Cutchogue’s staircase couple fails to appear in court

02/24/2014 11:38 AM |
The base of the Soundfront staircase the Yu family built in Cutchogue. See the full-length photo below.  (Tim Kelly photo)

The base of the Soundfront staircase in Cutchogue. See the full  photo below. (Tim Kelly file photo)

The roles are now reversed when it comes to legal matters between the Town of Southold and a Brooklyn couple who built an cement staircase to the beach at their Soundfront summer home in Cutchogue without permits.

While a discrimination suit filed against the town by Hui Hui Yu and Cheng Kai Yu was dismissed in federal court last year, the town is now pursuing a new lawsuit in Suffolk County Supreme Court related to outstanding code violations at the couple’s home. But the Yus have yet to appear in court on the matter.

“He hasn’t showed up, she hasn’t showed up,” said assistant town attorney Lori Hulse, who said Ms. Yu, an attorney, filed a notice of appearance to represent herself and her husband in the proceedings, but has since withdrawn her representation.

They are next scheduled to appear in court March 10.T0516_COVER_Yu_Suit_TK_C.jpg

“It’s been a legal nightmare, an absolute nightmare,” said Trustee Jim King, who was on the board when the violations were initially issued in March 2007.

Trustees discovered during a field inspection that the couple had constructed a granite and cement block staircase on the Sound bluff at their Dignans Road home in 2006 without receiving any town approvals.

Mr. Yu was cited for code violations for failing to obtain a proper wetlands permit, which is required for any construction within 100 feet of water, or a coastal erosion management permit, required for activity within erosion hazard areas.

“They could damage the bluff and lose a lot of it — and it’s their own doing,” Mr. King said. “Last time I saw it there was quite a bit of erosion down the sides of that staircase.”

In the time since the violations were first issued, Mr. King said, the couple has added pallets and cables to the structure — likely for added stability.

“They’ve added more and more to things without any of the proper permits or any proper construction at all,” he said.

The Yus could not be reached for comment; phone numbers listed for Ms. Yu’s law practice were disconnected.

“What we really want them to do is comply with the code,” Ms. Hulse said. “It doesn’t comply at all.”

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