Westhampton Beach deputy mayor linked to illegal bed-and-breakfast

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The deputy mayor of Westhampton Beach Village and his wife appear to have been operating a bed-and-breakfast at their Oak Street home for at least the last several years without the required permit, according to at least two B&B websites that have advertised the couple’s residence.

Neither Deputy Mayor Jim Kametler, who is up for re-election in June, nor his wife, Carol Meyer, returned numerous calls seeking comment over the last two weeks.

Mr. Kametler and Ms. Meyer have listed their Oak Street home—located within walking distance of Village Hall and the Westhampton Beach Police Department—on at least two different bed-and-breakfast websites. One of the links, which was altered about three weeks ago, advertised the “Westhampton Beach Bed & Bath” and gave the couple’s street address. The original link also listed James Kametler as the contact and provided a phone number and e-mail address.

The Oak Street address has been owned by Ms. Meyer since 1993, according to village documents.

Westhampton Beach Village Mayor Conrad Teller, who is up for re-election next month on the same ticket as Mr. Kametler, said it was “quite shocking” to learn that his fellow trustee was, at one point, operating a bed-and-breakfast without the required permit.

“I don’t ask of those things,” Mayor Teller said. “I know of a couple of bed-and-breakfasts in the village. I don’t know if they’re licensed or not. But if they have a bed-and-breakfast, they’re supposed to get a permit.”

Paul Houlihan, the building administrator for Westhampton Beach Village, stated that neither Mr. Kametler nor Ms. Meyer possesses a permit from the village to operate a bed-and-breakfast inn at the address, a requirement of the village code. Mr. Houlihan, who said that the village has not received any complaints about the business, added that the couple does not have any pending permit applications before the village to operate such a business.

In addition to paying the village a $100 fee each year for the required permit, the operators of bed-and-breakfasts must ensure that their facilities comply with village code requirements, such as having smoke detectors in every room and clearly marked emergency exits. Mr. Houlihan noted that Randy Dean, the owner of South Winds Bed and Breakfast in Westhampton Beach, had to install a residential sprinkler system in his bed-and-breakfast to adhere to the code.

The owners of bed-and-breakfasts must also register with the Suffolk County Treasurer’s Office, as they need a certificate of registration from the county in order to run such an establishment.

The allegation against Mr. Kametler and Ms. Meyer came to light through a posting made about four weeks ago on a local blog, the “On the Beach Blog,” maintained and updated by lifelong village resident Dean Speir. The blog stated that Mr. Kametler has been operating a business called the “Westhampton Beach Bed and Breakfast” without the required permits for several years.

Mr. Speir explained that he was alerted to the business after receiving documentation from New York Civil Court from an anonymous source. His blog provided direct links—which now no longer work—to the two websites that advertised the Oak Street home.

The altered listing on the Greater New York Chamber of Commerce website now advertises “reasonably priced” rentals in the Hamptons, upstate New York and along the Gulf Coast of Florida. The company now featured on the updated site, PBC-Vacation Rentals, lists the same phone number that appeared next to Mr. Kametler’s name on the earlier advertisement. The company also has a post office box in Westhampton Beach.

The second website, Innsite.com, is an internet directory of bed-and-breakfasts, and it also listed the Oak Street address. That website described the Westhampton Beach Bed and Breakfast as a “home stay located in the heart of the Village of Westhampton Beach.” The posting also noted that visitors will have access to “the west wing of their folk Victorian.” The sites note that three bedrooms are available, capable of accommodating up to five adults.

The listing also stated that the Westhampton Beach Bed and Breakfast has been open since 1992, and that the room prices range from $125 to $425 per night.

A third website, tripadvisor.com, lists a comment that Ms. Meyer apparently posted on November 10, 2007, in response to a question from someone who was asking about hotels that are located near Atlantica on Dune Road in Westhampton Beach. On the site, Ms. Meyer provided the street address and wrote: “I have a B&B in Westhampton Beach, seconds from Atlantica … It is private. I can accommodate up to 5 people. Give me a call for more details & other places to stay in WHB.” She signed her name Carol Meyer and also posted her phone number—the same number listed on the other two websites advertising the Oak Street property.

Helana Natt, the executive director of the Greater New York Chamber of Commerce, confirmed that Mr. Kametler and Ms. Meyer have been members of the chamber for more then a year and changed the listing for the Westhampton Beach Bed and Bath to PBC-Vacation Rentals.

“They did a change of address, as they had their home address instead of a P.O. box,” Ms. Natt said. “A lot of companies do that.”

Ms. Natt could not give specific dates for any of the changes to the Chamber posting.

Mr. Houlihan, the village’s building administrator, said he is “going to keep an eye” on the Oak Street property in the future.

He explained that owners of bed-and-breakfasts can lease up to five bedrooms to guests, and cannot have more than 10 people staying in their homes at any one time, not counting family members who reside there.

“For example, if you have a seven-bedroom house, and two are used by the family, the other five qualify for use as a bed-and-breakfast,” Mr. Houlihan said. “This is common all over the East End.”

Loren Houghton, the executive director of finance for the county’s Treasurer’s Office, stated that the operators of bed-and-breakfasts must also pay a tax that amounts to 75 cents on every $100 that they collect on each room. The owners must add the tax on their billing forms for their guests and then pay the county what it is owed every three months.

“The money we collect from the bed-and-breakfasts goes to cover the cost of tourism promotion, as well as parks and cultural events in Suffolk County,” Mr. Houghton said.

He noted that the county has no record of a bed-and-breakfast operating at the Oak Street address, as no permit has been issue and no B&B taxes have been paid on the property.

The operation of a bed-and-breakfast also affects the assessment of a house. Though calls to the Southampton Town assessor’s office were not returned, Mr. Houghton stated that single-family homes have a different assessment class code than the codes for hotels, motels and bed-and-breakfasts.

There are more than 300 hotel, motel and bed-and-breakfast establishments registered with the Suffolk County treasurer’s office, Mr. Houghton said. He added that his office often utilizes the internet to keep tabs on bed-and-breakfasts. He noted that, in the past, the owners of unregistered businesses have withdrawn web postings in order to avoid paying the required taxes.

As of earlier this month, Mr. Houlihan said that there are only two bed-and-breakfasts in Westhampton Beach that are registered with the village—the 1880 Seafield House on Seafield Lane, owned by Elsie Collins, and Mr. Dean’s South Winds Bed and Breakfast on Potunk Lane.

Ms. Collins, a retired teacher, said she opened her bed-and-breakfast in the early 1990s because she “happened to have an old house and had the empty nest syndrome.” She declined to comment on the situation involving Mr. Kametler.

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