The East Hampton Town Zoning Board of Appeals ruled on Tuesday in favor of two applicants who needed variances to install septic systems. In a unanimous decision, the board found that a variance for a third floor was appropriate because it provided a way to put in a multi-ringed septic system that would conform to the county health code and help protect Lake Montauk.
At the same meeting, the board granted a 60-foot variance from the required setback from the oceanfront dune crest in Amagansett so that a septic system could meet county regulations.
Seven condominium units in two buildings are planned for the Lake Montauk property, a 3.4-acre parcel at 374 West Lake Drive, which has resort zoning. Because the land contains wetlands and is very close to the water table, there appeared to be no site for a septic system. The applicants’ solution is to fill the area between the new buildings and West Lake Drive, and to place the septic system in the fill.
Each unit would have two floors, totaling 500 square feet. The property around the building would be graded up to the seven to eight-foot level of the first floor. The third floor would, in effect, be the basement, hidden beneath the livable areas and used only for storage.
The only problem with the plan, and the reason why the town planning board, which had the application before it for site plan review, sent it to the zoning board, is that the zoning code prohibits three stories.
Brian Gosman, a board member from Montauk, began the deliberations Tuesday. “Most of the complaints that came from the March 6 hearing were the actual height and the looming effect it would have,” he said. “Even if they were to build a two-story structure they could still build a taller building than they are proposing,” he said. He added that the buildings could have been three feet higher than now proposed.
“I feel like this area of Montauk could use some improvements, some new infrastructure. I feel that a condo use as opposed to a hotel use will be better suited for this property and have less environmental impact,” he said.
Sharon McCobb, another member of the board, told the board that the third story made the proposal “environmentally more stable.” Lee White, a board member, was in support of the variance, as were Don Cirillo, the vice chairman of the panel, and Alex Walter, the chairman.
The only problem board members saw was that a mound of fill had already been placed on the property.
“We do need to talk about the fill, though. It’s a concern,” Mr. Walter said. He asked the board to require that the fill be tested and that, if it were found to be unacceptable, make sure it would be taken out.
The matter of where the fill had come from seemed to be answered during the March 6 hearing. Steve Kalimnios, whose family’s corporation North Harbor Realty owns the property, also owns the Lake Club and Marina on the eastern side of Lake Montauk. Permission to dredge there recently received a time extension. It seemed that the fill had come from that project, but Mr. Walter said after the meeting that the origins were still uncertain.
In the second decision Tuesday involving a septic system, the board ruled in favor of unnamed applicants who own Pandion L.L.C., and plan to build on the last undeveloped oceanfront lot on Marine Boulevard in Amagansett. Pandion won the right to place a one-story house with a deck only 40 feet from the dune crest where the zoning code requires 100 feet.
A heated exchange had occurred between Mr. Cirillo, acting as chairman at the public hearing on the application on Feb. 28, and Brian Frank, the East Hampton Town Planning Department’s chief environmental analyst, when Mr. Frank, who strongly opposed the requested variances, asked for a two-week extension of time to allow the Planning Department to study the septic system. He argued, in part, that the variances would create a dangerous precedent.