Whatever happened to <EM>Caveat Emptor</EM>?

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Whatever happened to Caveat Emptor?

Real estate speculator/developer Micky Biss, who owns the Montauk Highway frontage from Oak Street to Lilac Road, is mad at the Village in which he resides part-time be­cause, in his words, reported by Erin McKinley on 27East:

"There is an attitude that is pervasive here that has, in many ways, hindered business in the village. Every po­tential tenant who I knew that had the financial backing to survive in that location all said 'no thanks' after talking to the village."

The specific property at issue contains The Corner Restau­rant (neé Chappy's Corner), and is located at a key inter­section in the Village.

Welcome to Westhampton Beach

Coming off at Sunrise 63S, after passing the demised Finn McCool's on one side of Old Riverhead Road and what's left of the former Rubio complex on the other, when new visitors come to the traffic light at Montauk and see the condition of the SouthWest corner... cheap "for sale" signs1 in the windows, weeds growing through cracks in the sidewalk... turning left and heading East seems a better option.

When he brought the property out of forclosure a little over two years ago, there were fond hopes that new owner Biss was going to get that highway frontage squared away to again be used and useful.

He did find a tenant for the former Johnny Chih's building, and after several false starts, they finished remodeling and opened for business one year ago.

But the larger parcel?

In short, it's a disgrace... yet he's blaming Village govern­ment for his inability to lease that corner!

Apparently he either didn't take the time to find out what sort of problems ran with the property before he acquired it, or he didn't have clue the first about land use matters.

From some of his remarks quoted by Ms. McKinley, it's a bit of the one and a whole lot of the latter:

"There is no legal basis to tie the legal owner of a property to a site plan from the previous owner. I know my land use and, for some reason, the village feels that I must be bound to his site plan."

"For some reason?" Really?

(How 'bout 'cause it's The Law, so he can't possibly "know" as much about land use as he thinks.)

It's elementary that Planning and Zoning as a matter of law "run with the land," no matter the owner.

And then there's this:

"There is an attitude that is pervasive here that has, in many ways, hindered business in the village."

Mr. Biss' ear seems to have been bent by, O, say, Elyse Richman, Simon Jorna and Andrew Mendelson.

The lengthy and contentious exchange between the property owner and the Village Board seems to have concluded on an upbeat note, however, as his Parthian shot is reported as:

"For me, this has been a very positive, rewarding even­ing. Everyone now knows the basic issues here and we will continue to talk and see whether or not, under these conditions, there can be a new site plan."

Good thinking, sir.

  1. What, one sign wouldn't do it?


1. Elyse Richman said...

Please stop associating my name with the negative; I have been in business for over 27 years on Main Street. I have started with one store and have been very lucky to be able to stay and grow my businesses. I support anyone that wants to try to open in Westhampton Beach... good luck to them. Shock is a draw to Westhampton Beach as are all the businesses that are here, and it shouldn't be so hard, but what doesn't kill you makes you stronger so please do not associate Shock with the negative side. If you didn't know already I'm here to stay.


Yes, dear Elyse, we know you're "here to stay," and more power to that... you've lasted through economic downturns and avaricious landlords.

But it is you by your actions who choose to "associate Shock with the negative side." I often wonder if it's all in service to the adage that "Any publicity is good publicity," and if when you were a little girl in T-straps and Little Lulu undershirts, someone told you "No!" and you made a Scarlett O'Hara-esque vow to never let that happen again.

Look to thyself, Madame!

2. Hampton West said...

Had some decent meals there years ago - I was under the impression there was an illegal residence there that did not comply with zoning laws - is that the issue?

The quarters upstairs have nothing to do with anything. The issue then, as now, has to do the failure to comply with its own site plan. It's not going to get a Certificate of Occupancy until it either complies, or makes application for a new site plan. The parking lot is a key element, as I recall.

My wife loved the hamburgers there, so we were regulars.

3. Seeker said...

Recent trend in this Village seems to be "laws, LAWS? I don't need no stinkin' laws!" This attitude is exhibited by pompous developers, asinine Board trustees, greedy second home owners, avaricious attorneys and me-first business owners. Really makes one wonder about the fate of this little Village.

Meeee toooo!

4. Nutbeem said...

They need a rubber stamp at Village Hall with the words, you knew this wouldn't fly when you bought the land. what makes you think it changed overnight all by itself?

I suggest red ink.

There ya go!
– Dean

5. Wingman said...

I think the real issue is the fact that the Village choose to ignore its law when it looked the other way when a new restaurant operated by Mickey Chi{sic} opened up after Dora's closed. Why was that allowed to operate without making any site plan improvements? All the elected officials cared about was placing their campaign signs on the property. Shame on Mayor Teller. Now he acts like he is defending the Village laws, but certainly turned a blind eye to the Chi{sic} family's violations! Can't the Village come up with some kind of bond that the new owner could post guaranteeing that site improvements would be undertaken with three years but allowing some cosmetic improvements now. This way everyone does not have to look at that awful eyesore until the economy improves!

I find it strange that the Blogger takes such offense to an ice cream cone sign on Main Street but is willing to ignore a derelict property at the entrance to the Village!

Someone needs to review exactly to what "the Blogger" might have taken "offense!"

But let's look at what you think is "the real issue."

The Village did not "look the other way" when the Chihs took over the former Dora's... and that was during the previous, Strebel, administration.

What the Village did do was allow the Chihs to operate while they took steps to come into compliance with the approved Site Plan before it expired in September 2006.

The Chihs were open about a year, but took no steps to address their defects (paving the parking lot and landscaping) and complete the Site Plan. Instead, in August 2006 they opted to close down and quietly blame the municipality.

Perceptions and facts often (unintentionally) differ. One of my hard and fast precepts is to always challenge my perceptions. It's an excellent principle to stick to when "the blogger" does what he does.

So, please get back to me about that "ice cream cone sign" matter.
– Dean

6. Jeanne Speir said...

Measured, solid, informed and intelligent response, dear.

For the record, to me, that ice cream cone was cool art... it was stolen and that's the bigger crime. I'd rather have that than the monster cupcake using up a coveted parking spot.

I wish someone would nail the guilty purloiners. Wassup, officers?

I like the hand chair, too.

Hi Elyse. And we certainly don't view you in the negative. You are a great all round human.

  1. Someone whose opinion I value told me I needed to be nicer to Commenters... I'm trying, I'm trying.
  2. I have no problem with the giant ice cream cone, but under the Code definitions, it was a sign. The cupcake mobile is simply grotesque.
  3. The actual crime-solving rate in the Village is not very high... even with video cameras all around.
  4. Ahhhhhhh, shades of "Felix Unger!" The notorious hand chair.
  5. [sigh!]

7. Wingman said...

So, you confirm that the Village let Mickey Chih open the restaurant and gave him a certain time period to complete the site plan. Why can't they give the ?? Wasn't Conrad Teller also part of the Strebel administration during that time when he and his close political ally Jim Kammetler were Trustees. For the next three Village elections the First Hampton party's campaign signs were prominently on display at the restaurant! Also, the same Building Inspecter was there. I'm glad to see that your wife recognizes that Elyse has managed to operate three businesses on Main Street for many years. That's an enormous accomplishment. Also I agree with your wife that the ice cream was cool art and no different from the statues in front of the establishment at the corner of Montauk Highway and Sunset Avenue that were there for years!

[sigh again.]

You really need to brush up on Land Use. There is a time frame for completion of an adopted Site Plan. The Chihs had until September 2006 to complete the work, but elected not to and went dark just before the "expiration date." Yes, "the Village let Mickey Chih open the restaurant," and that was by Code. It wasn't any sort of preferential treatment even though young Chih had been a member of the Planning Board ten years ago, so if he showed up at meetings and stayed awake, he knew what the ground rules were... and continue to be. He wasn't "given" anything more, or less, than anyone else in that circumstance.

Can the "new owner [get] the same deal?" Absolutely! And if you were paying attention, you'd know was told that... apply for a new Site Plan! Otherwise, he's stuck with the existing one.

Calling Con Teller and Jimmy Kametler "close political allies" means you weren't paying attention. Yeah, the Mayor called in a favor with a fellow Marine and kept a former cop out of jail five years ago, but Kametler turned on him like a rabid 'possum shortly after that.

As for the rest of it, you have a bunch of "facts" and "perceptions" which you've assembled and are throwing out for some (anger-driven?) purpose. Take some time, collect your thoughts and tell us what's behind all this.

I really do appreciate your airing out your thoughts, however off-kilter some of them are... most in the Village just stew in silence and gripe across the back fence to their neighbors.

O, and we do have differing tastes in "art."
– Dean

8. Seeker said...

Elyse has had illegal sign problems of one sort or another for years – culminating in that giant ice cream cone (which really looked like a pile of pastel colored human organs on a sugar cone to me). The guy up on the highway has a retail store that sells statues, amongst other decorative things, and that is a marked difference. Everyone appreciates that Elyse runs three businesses on Main Street, but as a long-time business woman, she ought to know the Village's Code well enough to stop ignoring it.

I haven't even seen "the guy up on the highway" open for business for years, but Elyse consciously ignores the Village codes as she views them as interfering with her business. (I haven't figured out yet whether she's a Libertarian or a true Anarchist.) She's defiant until she gets into court, and then it's lower lip-quivering time, something I've personally seen.
– Dean

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