The Dimon Estate, formerly the Jamesport Manor Inn, on Manor Lane in Jamesport. Photo: Denise Civiletti

The owners of the Dimon Estate — formerly known as Jamesport Manor Inn — are seeking a special permit from the Town Board to build a 6,045-square-foot dining/catering room addition to their existing restaurant on Manor Lane in Jamesport, with a covered patio and patio areas, 53 proposed parking stalls and 21 proposed land-banked parking stalls.

The special permit application has been scheduled for a public hearing before the Town Board on April 4 at 2 p.m.

The town has been in and out of court with the property owner for years over use of the restaurant site for catering events.

MORE COVERAGE: ZBA again denies Jamesport restaurant’s bid to build a barn to accommodate catered events

Most recently, the conflict continued in a pair of lawsuits — one brought by the town in 2021 to enforce its noise ordinance and the other brought by the property owner seeking to annul an April 2022 Zoning Board of Appeals decision.

Both lawsuits have been held in abeyance since last August pursuant to a stipulation “to allow the parties time to explore settlement, including any agreed-to land use applications by Kar-McVeigh made for the purpose of obtaining the approvals that the Town and the ZBA have contended are required for a catering operation to be carried on in a separate building or tent” at the site.

The Town Board has not discussed the special permit application or authorized a settlement agreement during a public session prior to scheduling the April 4 public hearing.

There is a pre-existing restaurant use on the site that doesn’t conform to current zoning. Issues in contention have included whether catering is a type of restaurant use, whether catering must be confined within the restaurant building, and whether the use of temporary tents or the construction of a barn for catered events would constitute the expansion of a pre-existing, nonconforming use.

In 2021, Riverhead sought a preliminary injunction to prevent catered outdoor events at the restaurant during the trial of its action, to seek a permanent ban on such events at the site. Outdoor events with amplified music have drawn persistent noise complaints from nearby residents.

A State Supreme Court judge last May refused to impose a preliminary injunction against outdoor events, outdoor catering and the use of tents at the Dimon Estate in Jamesport. The court also declined to restrict the use of “sound reproduction devices” in a manner to cause ‘unreasonable noise,’ though it did grant a preliminary injunction against future violations of the town’s noise ordinance by the defendant for the duration of the lawsuit. The court’s May 4, 2022 order also denied property owner Kar-McVeigh’s motion to dismiss the case, ruling that the action can proceed to trial. Kar-McVeigh filed a notice of appeal.

On May 24 last year, Kar-McVeigh LLC brought an Article 78 petition in State Supreme Court in Nassau County asking the court to set aside the April 2022 ZBA determination that the addition of structures such as a tent or a barn for catering uses, would constitute an expansion of the nonconforming restaurant use,” and required a Town Board special permit before the Planning Board could review a site plan application.

Kar-McVeigh’s attorneys, according to court documents, brought the action in Nassau County because one of the four ZBA members who voted in favor of the April 2022 determination, Ralph T. Gazzillo, is a former acting justice of the Supreme Court in Suffolk County. Gazzillo served in that position from 1997 to 2016.

Kar-McVeigh designated Nassau County as the venue of this special proceeding to address concerns that a current Suffolk County Supreme Court Justice might feel some obligation to defer to a former colleague, Kar-McVeigh’s attorney Linda Margolin said in an affirmation opposing a motion to change venue filed by the town’s outside counsel handling the litigation, Daniel Barker of Smith Finkelstein Lundberg Isler and Yakaboski. The town sought to change the venue of the action to Suffolk County.

Before the court ruled on the town’s motion to change venue, the parties entered the “standstill” stipulation, putting a hold on all proceedings pending settlement negotiations.

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