The future of the final parcel of undeveloped beachfront property on the dunes that run along Marine Boulevard in Beach Hampton in Amagansett was debated Tuesday night at an East Hampton Town Zoning Board of Appeals meeting.
The applicants, a local family who own the half-acre property as Pandion L.L.C., had originally started an application process in 2008, but pulled their application in order to assess the impact of new Federal Emergency Management Agency regulations, according to Stephen Latham, their attorney.
They want to build a one-story 2,173-square-foot house with a 1,400-square-foot deck, each about 40 feet from the crest of the dune, where 100 feet are required.
Robert Grover, an environmental scientist hired by the applicants, told the board that the clearance is not needed in this case because the Amagansett dune is one of the most stable on the entire East Coast. “We’re in a big, massive surplus of sand that makes for a very stable shoreline,” he said.
Speaking for the East Hampton Town Planning Department, Brian Frank, a chief environmental analyst, strongly opposed the variances requested, arguing, in part, that if granted, they would create a dangerous precedent for future variance appeals in the same area.
Mr. Frank also disputed the testimony of Mr. Grover, pointing out that the patterns of sand movement from beach to beach are cyclical, and that it is impossible to say whether the dune could be breached in a massive storm.
“Most coastlines are very dynamic. . . . You can walk here in the winter and see a very narrow beach,” Mr. Frank said later.
Reading from a letter from the East Hampton Town Trustees, Deborah Klughers, a trustee, called the applicants’ requests “excessive and unnecessary.”
One thing both sides seemed to agree on is the eclectic nature of the houses along Marine Boulevard. Some are relatively small and close to the street. Others are quite large, with green lawns and pebbled drives.
Laurie Wiltshire of Land Planning Services, a firm hired by the applicants, argued that the size, relative location, and scope of the proposed building fell within the averages of the 25 surrounding houses in terms of proximity to dune crest, distance to the road, and overall size of the houses.
Mr. Frank called the houses along the beach a stylistic hodgepodge built during different eras. He urged the board not to use the most egregious examples in an average when planning future building. “You can’t compare structures built in the 1990s or earlier to structures we are building now,” he said.
The debate grew a bit heated when Mr. Frank requested that the hearing be left open for an additional week in order to respond to what he characterized as new information brought forward by the applicants.
Don Cirillo, acting as chairman in Alex Walters’s absence, initially declined the request. Mr. Frank responded that such a request had never before been denied and that, in particular, the unusual plan for the septic system did require review. Sharon McCobb, a board member, then made a motion to leave the hearing open for one week, but only for the septic system aspects, and suggested giving the applicants an additional week to respond. The motion carried three to one, with Mr. Cirillo the lone dissenter.