Leaders of the Little Fresh Pond Association, a community group fighting a proposed day camp in North Sea, are asking the Southampton Town Zoning Board to Appeals to reopen a December decision to permit a new pool on the property and accusing the developer of misrepresenting and omitting facts.
But Jay Jacobs, the owner of the Majors Path parcel and the operator of a number of day camps, said Friday that he has done everything properly and he is the one being victimized by misrepresentations and, sometimes, outright lies.
The zoning board ruled Dec. 20, 2012, that the planned pool will not require a variance. The Little Fresh Pond Association asserts that Jacobs failed to disclose that a bathhouse would be needed to accompany the new pool, and surreptitiously began renovating a residential building into bathhouse before the application was approved.
In a letter to Zoning Board of Appeals Chairman Adam Grossman Thursday, the Little Fresh Pond Association leadership and attorney wrote that Jacobs' Southampton Day Camp Realty's "brazen attempt to subvert this board's lawful process must not be tolerated. SDCR failed to acknowledge its legal obligation to provide a bathhouse as part of its plans for its proposed pool, misled this board as to critical facts this board then relied upon in its decision, and covertly tried to convert a residential building into a bathhouse without lawful permission. Each one of these misdeeds provided compelling justification to vacate the decision."
Southampton Day Camp Realty was issued a stop work order on Dec. 18, 2012, after a neighbor reported renovation work going on at the property. According to a notice of violation from Southampton Town Code Enforcement, electrical, plumbing and framing work was being done without the necessary building permits.
But Jacobs said all of the work — such as mold remediation, replacing windows and fixing other damage from Superstorm Sandy, and making facilities Americans with Disabilities Act compliant — was minor and does not require a permit. He said code enforcement officers only issued a violation because of pressure from neighbors. “I don’t fault them,” he said.
Chief Town Investigator David Betts said that is not the case.
“Anytime your do framing, if it changes the structural elements of the building, it has to be inspected and you need a permit,” Betts said Friday, later adding,“I assure you that if my guy ordered stop work order, that there was sufficient work being done that needed a permit.”
The building that was being renovated is identified as Cottage #2. Jacobs said he did not hide the fact from the zoning board that another facility would complement the pool. "There isn’t a pool on a club or a camp that requires the members to go home to change and go back," he said.
Jacobs said that opponents of his proposed day camp did not simply look over the fence, see work being done, and file a complaint with code enforcement. “These neighbors have trespassed upon the property to see what we were doing," and sometimes misidentified themselves to his employees as agents of the town interested in buying the land for preservation, he said.
Jacobs said, at the heart of the dispute, neighbors want the zoning board to void the legal rights he has to a property he spent nearly $8 million on, simply because they are upset that a sleepy camp will become busy. He equated it to a restaurant with 200 parking spaces that goes from having a bad chef to a good chef. He said that neighbors have no basis to complain once the parking lot goes from mostly empty to full — the property owner has a right to have a successful business.
“I’m sorry they don’t like they fact that they bought homes in an area where a camp operated and a club operated that wasn’t very successful, and they want it to continue to be unsuccessful,” he said.
Opponents of the camp have stood by the position that the parcel was an abandoned tennis camp and that a day camp is not a valid pre-existing use, and that intensified use of the parcel will be a threat to the ecological health of Little Fresh Pond.
- RELATED: Letter to the Editor: Proposed Camp Threatens Fragile Ecosystem
Jacobs said concerns for the pond are not founded because his proposal includes state-of-the-art septic facilities.