Good fences make good neighbors, wrote the poet Robert Frost — but when the fence is built on a neighbor’s property, not so good, according to the East Hampton Town Zoning Board of Appeals.
The 5-acre-plus property in question, at 143 Town Lane in East Hampton, is owned by Caroline Lloyd, an equestrian who, according to her attorney, spends most of her time in West Palm Beach, Fla., when she is in the United States. But for three months a year the horse season moves to the Hamptons, and so does Ms. Lloyd.
The Lloyd property contains a 3,481-square-foot house, a pool, and a 2,283-square-foot horse barn. It also has a 1,815-square-foot exercise ring and an 8,739-square-foot horse arena, both of which were constructed without benefit of a building permit and each of which is too close to the property line.
The owner applied for variances to legalize the exercise ring, said in the application to be .3 feet from the lot line where the requirement is 10 feet, and the arena, which is 6.7 feet from the line, 3.3 feet short of the standard. The arena variance was needed for one corner only, most of the grounds being conforming, according to a memo to the zoning board from Tyler Borsack, an environmental technician with the East Hampton Town Planning Department. Mr. Borsack noted in his memo that the exercise ring could have been placed elsewhere on the property.
At the September hearing, David Lys, a board member, called the exercise ring “a self-created hardship.”
During that hearing, it became evident from a new survey that there was yet another problem: a fence by the exercise ring stands four inches on the wrong side of the Lloyd property, on land owned by the East Hampton Housing Authority. Not only that, but it stands on an easement on the housing authority land.
Building on a scenic easement requires approval via a townwide referendum. “When she purchased the property, the fence was already in place,” Mr. Lloyd’s attorney, Dianne Le Verrier, told the board at the time.
On Tuesday, the board rendered its verdict. Alex Walter, the chairman, made it clear from the beginning that the exercise ring had a steep hill to climb before he would approve it. The arena, though, was more in keeping with the town code, he said.
Lee White agreed, adding that the corner of the arena in question was very well screened and barely visible from outside the property.
As for the ring, though, “It is not in the best interest of this town,” said Don Cirillo. “Why was this placed on and over the property line?”
In the end, the board voted 5-0 to allow the arena the variance it needs, but to deny a variance for the exercise ring. A site plan for the property, which has been held in abeyance by the town planning board pending the Z.B.A. decision, will now have to be revisited.
The board also voted, in a split decision, to deny variances requested for a constrained Amagansett property. The applicant, Stuart Grannen, wanted to tear down a house at 21 Fresh Pond Road and replace it with a house about 20 feet from the front-yard line, where 40 feet is normally required. The present house, though it has a slightly different footprint from the proposed new one, is about the same distance from the line.
The problem for Mr. Grannen is that by tearing down the old building he would lose its pre-zoning-code protection. Both Mr. White and Mr. Lys argued that the property would then have to be treated essentially as a vacant lot, saying that there were other places on the land to build that would be more in keeping with the zoning laws. Mr. Borsack made the same point in a memo written before the Nov. 19 hearing.
Bryan Gosman, however, said the proposal would have little impact on the neighborhood, and Mr. Cirillo told his fellow members that by denying the application they would be forcing the applicant to do a lot of back-filling on the sloping property, raising the costs substantially.
Mr. Walter, who is a member of a golf club that owns a neighboring parcel, recused himself from the matter, and the board then deadlocked 2-2 on the application. Since a majority is needed to approve a variance, Mr. Grannen will likely have to submit a new proposal.