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Corner Restaurant Owner Threatens Lawsuit

Micky Biss, the owner of the vacant Corner Restaurant, says he has a "good mind to commence legal action against the village."

The owner of the Corner Restaurant in Westhampton Beach says that if the trustees and mayor of Westhampton Beach don't "come to their senses and do the right thing by law and for the residents of the village," he will commence a lawsuit.

Micky Biss, who splits his time between Westhampton Beach and Miami, made the statement on Thursday — a day after he met with Trustee Hank Tucker and Paul Houlihan, the village's building and zoning administrator.

The meeting was a spill over from the trustees' July 16 work session in which Biss argued that a pre-existing site plan, which was approved before he took ownership of the the corner restaurant, is preventing him from developing the property as a restaurant. He says that under law, the site plan is tied to the previous owner, not the property and said that the site plan is not finically feasible. 

Trustees, meanwhile, urged Biss to submit a new site plan to remedy the issue and it appeared that Biss was open to the idea.

Then, on Thursday, Biss claimed that Houlihan became "incensed" during the discussion and "stormed out of the room" after he asked "that the Village not impose hardships on the property," which he said are not required under the code.

"The village is denying my property rights and, in effect, as a matter of law, engaging in a taking of my property without compensation," said Biss. "I have become infuriated enough that I will take whatever actions that I need appropriate, including the possibility of filing a lawsuit."

Houlihan, however, said that during the meeting, he attempted to explain to Biss that he has options, including finishing the existing site plan, which Houlihan says engineers have estimated to cost about $80,000; submit a new site plan, which is in compliance with village regulations; or ask the planning board for a waiver, which the board may or may not grant.

According to Houlihan, the site plan has been in affect since 2005 and Biss knew about it prior to purchasing the property. The previous owner of the property, said Houlihan, was given a year to complete the site plan, but closed and shut down his business before the remaining work, including landscaping, paving and drainage, was completed.

A new ingress and egress is also required in the site plan, which Houlihan says is very important for safety.

"I am as anxious as anybody to have a restaurant go in there, the site plan just has to be completed," said Houlihan, adding that if there is a question of legality, it should be directed to the planning board. 

"I am just the building inspector," said Houlihan.

Trustee Tucker said he too would love to see the Corner Restaurant cleaned up and developed as one of the entrances to the community and said the trustees will do whatever they can in their power to help any business owner, "as long as he follows our code and laws."

Biss said he hopes Tucker follows through.

"This will all be determined in the coming weeks," said Biss. "It would be a double loss for the residents and taxpayers in Westhampton Beach if the mayor and the trustees continue to violate my property rights by fabricating hardships on this property."

What would you do if you were Biss? The village? Post your thoughts in the comment section below. 

Irina Richardson July 23, 2012 at 06:55 PM
I happen to live very near that property and anything the village can do to make that intersection and area safer would be greatly appreciated. Many commercial buildings in the area were approved way before the traffic was what it has become and it is quite dangerous to drive through there.

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