After a public hearing was held during the May 26 Town of Brookhaven Town Board meeting, Silly Lily, located at the end of Adelaide Avenue in East Moriches, was approved for a change of zone from A1 residential to marine commercial. The code change will allow the site to legalize what was there and to normalize the parking of vehicles, boats, and add a small, vegetated buffer to the north.
Joe Sanzano, member of the town Planning Department, described the property as being located just south of Montauk Highway with about 1.4 acres. The property was used for boat storage and parking since 1967, and went before the zoning board of appeals in 1981 for a fishing station certificate, and then authorized a letter of correction in 1984.
The purpose of the most recent code change is to conform with town code for its current use as a marina with boat slips, water rentals, a building for repairs and a building for retail. The owners also proposed proper parking changes, as well as an added buffer to the north with landscaping.
However, the representatives and owners of the property vowed not to allow the site to become a private club or a party location. Additionally, photos were put on the record showing the various upgrades made by the owners, Jay Scott and Steve Chiros, since taking ownership six years ago.
Scott read two articles from the ‘30s and ‘40s highlighting the importance of the community staple. He said he hopes to continue to serve the people of East Moriches, but also stressed the need for some change.
“I promised to always keep it a fishing station,” he said. “This rezone is to have it continue for another 100 years.”
The public was then heard, with over a dozen speakers. The majority spoke in support of the marina, though a handful discussed their concerns as neighboring residential properties.
Resident to the north, Patricia Melia, who has lived there for over 40 years, claimed the new owner has changed the property tremendously without proper approvals or a public hearing.
“As an abutting property owner, I am uniquely affected by the zoning violations,” she said, frustrated, and noting that a 10-foot buffer is not enough to ensure the privacy of her home.
She also said there are two food trucks, which are not permitted, utilizing the land both for service and overnight parking.
Others residents like Adam Lowenbein described the marina as a gathering place and a family gem in the community.
“These guys came and refurbished Silly Lily by opening it to the public, [and it] has become a town square,” he said. “They’ve created a place where everyone goes to hangout.”
Others described it as a magic place, bringing back their childhood.
After the public was heard, councilman Dan Panico proceeded to question the applicant, ensuring certain promises were made on the record in an effort to protect the community.
“We sit here tonight to help keep Silly Lily going into the future, but also affording the property owners to keep it from becoming something it was never intended,” Panico said.
He first asked about the hours of operation, to which the owners promised to close by 8 p.m., though they had no intentions to chain off the property at night. Panico also requested the food truck leave at the end of the day by 9 p.m. without parking on site overnight.
“It has to come and go,” he said, explaining the code.
Then, he questioned the property owners’ intentions of alcohol sales. The owners said they are waiting on permission to serve beer and wine from the State Liquor Authority, thought they noted, again, the business will be closed by 8 p.m. every night and will only be seasonal from Memorial Day through October.
Directly following the public hearing, after much discussion, the board unanimously passed the resolution for the code change.
“Silly Lily lives on, and a piece of Long Island’s maritime history will be able to continue. As one of the last fishing stations in Brookhaven, we worked to craft zoning approvals that enable the tradition to continue into the future, but also safeguard the residential community in the area,” said Panico of the passage. “I believe we struck the right balance.”
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