Z.B.A. Rules Pool House Is No Longer Exempt

       A pool patio on Cove Hollow Road was given an okay by the East Hampton Town Zoning Board of Appeals on Nov. 19, but an adjoining pool house got an emphatic no. James and Christine Weinberg bought their half-acre property, which contained a 3,800-square-foot house, a 648-square-foot pool, and a 592-square-foot pool house, in 2002. The latter structure pre-existed zoning and was allowed to remain in place. The Weinbergs’ application, which was heard on Oct. 1, was for a two-foot variance for the patio, and an okay for the pool house, which was described as a combination pool house, garage, and shed in 2002. The building has had interior plumbing added at some point, however, forbidden for an accessory structure that is over 200 square feet.

       Tyler Borsack of the Planning Department told the board, in a memo, that because of the changes made to the structure, including removing the garage doors and the interior walls, the structure had lost its exempt status. Mr. Borsack also pointed out that the driveway on the property no longer led to the garage.

       Mr. Weinberg tried to explain some of the changes. “When we took possession, there were two garage doors. The doors were in bad shape so we took them off,” he said. David Lys, a board member, pressed Mr. Weinberg about furniture, including an armoire and a bed, inside the building. “We use it for dead furniture space,” Mr. Weinberg replied.

       A letter to the board from a neighbor, however, said that the previous owner had rented the property out, with the accessory building possibly used as living quarters.

       Alex Walter, the board’s chairman, noted, as he began the discussion on Nov. 19 that variances to allow a pool house of over 200 square feet were extremely rare; Mr. Borsack’s memo had said that he could only find three such cases. Mr. Walter said that, on its face, he was opposed. Board members weighed in: “The stumbling block is the garage that was converted, illegally,” Don Cirillo said. “To me, that is a show stopper.” 

       “When you buy a house, you should go by the C of O,” Bryan Gosman said. “This was not on the C of O.”

       The board voted unanimously to allow a variance for the patio, but to deep-six the variance requested for the pool house. It was unclear whether the couple would have to remove its plumbing.


In Beach Hampton

       A proposed house at 142 Central Avenue in the Beach Hampton neighborhood of Amagansett containing wetlands sailed through the approval process of the Z.B.A. the same night, effectively ending litigation by the applicant, Steve Dubb. Mr. Dubb’s first application had been denied in April following stiff opposition from neighbors and an assessment of flooding problems by the town’s Highway Department.

       “This is not the same application. It is entirely new and redesigned,” Mr. Cirillo said at last week’s session. As it did before, the application calls for tearing down an existing house, which all agreed was rundown and decrepit, but this time the size  had been reduced. Mr. Dubb was represented by Eric Bregman, an attorney with Farrell Fritz, a law firm based in Bridgehampton.

       Mr. Dubb had purchased the property last year for a bit over a million dollars, after eyeing it for several years. Initially, he wanted to build an over 3,000-square-foot house on the 12,000-square-foot lot. The redesigned structure is a bit over 2,500 square feet.

       The original size, along with the potential for flooding and construction of a retaining wall, prompted the board to vote against the application 4 to 0 in April, with the lawsuit a result. Neighbors had shown up at the time, en masse, armed with photographs and surveys of flooding conditions. None attended the hearing last month, on Nov. 19, when it became clear that Mr. Dubb had offered several olive branches, if not whole olive trees, to the neighbors as well as the town.

       He told the board that he’d met with his neighbors several times. “I’ve reached out . . . and I haven’t had any negative comments on it,” he said.

       In a memo to the board, Mr. Frank, the Planning Department environmentalist, said, “The scale of the new residence has been reduced to be more compatible with the size and the constraints of the property,” making it a stronger candidate for a special permit to allow it to be built in a wetlands area.

       Mr. Bregman told the board that Mr. Dubb would be happy to agree to a covenant swapping out the impermeable patio around the swimming pool with a permeable one, allowing for better drainage. He also agreed to several other covenants, including a drywell for pool drainage, and other efforts to contain flood water on the property.

       The board voted 5 to 0 to approve the new application. As far as the suit against the board, Mr. Bregman, although not involved with the litigation, said, “My suspicion is, unless there are some slips twixt the cup and the lip,” it will probably just fade away.