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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.

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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