Rumba Taking Preliminary Steps To Update Septic System

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Progress continues in an effort to bring a highly scrutinized Hampton Bays restaurant into full compliance with town codes, although the saga likely remains several months away from closure.

Testing began last Wednesday, December 18, on the leaching pools of the septic system at Rumba Rum Bar, one of the final steps to be taken before the outdated, bayside system can be replaced, the property owner said this week,

Ron Arcate, an attorney representing the owners of the Canoe Place Road property where Rumba operates, said contents of the leaching pools were gathered so they could be tested to determine how effective the current units are. The testing will take place at a private lab, and the results will eventually be sent to Suffolk County. Mr. Arcate said he did not know the name of the lab or where it is located.

Bradley’s Fishing Station LLC, the listed owner of the property where the small but popular restaurant has operated from since 2011, has been working with the Suffolk County Department of Health and Human Services to get permission to upgrade the facility’s septic system for more than a year, according to Mr. Arcate. His family is among the partners behind Bradley’s Fishing Station.

Despite the work being done by the property owners, the septic tank will not be replaced by the end of the year, as David Gilmartin, another attorney representing Bradley’s Fishing Station, projected in September. Plans call for replacing the current septic ring system with an updated version.

“Next week is the holidays, so that will push things off for a while,” Mr. Arcate. “I’ll have a better idea [of when the process will be done] right after the New Year.”

Rumba, which is currently closed for renovations and will reopen in January, has been the recipient of frequent complaints from neighbors for hosting live music, congesting traffic with delivery trucks stopping in front of the restaurant, attracting patrons who spill out into Canoe Place Road and pumping out its 20-year-old septic system weekly during the summer months. In 2012, problems with the septic system caused a portion of the restaurant’s driveway to collapse.

Neighbors and Southampton Town officials point to the number of customers the restaurant draws—which frequently exceeds the 110-person limit set in its code of occupancy—as the source of many of its issues, both septic and otherwise.

The restaurant has long been spared from legal action by the town because of a formerly active application before the Southampton Town Zoning Board of Appeals, which shielded the property from parking- and occupancy-related citations as the landlords and the restaurant owner, David Hersh, sought variances to address those reoccurring issues.

However, both those appeals were withdrawn in September after the restaurant received additional parking credits, as well as 42 additional outdoor seats, solving its two biggest issues with the town. During that same meeting before the zoning board, Mr. Gilmartin said the septic could be installed as soon as November and he requested a variance allowing the installation of a handicap accessible ramp with a guardrail on the front of the building. Neither point has been put to rest, however.

ZBA Vice President Adam Grossman said Bradley’s Fishing Station has to resolve an issue with the town’s Highway Department before a ruling can be made about granting a setback variance, namely removing the building’s front porch and patio that now extends 11 feet into the town’s right of way.

Highway Superintendent Alex Gregor said he has been working with the owners since Mr. Gilmartin pointed out to him that the restaurant was substantially encroaching on the public right of way in late August. Once the current stonework and shrubbery are gone, Mr. Gregor said he would allow for two feet of encroachment for the handicap ramp both so the building could adhere to the Americans with Disabilities Act and also to prevent people from congregating in front of the restaurant’s facade.

“We don’t want the stone wall there or the obstruction like that,” Mr. Gregor said, referring to the restaurant’s front steps and foliage. “We don’t want people milling about in front of Rumba’s waiting for a ride or for a taxi or for the Rum Bus.”

Due to a lack of parking space next to the restaurant, Rumba leases a lot in the area and buses its customers to and from the Canoe Place Road facility.

Mr. Gregor expects that work to be completed by March or April, and he’s hopeful that this will alleviate some of the problems neighbors have with the Caribbean-theme restaurant.

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