By Claire Walla
When luxury event planning company Gilt City was banished from its Hamptons headquarters at a house on Fithian Lane in East Hampton just last week, the New York City-based company packed up and moved west.
After securing a rental at 1432 Scuttlehole Road in Bridgehampton — another home zoned in a residential district — Gilt City continued to advertise high-priced Hamptons sojourns, which were to be based out of the Bridgehampton home. Southampton Town officials were not pleased.
“What we’re doing today is taking action,” Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst said at a special board meeting held last Friday, August 12. With regard to two walk-on resolutions introduced by Councilwoman Nancy Graboski — one in reference to the house in Bridgehampton and the other in reference to a similar case at 2136 Deerfield Road in Noyac — the board voted unanimously to grant Town Attorney Tiffany Scarlato the authority to “take any action necessary” to eliminate these illegal rental scenarios.
With regard to Deerfield Road, Mark Humphrey, a neighbor of the alleged party house, said before the town board: “This house is a nightmare.”
He continued to explain that the house has been “a nightmare” for four consecutive summers. “I have called the police on this particular renter no less than five times this summer,” he added. “One time, I couldn’t’ even find my driveway, there were so many cars… and I live across the street!” He estimated there have been up to 30 cars spilling out from the property’s main drive on any given night.
“The Town of Southampton has taken a hard stance on these kinds of situations, where a residential property is being used [illegally], whether as a prom house or a party house,” Graboski continued. She noted that the town adopted a more stringent rental code a few years ago, which grants town officials more control over rental properties in Southampton.
“And we’ve tightened up our special events law,” she continued. While “not-for-profits or entities that will benefit non-for-profits [are permitted] to hold special events, that’s usually on a one-night basis,” she clarified. More importantly, she added, “the law does not permit the operation of a business” out of a rental property.
Punctuating the importance of this decision, Councilman Jim Malone requested to be a co-sponsor of the resolution because of what he twice referred to as the “gravity of the situation.” Councilwoman Bridget Fleming followed his lead, co-sponsoring the resolution, as well.
Town Attorney Tiffany Scarlato said because both homes have been issued a number of violations, including having no rental or special event permits, she is seeking a temporary restraining order (TRO) against them, which would bar the current renters from occupying the homes. As of this week, Scarlato said “the TRO was denied,” though she wouldn’t elaborate on the reasons why. However, representatives for both homes are due in court this Friday, August 19.
“The town will continue to keep a very sharp eye on exactly what’s going on in both of these houses,” Scarlato confirmed. “We will continue to act in a way that is beneficial for the neighborhood and the town.”
At least, Scarlato continued, since last Friday’s special board meeting “things were relatively quiet” at both homes over the weekend. While the town continues to take action to enforce the multiple violations issued both properties, Scarlato seemed pleased to know that, at the very least, Friday’s meeting helped quell the chaos.