervisor Scott Russell said this week that recent renovations to the outdoor section does not jibe with town code.
“The problem is that the snack bar that was there is considered preexisting and nonconforming,” he said. “It is supposed to be accessory to the hotel. If the owner seeks to expand its use to a full service restaurant / catering facility then he needs to make an application to the building department then have a hearing before the Zoning Board of Appeals.”
Sam Glass, the owner of the Blue Inn, said he was taken by surprise by this decision from town officials early last month, when he sought permission from them to create a temporary wall with a tarp around the patio area when the weather became cooler.
“It was getting colder out and we asked them if we could use a tarp, and they said no — and that they didn’t know if we were even allowed to have people besides those staying at the Inn use the restaurant,” Glass said. “So after months of having outside patrons use the restaurant, they decided that we couldn’t anymore.”
Glass said that the restaurant stays open until the end of October or November, but that if the patio cannot be used, he has to close earlier than usual. Russell said that the property is zoned as resort and residential and a restaurant /catering use is "not allowed as a matter of right but only as a special exception," adding: "Mr. Glass signed documents when he bought the property promising the town that he would not expand the use or enclosed the patio without going through the code required process."
“That, of course, means the approval of the ZBA," Russell continues. "The owner was explained all of this and I offered to have him come in to meet with the building department and the attorney to go over what is required. I realize that some are very fond of the new place and the new chef there, as well. However, the code requires ZBA approval for what they seek to do there."
Glass, owner of the Ocean Resort Inn on 95 South Emerson Avenue in Montauk, bought the Inn at the Blue and changed the name to the Blue Inn in February 2011. The Blue Inn features nine rooms located in the original historic home, two quaint cottages and 20 traditional roadside-style rooms. A restaurant and pub and an outdoor swimming pool are also on premises. Before the inn closed before this latest management, it was an active spot for outdoor parties featuring live music from local bands.
But Glass said he’s not had any loud, late-night parties — years ago that was a big complaint for neighbors in that section of East Marion, he’s never intended to keep the restaurant open year-round, and that he entered into an agreement with the town that the restaurant would be operational as an accessory to the Inn. Glass said that if the town interprets that as allowing only guests from the Inn to use the restaurant, he doesn’t understand how he can survive economically.
“In a day and age when you’re trying to open up a business and get people jobs and then you’re faced with these kind of restrictions — I don’t understand it,” Glass said. “But we’re filing for the special exception so we can move forward.”
Glass said he plans to reopen the restaurant in mid-May of next year.
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