Residents of Newtown Lane and nearby streets packed the room during an East Hampton Village Zoning Board of Appeals meeting Friday to hear about the proposed development of six lots on the corner of Newtown and Race Lanes.
Tom Osborne of Osborne and McGowan in East Hampton was at the meeting to represent Vincent Chiavarone Builders and J. Mart Realty, who own the properties at 153 and 147 Newtown Lane and plan to divide them into six lots. (A separate subdivision application is before the village planning board.) They were before the zoning board for variances to allow some existing structures to remain on the new lots, or at least to reuse their footprints when the properties are divided, which led to the question: What do the owners intend to do with the new lots?
“Is it going to be redeveloped?” asked Andrew Goldstein, the chairman of the board.
“Yes,” answered Mr. Osborne.
The answer caused a murmur in the crowd, and a stir on the board as well.
“My problem with this application is, I look at the size of these properties, and what is allowed on these properties,” said Mr. Goldstein. “I feel there may be an intention of piggybacking of larger houses in the same footprint, and closer to the road.” Among other things, the new plans call for a house just over 19 feet from Race Lane, where 35 feet is required.
“There is a belief that the largest possible house will be constructed,” Mr. Goldstein added. “We can’t have a 4,000-square-foot house 19 feet from the road. I think we should deny the variance,” he said.
“Maybe we should put a size restriction on the houses,” suggested Larry Hillel, a board member.
“I’m not going to vote on a variance that allows them to build a big house that close to Newtown Lane,” Mr. Goldstein said.
As for the proposed house on Race Lane, Mr. Goldstein said, “I have a problem with a 20-foot setback on Race Lane. It’s too close, and it’s a narrow street. I think he’s got to go back to the drawing board with this.”
The hearing was adjourned until the applicant could draw up more acceptable plans for the board, but not before a neighbor expressed her opinion.
“The property looks terrible,” said Mary Ella Moeller of Newtown Lane. “It looks like the property owner is running a slum. We had to call code enforcement to have the hedges clipped,” she said. “If this is how he expects to keep up his new buildings, I recommend you not grant him a single variance.”
Also on the docket was the continuing neighborly feud over Frederick Ayer III’s proposed 1,200-plus-square-foot addition at 81 Ocean Avenue, which the neighbors across the street, Daniel and Joanna Rose, would like placed elsewhere, where they would not see it at all.
According to Bill Fleming, the attorney for the applicant, “Approximately 19 feet would be visible from the road if you could see through all the screening.” He passed around photographs to the board and added that the proposed addition is “almost 100 yards from the road, in the backyard.”
“The addition is supposedly to house an antique French billiard table,” said Bill Esseks, attorney for the Roses, adding that a two-story addition with 600-odd square feet per floor, was more than necessary for that.
He suggested the northwest corner of the property rather than the northeast, as is currently planned. “Then they can have as many billiard tables as they want,” Mr. Esseks said.
Mr. Goldstein shot down Mr. Esseks’s idea. “The design review board has stated they don’t want it there,” he said, referring to the northwest corner. “And zoning is based on whether it’s a detriment to the neighborhood.”
“The Roses don’t think the variance should be granted,” answered Mr. Esseks. “It’s the sanctity of the statute they’re concerned with, not their own personal opinion.”
Looking at the photos, Mr. Goldstein remarked that it appeared that the new addition at the back of the Ayers’ property would obscure the Roses’ view of a neighboring chimney.
“Are they particular devotees of chimneys?” he asked Mr. Esseks.
“They have a right to object,” said Mr. Esseks.
“They do,” said Mr. Goldstein.
“And they object,” answered Mr. Esseks.
Mr. Goldstein remarked that when the trees were in leaf, the addition would be invisible to the neighbors.
“I don’t think there’s a rule about if you can’t see it, you can’t complain about it,” Mr. Esseks retorted. “If that were the case, I could put 20-foot privet around my house and do whatever I want. My clients have a right to deny.”
“Everyone has a right to complain,” agreed Mr. Goldstein. “But not every complaint bears fruit.”
Mr. Goldstein agreed to hold the hearing open until the meeting on Friday, May 27.