Deck Yes, Pergola No, House Maybe

To accommodate a family’s needs, board will offer a compromise

    At a work session on Tuesday night, the East Hampton Town Zoning Board of Appeals reached a compromise with a family that wanted to keep a deck and pergola, and came to a tied vote over a Montauk application to build near wetlands.
    Robert Schroder and his wife, Tracy Stock, of Sylvie Lane, East Hampton, had requested variances for a small shed and a deck that Mr. Schroder had built to accommodate their disabled adult son, Chris Stock.
    At a Z.B.A. hearing on May 24, Mr. Schroder said that he had constructed the deck with a friend, added a pergola for shade, and built a shed, all without building permits. He chose the deck’s location so that Ms. Stock could see her son from the kitchen and easily assist him if needed. Vic Dassa, a neighbor, objected to the height of the pergola, and its close proximity to his property.
    While the board discussed the fact that the 14-foot variance they requested is substantial, they agreed that there were extenuating circumstances that made for a compelling argument in favor of it. Don Cirillo, the board’s vice chairman, said that normally he would say no to anyone who built something without bothering to get a permit, “but he did what he felt was best for his son.”
    The board’s attorney, Carl Irace, said that if the board wanted to grant the application for the deck variance, it could include a covenant allowing the deck to remain as long as the hardship exists. Also, a specific condition could be added to the covenant stating that the structure would have to be removed if the family were to move or sell the house, or circumstances changed with Mr. Stock. Alex Walter reminded his fellow board members that Ms. Stock had already offered such a compromise.
    The board agreed to include that convenant in its approval, and voted unanimously to grant the variance for the deck on condition that the pergola be removed.
    Removing the pergola over the deck would give Mr. Dassa an unobstructed view. “Take off the top, they can use a removable umbrella,” suggested Mr. Cirillo.
    The variance request for the shed was denied, and the board determined that it will have to be lowered to conform to town code. The decision will be formalized in the coming weeks.
    Also that night, the board reached a split vote on Robert E. Gosman’s application for a natural resources permit and five variances to build a house on Fairview Avenue in Montauk. A hearing on that application was also held on May 24.
    The Town Planning Department recommended that the application be denied due to concerns about wetlands on the one-acre lot. The property is in a water recharge district.
    In 2006, the zoning board approved an application for a 1,400-square-foot house on the property, granting a special permit and five variances. Since then, however, the applicant’s plans have changed and this time, he proposed a 2,570-square-foot house.  
    “The next largest house in the area was 2,200 square feet, and had a much larger setback,” said Lee White, a board member. While the applicant may want to build a larger house, they can still do so by adding only 600 square feet, board members said.
    The house proposed is closer to the wetlands and larger than the one approved by the Z.B.A. in 2006. “So much on this lot is constrained. They have pushed the building envelope to the max,” said Sharon McCobb, another board member.
    “I do not think it is a justification to turn it down [based on] the size of the house. You want to get the biggest bang for the buck as possible,” Mr. Cirillo said, in favor of the house.
    “The house is still within the same setbacks as the original project and should not effect wetlands,” said Phil Gamble, the board’s chairman.
    The board reached a 2-2 vote, as Mr. Walter refrained from voting on this application.
    Mr. Irace will check on whether a tie-breaking vote is required in order to come to a final decision on the Gosman application.