The owners of property slated for development into condominiums along Sag Harbor’s waterfront have filed a notice of claim over the village’s removal last summer of a dilapidated dock there.
By Stephen J. Kotz
The would-be developer of condominiums on the Sag Harbor waterfront has filed a notice of claim in New York State Supreme Court against the village for ordering the removal of a dilapidated dock at the site in August.
The claim was filed by attorney Tiffany Scarlato on October 10 on behalf of three limited liability corporations, East End Ventures I, II, and III, whose principals are Michael Maidan and Emil Talel.
A notice of claim is not a lawsuit but it acts to protect one’s right to file suit at a later date. The claim filed against the village says the owners will seek “to recover attendant damages, together with declaratory and/or injunctive relief” for the removal of the dock, which was once part of the Remkus Fishing Station.
Just last week, Ms. Scarlato appeared before the village Planning Board to present a new plan to build eight condominiums in four separate buildings at the site.
Ms. Scarlato said on Tuesday the village violated her clients’ right to due process by ordering the structure removed without holding a hearing. “In Southampton, we go through a whole public hearing process,” she added. Ms. Scarlato is also the Southampton Town attorney.
There is an ongoing dispute between the village and the developers over a portion of the property slated for development, with East End Ventures saying they purchased it from the Metropolitan Transit Authority and the village continuing to claim a portion of it.
“My client owns the property, and the village removed the dock without our permission,” said Ms. Scarlato. “We have deeds, we have title insurance, we own the property.”
Mayor Brian Gilbride disagreed. “The bottom lime that dock was on village property,” he said on Tuesday. “If you start researching this a little further, you’ll find they have made claims to property they don’t own.”
“That corner there is village property,” Mr. Gilbride said in a separate interview in September. “The old Remkus Fishing Station was built right in the middle of the old Route 114 back in the day. Everybody thought Remkus owned that beach because they had boats down there you could rent.”
Mr. Gilbride said a concern about the safety of the old dock was brought to the village’s attention by one of the village’s attorneys, Denise Schoen, who, the mayor said, saw a large group of adults on the old dock last summer.
“The village board decided it was a problem and we should act,” Mr. Gilbride said, noting that village officials were concerned that they would be liable if the dock were to collapse.
He said the village solicited three bids, and hired David Whelan Marine Construction to remove the structure.
The village’s attorney, Fred W. Thiele Jr., in September agreed that the village was well within its rights to remove the dock, “which everyone agrees was in total disrepair” and which the village believed was on its property.
“I know there is a disagreement as to whether or not the village owns the property,” Mr. Thiele said, adding that East End Ventures’ main concern was “if they have a vested right to have a dock in the future. There is nothing the village did in taking away the dock that would take away their right to have a dock there” provided the ownership dispute is settled in their favor, Mr. Thiele said.
It is not the first time that East End Ventures has found itself at legal loggerheads with the village. In 2009, when an earlier condo plan was derailed by a village-wide upzoning, the developers filed two suits against the village, one seeking to challenge village’s right to halt their application, and the other a civil rights suit that sought more than $30 million in damages. Both suits were dismissed.