Home News Local News ‘Burning Kouch’ camping festival in Orient canceled after town gets restraining order

‘Burning Kouch’ camping festival in Orient canceled after town gets restraining order

Image: Couchsurfing.com

Southold Town has stopped the Burning Kouch event planned for Orient this weekend.

The town obtained a restraining order forcing organizers of the event to cancel it, according to an announcement posted online.

The event has been held annually in September on a farm at 26160 Route 25 in Orient. The property is owned by Ezair Khedouri of New York City, according to town tax records.

“From our perspective, it’s not a permitted event,” Supervisor Scott Russell said at Tuesday night’s town board meeting, responding to questions from Tom Foster of Orient. “We let the attorney representing the host know we are prepared to take any and all action to prevent it,” he said.

The town board on Tuesday unanimously passed a resolution hiring the law firm of Devitt Spellman Barrett LLP to pursue action against the owners of the property.

Town attorney William Duffy said Tuesday night the firm was preparing an application for a temporary restraining order and injunction “as we speak.”

“How will it be enforced?” Foster asked. People are coming from all over the world, he said, citing the CouchSurfing.com website, where the event is advertised.

Couchsurfing is an online social network connecting travelers and hosts around the world. As of yesterday, the Orient “Burning Kouch” event had 272 people signed up through the website with “128 spots left.” The two-night camping event was scheduled to take place Friday, Sept. 15 through Sunday, Sept. 17.

Russell said the town will take all action necessary to enforce the restraining order.

“We’re not going to go to court, to spend money on outside counsel, to get a TRO and not enforce it,” Russell replied. Police and code enforcement officers would be deployed, he said.

Russell said he does not believe the event would qualify for a special event permit, but the organizers had never applied for one in any case.

He said he was surprised to learn this event was going on each year since 2011, because he has not heard any complaints about it since the first year, when, he said, police were dispatched to the site for noise complaints.

Foster said at least one nearby property owner complained to police last year as well.

The restraining order left even organizers searching for a backup plan.

The organizers posted a message on the event page last night announcing the cancellation.

“The town of Southold (of which Orient is a hamlet) filed a restraining order against us. They do not want us holding this event there. We tried to fight it. We really did. The hurdles are significant.

“Do NOT publicly speak ill of, or harass, the town. It won’t help matters.

“Take a moment to digest.

“Now, there are still hundreds of us, now free, looking to have fun this weekend. So… let’s have fun this weekend.

“If anybody has suggestions or connections for a good back up plan, let me know. I’ve contacted House of Yes and am searching for nearby campgrounds that may be a good fit.”

Denise Civiletti
Denise is a veteran local reporter and editor, an attorney and former Riverhead Town councilwoman. Her work has been recognized with numerous awards, including a “writer of the year” award from the N.Y. Press Association in 2015. She is a founder, owner and co-publisher of this website.