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Judge sides with East Hampton on zoning case involving day camp

A State Supreme Court judge granted an injunction

A State Supreme Court judge granted an injunction on Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2017, against Nassau Democratic Chairman Jay Jacobs, the owner of this single-family East Hampton house in which 26 summer day camp counselors were living in 2015. Credit: Doug Kuntz

A state Supreme Court judge on Tuesday dismissed a challenge to the constitutionality of East Hampton Town zoning restrictions at a property that Nassau Democratic Chairman Jay Jacobs used to house more than two dozen camp counselors.

Justice W. Gerard Asher granted the town’s motion for a preliminary injunction and denied day camp operator HCDC LLC, the Hampton Country Day Camp, in which Jacobs is a main shareholder and managing partner, its motion to dismiss.

“This decision upholds the Town’s Zoning Code and protects the integrity of our single-family neighborhoods,” East Hampton Supervisor Larry Cantwell said in a news release issued Tuesday. “The Court found that there were ‘enhanced risks to the health, safety, and welfare of occupants and nearby residents in the event such violations were to continue.’ ”

Cantwell added that the court’s finding illustrates the necessity for the “strong provisions” in the local zoning code.

Jacobs could not be reached Tuesday for comment.

In August 2015, the town executed a search warrant at 17 Ocean Blvd., a single-family residence, and found 26 camp counselors living there. Building inspectors and code enforcement officers also discovered four illegally converted bedrooms that authorities said were overcrowded and lacked appropriate means of egress in the event of an emergency, according to the news release. In addition, they said three bathrooms were added to the residence without permits or health department approvals, and that numerous other building, health and sanitary code violations were found.

Jacobs told Newsday after the search that the house was zoned for camp use and that most of the 61 charges were unfounded or exaggerated.

Asher issued a temporary restraining order requiring a portion of the house to be closed off. Jacobs said he removed some people from the property, but HCDC LLC sought a motion to dismiss the injunction on the basis that limits on the number of unrelated individuals occupying a single-family house were unconstitutional.

“The Town is satisfied that the Court recognized — and put a stop to — the inherent danger to the community and the deleterious effect that having 26 camp counselors living in a single-family residence can have on a neighborhood,” Cantwell said.

Trial on the alleged code violations is scheduled to begin Jan. 31 in East Hampton Town Justice Court.

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