Babinski Can Build a Barn

    Bill Babinski, a farmer who owns 20 acres of land on Beach Lane in Wainscott, will be able to build the second barn he needs after the East Hampton Town Planning Board okayed his application at an April 4 meeting. The 1,380-square-foot barn, to be erected next to one already standing, is a little less than half its size.
    A neighboring couple, Tom and Shelly Gilbert, expressed strong opposition to the application at a hearing on March 7, saying that the new barn would obliterate their ocean view if it were sited as proposed.
    The development rights to Mr. Babinski’s land are jointly held by the Town of East Hampton and the Peconic Land Trust, meaning it will be a farm in perpetuity. The Gilberts had contributed to the fund that purchased the rights, and felt that as such, they should be given some voice in the placement of the barn.
    Ian Calder-Piedmonte, a board member who is himself a farmer, spoke first.      “There is no question that this would be obtrusive to their view,” he said, adding, however, that “a lot of this issue is, we’re late in the game. This should have been settled when the development rights were [acquired].”
    The Gilberts had proposed alternative locations for the new barn, but Mr. Calder-Piedmonte, drawing on his experience as a farmer, found them wanting. “I wish there was a solution that would please everybody,” he said. “I don’t think there is one here. We have to allow the structure to be placed where the applicant wants.”
    The board members J.P. Foster, Patrick Schutte, and Nancy Keeshan agreed, as did Diana Weir, the vice chairwoman. “We’re within our legal boundaries that we have to comply with,” she noted. “We can’t leave the town open to any kind of litigation if we violate the town code.”
    The board’s chairman, Reed Jones, speaking last, found himself alone in seeking a different solution.
    “It’s remarkable that a barn would create so much excitement,” he began, adding that a compromise between the neighbors should have been sought. “It shouldn’t be 100 percent one person and zero percent for someone else. I think there should be a tradeoff.”
    The board then voted to approve Mr. Babinski’s site plan, 5-1, with Mr. Jones the sole dissenter.
    Shelly Gilbert, sitting in the audience with her attorney, left the hall  dejected. “I don’t understand. Community should be about compromise,” she said, stepping out into the early spring night.
    At the same meeting, the board held two public hearings on site plan applications. The first was from East Hampton Indoor Tennis, which wants to replace its inflatable bubble with a metal one and add two adjacent small utility buildings. The second was from Riverhead Building Supply for its outlet on Industrial Road in Montauk, to install a 4-by-8-foot propane tank. Neither application met with opposition.
    The board will hold a public hearing on Wednesday to consider a proposal from Verizon Wireless to upgrade its facility in Montauk, near the town recycling center. Verizon wants to remove the three antennas currently on the tower and replace them with nine, in order to improve service in the area.
    The planning board’s March 21 meeting ended in a closed executive session with a town attorney, Kathryn Santiago, to discuss two lawsuits brought against the board earlier that week by David Eagan, attorney for the Concerned Citizens of Wainscott. One of the suits involves a property at 411 Montauk Highway in Wainscott, at the corner of Montauk Highway and Sayre’s Path. Concerned Citizens is challenging the board’s action of Jan. 25 granting approval for the construction of housing there.
    The second lawsuit involves a site permit granted to the owner of 55 Wainscott Hollow, Jeffrey Colle. This suit contests a point seemingly settled in State Supreme Court, in which the court ordered the board to reverse an earlier finding against Mr. Colle.