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Targeting The Big Parties

Posted on 11 July 2008

Sag Harbor Mayor Greg Ferraris never thought the Village of Sag Harbor would have to contend with sponsor, branding or event houses — usually large estates, rented to what are basically corporate entities, hosting event after event throughout the hectic summer season, promoting different brands and goods.

That was until last week.

Last week, rumors swirled throughout the village about a Glover Street residence set to host a Lionel Ritchie concert, in what may have been a series of events planned at the home, which was rented for the summer by Scott Feldman. Feldman is the head of Two Twelve Management & Marketing, a branding firm that has advertised residences in Aspen and South Beach as “Access” houses, featuring different sponsors and brands.

While it remains to be seen if this was the plan for the Glover Street home, one auction site — offering two tickets to one of four planned concerts — billed the event as being held at “the Access House, in Sag Harbor, overlooking the water,” a description fitting of the Glover Street residence.

Last weekend’s planned Ritchie concert was moved out of Sag Harbor just days before the Saturday event after village officials intervened. While the village was looking into the possibility of obtaining a temporary restraining order to shut down the 300-plus person event, Edward Burke, Jr., a Sag Harbor attorney representing the tenants of the Glover Street home, said ultimately his clients chose not to disrupt the neighborhood, moving the event to an undisclosed location.

That undisclosed location ended up reportedly being a Guyer Road, Bridgehampton residence, and while Ferraris said he did not know for a fact that the tenants of the Glover Street residence planned other events, he has been told it was their intention originally to do so.

The events of last week have moved the village towards something Ferraris said he never thought they would have to consider — creating a stricter mass gathering permit for events and considering a rental registry. The village board of trustees began a brief discussion of the concept during their regular board meeting on Tuesday, July 8.

“I think it is becoming somewhat of an epidemic in the communities surrounding Sag Harbor,” said Ferraris on Wednesday. “And we did not expect it to be an issue because of the size of houses and the size of lots in the village.”

Ferraris said this was a matter of protecting the “quality of life” of village residents.

There are a number of sponsor or branding houses throughout East Hampton and Southampton Town, many of which host events on the weekend promoting different brands as the “sponsor” of the party, and featuring the goods in either the bar or food menu, or in gift bags handed out to the party-hopping elite. The Estate is a Noyac Path, Noyac — although billed as a Sag Harbor estate — residence that has played host to a number of events in the last couple of years. The Social Life Estate and the Hennessey House are other sponsor homes, located in Water Mill. The Grey Goose Manor is an East Hampton estate. All the venues advertised parties throughout the July Fourth holiday weekend with various corporate sponsorships behind them.

During Tuesday’s meeting, Trustee Tiffany Scarlato said she was in the process of looking at different municipalities and what they have done with their mass gathering permits, although she said Sag Harbor’s would need to be tailored to suit the village’s needs.

On Wednesday, Scarlato, who is an assistant attorney for the Town of East Hampton, said that municipality has had its own issues with sponsor houses, and has considered putting a cap on the number of mass gathering permits that can be issued in a calendar year per residence. Scarlato said she expected that is where Sag Harbor’s own legislation will start. Trustee and police approval may also be a part of the legislation, said Scarlato.

In North Haven, its board of trustees beefed up their standards for mass gatherings last year, after a couple of residences hosted a number of summer events and fundraisers. Each residence can only receive one mass gathering permit a summer season. A mass gathering is defined under North Haven Village law as one that hosts 50 people or more and is not a family event like a wedding or funeral held by the owner of a property.

“I think in Sag Harbor it is something that really won’t affect 95 percent of people who live in the village, but it is something we will put forth for those individuals who will take advantage and extend residences into commercial ventures,” said Ferraris.

He said the village was also looking at North Haven’s rental registry law.

“We certainly don’t want to burden people, but we have to have all our bases covered,” said Ferraris.

Above: The house at 53 Glover Street where village officials feared a Lionel Ritchie concert would be held over Fourth of July weekend. (michael heller photo)

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