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Maine Maid Inn in Jericho should lose landmark status, civic group says

A civic group is seeking to take away

A civic group is seeking to take away landmark status from the former Maine Maid Inn, seen here on Sept. 26, 2017. Credit: Howard Schnapp

If the owner of the landmarked Maine Maid Inn in Jericho doesn’t take steps to preserve the structure, it should lose its landmark status, the head of the civic group that pushed to save it said.

“My civic association unanimously has instructed me as the president to work on de-landmarking it because as my civic association says . . . it’s all been lost and the town is not doing anything about it,” East Norwich Civic Association President Matthew Meng said. Some association members object to the owner receiving tax breaks for a landmarked building that has lost so much of its historical details, Meng said.

Meng said Jericho-based Scotto Brothers has failed to adhere to a stipulation agreed to in 2015 in New York State Supreme Court requiring the company to take steps to maintain the look of the inn’s historical facades. Some of those steps include using period colors and inventorying and saving original materials on the facades.

The former Colonial farmhouse at 4 Old Jericho Tpke. was built in 1789 and owned by Valentine Hicks, a Quaker.

The building received landmark status from the town board in 2012. Oyster Bay Town code requires that exterior work on landmarked buildings receive approval from the Landmark Preservation Commission. The structure was partially demolished in 2015 without review by the commission. A renovation and expansion appears to have doubled the size of the building.

A website for the restaurant planned to open on the site cites the “contemporary, flowing architecture” and describes it as “a completely re-imagined North Shore mansion.”

Scotto Brothers, a restaurant and catering business that bought the property in 2014, did not respond to requests for comment.

Meng said he has repeatedly contacted Oyster Bay Supervisor Joseph Saladino’s office, asking him to take action to preserve the building, but has had no response.

“The preservation of the Valentine Hicks House (Maine Maid Inn) is a matter of great importance,” the association’s Amityville-based attorney, Richard Handler, wrote in an Oct. 10 letter to Saladino. Although the building has undergone major renovations, several parts of it are intact and “the overwhelming ‘sense of place’ still exists and commands that due recognition and care of the site be given,” Handler wrote.

Oyster Bay spokeswoman Marta Kane said the building has no outstanding code violations and was issued its certificate of occupancy by the building department earlier this month. Deputy Town Attorney Matthew Rozea said the town wasn’t obligated to enforce the stipulation and, even so, wasn’t aware of any violations of it. Kane said the owners will return before the commission for approval regarding signage in the future.

John Collins, a commission member and president of the Raynham Hall Museum in Oyster Bay, who was a vocal critic of the Scotto Brothers’ Maine Maid Inn renovation, said he would like to see the landmarks law strengthened.

“What’s the purpose of the landmark law if it can be undone?” Collins said.

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