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Restaurant at Blue Inn to Close Before End of Season

Scott Russell says restaurant has been making changes to outdoor patio dining against town code.

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.

What do you think? Tell us in the comment boxes below.

hdhouse October 02, 2012 at 11:26 AM
Well bury the silver and hide the children.
Frank T October 02, 2012 at 01:20 PM
Great job TOS. We can't have a successful business in this town. Shut down that evil Capitalist.
ethel terry October 02, 2012 at 02:34 PM
so sorry to hear that the blue had to close early!!!!!!!! we really enjoy going there and seeing all of our friends...............hope to see you return next season............. the terrys
Robin Radich Klotz October 02, 2012 at 03:03 PM
He put up a TEMPORARY quarter wall which he was under the understanding it was to code. It comes apart with a couple of screws. He did this to prevent children from running out into the driveway as one almost got hit and to prevent people from tripping off the patio. What a horrible person to take into consideration people's well being. He served quality food at reasonable prices. He also purchased foods from local farms, fisheries, bakeries and more now they are effected by losing his businesses. I think the key word in this article is that it is a "popular" place. Doesn't Southold Town have real violations they should be addressing?
Pete Driscoll October 02, 2012 at 03:17 PM
another good example of governmental interference with business...zoning laws which are intended to protect its citizens is often used to assert power and control..if the place was an otherwise good citizen, providing local employment and paying taxes this matter should have been quietly handled for the good of both parties. Good luck to the owners,
Joan October 02, 2012 at 04:35 PM
This is another case of those having a "little" power turning into dictators. It's difficult enough to run a successful restaurant without the town making it harder for no other reason than that they "can." The restaurant supports local growers, fisheries, bakeries, provides jobs for local people as well as bringing revenue into the community. Clearly the little dictators on the ZTE don't care about that, only that Mr. Glass must do as he is told without a nod to previous practice or safety considerations for his guests. The ZTE will bend Mr. Glass to their will and make sure that he makes no temporary changes or otherwise simply because they CAN. So as ZTE sees it the common sense thing to do is shut him down.
Antoinette Viola October 02, 2012 at 05:06 PM
Dangerous Scofflaws cannot hide in Southold Town ! Thank God Supervisor Russell is here to protect us from Tarps..... I think we should all celebrate by going to Founders Tavern and getting a competition- free Burger from his Brother. Can anyone say "recuse"?
joe insider October 02, 2012 at 08:16 PM
So the guy buys the place knowing what the rules are (and who is a lawyer by the way) and has over a year to make the appropriate application to expand his snack bar but doesn't and you blame the town? It is funny how people complain all the time about no code enforcement then complain when the town does enforce the code. I used to live in a town that didn't enforce the code. Trust me, it gets out of hand fast.
BW Sedgwick October 02, 2012 at 08:30 PM
What Supervisor Russell is doing to businesses in the ToS -- all to protect his brother's mediocre restaurant -- is just ridiculous. That he gets away with it and gets the rest of the board and local government to go along with it is stunning.
joe insider October 02, 2012 at 08:32 PM
Funny Frank T you recently commented on East Meadow Patch that the neighbors should be protected from a bad commercial owner. Doesn't making a commercial owner follow the rules apply here? Don't know where you live but if you have ever been out that far you would see bunches of houses all around this place. I don't get out there much but remember when the last guy had the place. We were reading about it every day on this website. You seem to be talking out of both sides of your mouth on this.
dave allison October 02, 2012 at 08:35 PM
These comments sound similar to the same people who walk their dogs on the beach right past the sign that clearly says "no dogs allowed" and justify it by saying "he's a friendly dog".
BW Sedgwick October 02, 2012 at 08:36 PM
What's wrong Antoinette? You don't like fried frozen chicken fingers washed down with Bud Light?
BW Sedgwick October 02, 2012 at 08:37 PM
Hey "Joe" ....what do you mean by "out of hand fast"? Too many successful businesses bringing money to the town? Too many tarps to ruin your lakefront views?
Anonymous Voter October 02, 2012 at 08:40 PM
Frankly Joe- I think I am starting to understand your handle. How far on the inside are you? If these "violations" are just Russell doing his job- why then do all of them seem to be in direct conflict with Legends? First he came for the wineries and I did not speak out because I was not a winery, then he came for the restaurants and I did not speak out because I did not have a restaurant. If I were a small business in Southold I'd start speaking up, because if this is his MO- he will be coming for you. I think its time to really think about re-election for this bully.
BW Sedgwick October 02, 2012 at 08:50 PM
It's painfully obvious what he's doing here. He's going after any and all possible competition for Founders. Period.
Frank T October 02, 2012 at 09:30 PM
Joe Insider, it looks like you did your research. Your correct I did comment on a problem area in E. Meadow. There are repair shops that leave autos that they are working on in front of residences. There is also debris including hyperdermic needles from the Hospital nearby and liquor bottles. Compare that with a business in East Marion. An existing business that the new owner actually improved by eliminating loud late night parties outdoor. The article does not indicate any neighbor complaints with the town. I'll trade you collision shops and hospitals for the Blue Inn.
Anonymous Voter October 02, 2012 at 11:33 PM
Sorry I meant Founders- my mistake.
charliez October 03, 2012 at 12:45 AM
Gee, seems some posters have a bit of a preconceived agenda . Town enforces rules and people bitch, let someone slide and it's patronage. Always a conspiracy there for the conspiracy theorists. Fact is, the town has codes to help protect the majority of its residents. Sometimes that makes a few people angry when applying the rules seems to be contrary to what we think is a situation that should be left alone. However, you cannot legislate for every possible exception to the rule. That's why the board of appeals exists. The ZBA is really the most powerful board in town government. Just ask Leslie Weismann. She is the head of the ZBA and a powerful town democrat. Scott Russel is right in upholding the laws. The owner of the business has every right to apply for his variance and the ZBA has the right on behalf of the citizens to issue the variance. As far as Scott trying to angle this to protect his brother who owns Founders, I guess you've never witnessed them verbally sparring at the board meetings. Methinks there's not a lot of hugs going 'round the thanksgiving table with those 2 guys.
Tom October 03, 2012 at 01:00 AM
So let me get this straight... the guy, Glass, buys a property that has a preexisting, nonconforming use on it... a snack bar. So then in a fit of "I bought it, I think I'll do whatever-the-hell I want with it," he then expands the preexisting, nonconforming snack bar to create, in effect, a full service restaurant. Which, I might add, he is simply not allowed to do. Oh, and this is all notwithstanding the fact that when the guy bought the property, he specifically signed papers with the town promising that he would not expand the use or enclosed the patio without proper process and permits. But hey, a guy has to be able to make a profit, right? Oh, and jobs jobs jobs, right? So screw it. I am going to just build the wall, tent off the place, throw in a few propane heaters or whatever, and bingo, instant non-code-compliant restaurant. Get zinged by the town, the ZBA to be specific, and cry out that you are being persecuted by the evil empire. WOW, almost sounds like... wait for it folks... Sherwood House? Shinn Vineyards? Vineyard 48? Anyone want to add to the list? It's easy enough to do... Get over it. They bought the property, they have to go through the process. This quasi-news source may have interviewed Russell, but he didn't make the decision on this one... it's the ZBA that did it, so get over it and cry to them. I, for one, am pleased as punch that they are requiring businesses to abide by the code. We have rules in this world...Learn to follow them.
Tom October 03, 2012 at 01:32 AM
Yeah, wow, you are so totally and completely right. Mr. Russell is so powerful that he is able to command Leslie Weisman and all the other members of the ZBA to do his bidding. They are so afraid of the power he wields over them that they collapse at the mere sight of the man, at the sound of his footsteps, at the feel of his mighty presence. The ZBA cowers, the rest of the town board retreats in fear, the building department scurries to issue violations at his beck and call... and all because he can... he can... he can... Wait. He can't do a freaking thing to them. Not one single stinking thing. He cant select or fire the other town board members. He can't select or fire the ZBA members, and heavens forbid he acts in any manner offensive to the building department and the wrath of their union will land upon his head and upon the legal budget of the town of Southold so fast that the fees incurred would make the mass quantities of sheer ineptitude at the town dump look like the second coming of Einstein himself. Show up for a town board meeting once in a while, will ya? He's just one man, nothing more. He doesn't issue violations, doesn't make ZBA decisions, and from what I am told makes a mediocre grilled cheese sandwich, at best. And as for controlling government for the sole purpose of protecting his brother's restaurant... put down the bong and saddle up to reality. The real world is out there... look it in the face and inhale some fresh air.
Tom October 03, 2012 at 01:34 AM
@Antoinette Viola "Recuse" from what? What decision did Mr. Russell make that he should have recused himself from?
Anonymous Voter October 03, 2012 at 02:45 AM
Lesie Weismann is a part time government employee. If Russell helps to create laws with the town council that make it difficult to run a business then the ZBA has to up hold them. Not so sure you understand how your town government works.
Anonymous Voter October 03, 2012 at 02:47 AM
Eric.... is that you?
Tom October 03, 2012 at 09:45 AM
Nice, but nope.
joe insider October 03, 2012 at 12:12 PM
My Handle? I have no current role with this or any town government. In my former profession, i dealt with all 10 Suffolk Towns. This is how it works: the complaint comes in usually from a neighbor or community gadfly and the Chief Building/zoning official goes out to determine if 1. the work needs a building permit then 2. if the contemplated use is allowed in the zone. That official's decision is final. He does NOT implement the decisions of the town board. In fact he does not answer to the town board. His authority is given to him by the State of New york. Perhaps the reporter should have a discussion with him to see what transpired here. It is not likely or legal that he went out and carried out a "mission" of a board member or supervisor. I don't care if you vote for the guy and, frankly, I don't care if the guy wins again or not but at least know the facts. Last year people were critical of him on his and the whole board's stand on gogreen. You all said they were just trying to protect the local businesses. Now you say he is coming after them. By the way, a fried was recently looking to relocate his seafood takeout restaurant and found a building not even 300 yards away from Founders Tavern. The zoning wouldn't allow for it so Russell proposed changing the zone to accommodate him. Doesn't sound like he is protecting his brothers interest there, does it? Don't believe me go ask him at Southold Seafood Market..
Jackie McKee October 03, 2012 at 02:09 PM
I live behind the Blue and am glad to see it operational and I have enjoyed many a meal there (I especially recommend the fish taco). I am happy that it provides a place for locals and their guests to meet and eat. Understanding this, the Town has cut the new owner some slack regarding renovations and patronage. Mr. Glass purchased the property with full knowledge of the limitations attached to it. Among other things, he has held private parties there which, due to a lack of parking, have resulted in a dangerous overflow of cars parked on the main making U-turns to return west. In doing so, he has pushed the Town to act on the letter of the law rather than in the spirit of the law. Mr. Glass is an absentee landlord living in Hempstead. He has no connection to this community and therefore no interest other than a business one. Having lived through the previous owner's blatant defiance of Town Code, I am wary of his intent and I applaud the Town and Supervisor Scott for upholding the code --- written to protect the quality of life on the North Fork. Without such codes, property owners could open motels and restaurants in their backyards. How would you like to have a neighbor like that? The decision regarding The Blue Inn is a ZBA one. Mr. Russell merely supported existing town code. I trust that this issue will be resolved in a way that will benefit us all.
RGBPI October 18, 2012 at 11:52 PM
Close them down. Make it another Section 8 Motel. That's what the town wants??......The town should be thank full someone has enough brains to open up a great restaurant and motel in East Marion.....creating job and adding to the economy. The economy is bad enough. Give the guy a break!!

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