Questions Over Woodshop

    Neighbors upset about the reconstruction of an allegedly pre-existing, nonconforming woodworking shop on Abrahams Path in Amagansett have appealed an East Hampton Town building inspector’s decision to reissue a building permit for the property.
    Mark Ryan III, who owns the property, wants to demolish his 1,500-square-foot woodworking shop and build a new 1,500-square-foot shop in its place, with a 1,246-square-foot residence above it. It is to have a 260-square-foot second-floor deck and a 600-square-foot one-story detached garage.
    In an affidavit written on Oct. 20 of this year to Tom Preiato, the town’s senior building inspector, Ronald Webb Jr. claimed that the property “has been in continuous use as a wood shop and wood storage area by me and my employees” since Donald Sharkey, the former chief building inspector, issued a certificate of occupancy for it in October 2008.
    Mr. Ryan received a building permit for the new shop and residence from Mr. Preiato on Nov. 22, 2010, that was set to expire on Nov. 22 of this year.
    When Marion P. Suter, Paul Diamond, and Marc Matthew, all neighbors of the property, discovered that a commercial use was planned in their residential zone — something town code prohibits — they contested the impending construction. In affidavits submitted in May, they claimed that to the best of their knowledge there had never been a woodworking shop or any other similar commercial use on that property. Based on these affidavits, and the fact that town code does not permit two uses on this property, unless they predate rules prohibiting them, Mr. Preiato rescinded the building permit on Aug. 31.
    But after receiving the affidavit from Mr. Webb, he reinstated the building permit three months later. The neighbors are appealing Mr. Preiato’s decision, and requesting that the East Hampton Town Zoning Board of Appeals review the situation as soon as possible.
    In a Dec. 16 letter to Mr. Preiato and the East Hampton Town Board, John L. Ciarelli of Ciarelli and Dempsey P.C., the neighbors’ attorney, asked the board to enforce town code and revoke the permit. “The senior building inspector renewed the improperly issued building permit on Nov. 15, 2011, without notice and without sufficient basis,” Mr. Ciarelli wrote. Mr. Ryan has already begun excavating at his property.
    Neighbors have demanded an immediate stop-work order, “but no action has been taken,” Mr. Ciarelli said. If the town fails to respond or act on the neighbors’ request within 10 days, New York State law allows the neighbors to take the matter to court, he said.