The Southampton Town Board on Tuesday agreed to file a lawsuit against a gunite plant that has been operating illegally behind Country Gardens on Snake Hollow Road in Bridgehampton.
According to Councilman Dan Russo, the plant was built without the required special exception use permit despite the issuance of a stop-work order some time ago. Mr. Russo said that he doubts the plant can even meet the standards for such a permit because the property is too small and is surrounded by houses.
The 5.5-acre property is in a light industrial zoning district, and was once used as a fertilizer manufacturing facility. East End Gunite & Supply, which built the gunite plant, is owned by David Schiavoni. The company’s attorney, Mike Walsh, told the Planning Board on May 8 that manufacturing gunite is a far less dangerous process than making fertilizer.
“Fertilizer is made of potash, phosphorus and nitrogen. It’s highly explosive,” said Mr. Walsh, who added that the first fertilizer plant was built on the site in 1938, though it was “operating minimally” over the past 10 to 15 years.
Country Gardens, which still carries Agway products, currently owns the site, after the national company sold the property in 2000.
Planning Board member Jacqui Lofaro, who regularly shops at the garden center, said that most of the buildings on the site that may have once housed fertilizer now contain gardening supplies.
Mr. Walsh said that gunite is produced in much the same way as concrete, with limestone, cement and gravel poured into cement mixers, which then carry the gunite supplies to houses where pools are being built.
Mr. Walsh also added that a gunite plant on the East End would curtail traffic from western Long Island, where most of the gunite used in the East End’s swimming pools is currently manufactured.
Members of the Planning Board said they were concerned that the facility would be in the middle of a residential area, though Mr. Walsh said that the gunite plant would be a “much more low-profile operation” than the former fertilizer plant, with quiet equipment and a significant buffer at the property line.
The Planning Board decided the application was incomplete because it lacked information about the property’s historic use to manufacture fertilizer.
The Wild Rose Cafe on the Bridgehampton-Sag Harbor Turnpike has a new owner, though the rickety building currently doesn’t even have four walls.
Bruce Buschel, a writer and stage producer in Bridgehampton who serves on the board of East Hampton’s EECO Farm, purchased the property from Dean Golden in January and he plans to open a seafood restaurant there.
Before that can be done, though, Mr. Buschel will need expedited review from the Planning Board for facade changes that the board had already chastised Mr. Golden for undertaking overzealously.
Late last year, when Mr. Golden began to renovate the building, he found severe rot in the walls and foundation and removed much of the first story of the building, leaving its frame exposed to the elements while waiting for the Planning Board to approve work that the town’s Building Department had refused to allow to continue last year.
Mr. Buschel, whose company Wild Roes Inc. has inherited Mr. Golden’s troubles, said that he planned to build a restaurant because it was something his heart told him to do.
“I wish I could have quashed the whole idea,” he said, adding that he wanted to create a relaxed dining environment with “straight honest food” from local sources.
Since the Wild Rose closed about five years ago, the spot had been a late night club called Boutique.
“It wasn’t my cup of vodka,” said Mr. Buschel of the nightclub. He told the Planning Board on May 8 that he is willing to operate the restaurant without permission to use the building as a nightclub.
“I really wish I didn’t have to do this but I am,” said Mr. Buschel, coyly of his decision to start a restaurant without any prior experience in the business. “I don’t think it takes a particular genius to start a restaurant. It takes a lot of hard work, clarity, perspicacity and dedication. You have to know a little bit about business and a lot about people, produce and atmosphere.”
The Planning Board also approved a 180-seat restaurant at a County Road 39 property owned by Leland Lane, LLC on May 8. The national restaurant chain Outback Steakhouse had applied for a liquor license at the site last September, though the restaurant’s representatives at its regional headquarters in Southampton Village did not confirm this week whether they are planning to open at that site. Leland Lane had previously received approval for a 76-seat restaurant in the building which was constructed last year, but representatives said they were expanding the restaurant use to lure prospective tenants. The property owners have also not confirmed who those tenants may be.
The pre-application report for a nine-lot subdivision known as Mill Creek Heights on Noyac Road was also approved on May 8.