A $30 million lawsuit against the Village of Sag Harbor brought by condominium developers East End Ventures was dismissed for a second time last week in federal court. According to one of the principals of East End Ventures, Emil Talel, a second lawsuit brought against the village in state court is also in the process of being dismissed, although court documents were unavailable as of press time.
According to Talel, he and his partner, Michael Maidan, agreed to drop both cases, which have been dismissed with prejudice meaning the suits cannot be brought forth again, after meeting with Sag Harbor Mayor Brian Gilbride. After that meeting, Talel said both he and Maidan felt the best course of action was to dismiss both lawsuits and attempt to revive a project at the property at the center of both cases, 1, 3 and 5 Ferry Road next to the Lance Corporal Haerter Veterans Memorial Bridge.
“After that meeting two weeks ago, we felt that both sides have good intentions to do the right thing and we agreed it was best to dismiss both suits,” said Talel.
“We are happy the applicant has chosen to dismiss these lawsuits and look forward to him coming forward with a project,” said Deputy Mayor Tim Culver.
He added no deals were struck with East End Ventures in order to gain the dismissal and that they would have to adhere to the same planning process as every other applicant.
“We hope they find good use for the property,” said Culver, “and we hope they build something there that is good for the village.”
In August of 2009, East End Ventures filed an article 78 against the Village of Sag Harbor in state court. The developers alleged they were led to believe a proposed 18-unit luxury condominium project at the site would be exempt from the village’s new zoning code. That code drastically reduced the number of units allowed on the property. East End Ventures also charged the village’s application process was flawed and that the new zoning code was not adopted correctly.
East End Ventures followed that suit by levying a $30 million civil action in federal court against Sag Harbor Village, as well as individuals with seats on the Sag Harbor Village Board, the village attorneys and the village’s environmental planning consultant. In that suit, they alleged East End Ventures was specifically discriminated against, noting that the developers of the approved 65-unit condominium project at the former Bulova Watchcase Factory were given exemption from the new village code.
East End Ventures had previously been granted approval to construct condominiums at 21 West Water Street by the Village of Sag Harbor. Three-quarters built, that project stalled two years ago due to lack of financing.
In January of 2011, United States Eastern District Court Judge Leonard D. Wexler dismissed that case, but allowed East End Ventures the right to appeal, which it did.
According to court documents, on May 9 United States District Court Magistrate A. Kathleen Tomlinson signed off on an agreement between attorneys representing both East End Ventures and the Village of Sag Harbor to end the $30 million civil suit. Both parties have also signed off on the dismissal of the Article 78, said Talel.
“As far as I am concerned, this is over,” he said on Tuesday.
Talel said he does intend to revive his application for the Ferry Road parcel sometime in the next month. He added he is also working towards finishing the 21 West Water Street project and hopes to have secured a financing deal by the end of the month.
“My hope is very simple,” he said. “I hope that we will start the process of getting approvals [for the Ferry Road project] and we hope the village will cooperate. “Hopefully we will get approvals to build a project that makes economic sense.”