By Claire Walla
The Rose Hill Estate is a sprawling mansion with 10 luxurious rooms, a swimming pool and spa, separate pool house, basketball and tennis courts, billiard room, theatre… the list goes on. At monthly rates ranging from $140,000 to $375,000, it bills itself as “the ultimate luxury rental in the Hamptons.”
But it is now also facing numerous zoning code violations brought on by Southampton Town Code Enforcement.
The estate is just one example of such residential problems here on the East End, according to Southampton Town Councilman Chris Nuzzi and Councilwoman Christine Preston Scalera.
Last Tuesday, February 14 the two town council members — who both serve as liaisons for code enforcement issues — co-sponsored a resolution to reinstate the town’s Housing and Quality of Life Task Force. The task force had been created in 2006 to address problems of overcrowding, but its activities have since decreased — until now.
“It’s been a consistent issue in the town,” Preston Scalera stated.
She added the town receives many complaints from residents regarding unmaintained or illegal residences, and the newly created task force is a way to address those issues in a more timely and effective manner.
“These are very real issues, and people make repeated attempts to try to fix things,” she continued.
Sometimes, though, however diligently the town may be working, it takes months, even years to begin prosecuting some of these cases.
“It gets frustrating for people, and I can understand that,” she added.
The task force will bring a collection of department heads to the same table to streamline the process of investigating these zoning and building code violations, like the case with Rose Hill Estate.
After executing a search warrant earlier this month, Southampton Town Investigations and Enforcement Unit found that portions of the residence — which has a certificate of occupancy for 10 bedrooms, a pool house, a swimming pool and spa — were being converted into an additional two-bedroom apartment “for concierge staff.”
Southampton Town Code Enforcement Officer David Betts said the town itself had been aware of the estate, which was built in 2010. But, the town had also received complaints about the property from neighbors.
The complex, run by Michael D’Alessio, was ultimately slapped with a plethora of violations. They include: no rental permit, transient rental (multiple counts), no building permits (multiple counts), no plumbing or electrical permit for pool house conversion, change of use converting two rooms in the basement to bedrooms and violation of the certificate of occupancy. Concierge staff, Megan Kemper and Matthew Ardley, were also charged for not having a rental permit and issued transient rental violations. All parties are due in Southampton Town Justice Court on March 2.
Employees from Rose Hill Estate didn’t return calls for comment.
“As far as whether they’re still operating, I’m not aware that they are,” Betts continued. “But they’re certainly aware that they’re in violation of the law.”
Betts added that in order for the house to have run the way it had been operating for the past two years, it would require a change of zoning.
“The owner [of Rose Hill Estate] blatantly disregarded the law for his own personal gain at the expense of his neighbors and legitimate area hotels and businesses,” Councilman Nuzzi said in a statement. “Also of great concern are the potential safety issues related to the rooms that were constructed illegally without the proper inspections.”
According to the text of the newly adopted resolution, it is a “priority” for the town to recreate the task force in order to efficiently respond to and prosecute “quality of life violations” in the town.
The organization will meet once a month — or more if needed at the discretion of the town attorney — and will be composed of representatives from several key departments in the town. They include: the attorney’s office, police department, code enforcement, land management (building, zoning and environment), fire marshal, town board and representatives from the town justice court.
“A priority of the task force,” Nuzzi continued, “will be to look at how to prosecute violators, particularly repeat violators, in a more efficient and expeditious manner.”