Submitting a ‘Creative’ Plan

    An oceanfront house on Marine Boulevard in Amagansett was before the East Hampton Town Zoning Board of Appeals on April 2 for variances that would allow what might be called a creative expansion.
    “I’m a composer,” Carter Burwell, the applicant, told the board. Mr. Burwell is, in fact, the composer for the Coen brothers, the Academy Award-winning film-making duo, having written the scores for all but one of their films.
    He was accompanied at the hearing by his wife, Christine Sciulli, a video installation artist, and their two sons. “Working at home, and our growing family, are our reasons for the expansion,” Mr. Burwell said.
    The property, at 39 Marine Boulevard, is about 27,663 square feet with a three-story, 3,149-square-foot house on it and a 1,430-square-foot deck. Mr. Burwell bought the property in 2010; it was previously owned by the fashion designer Elie Tahari.
    As designed by Katherine Chia of Desai/Chia Architecture, who was at the hearing and spoke at length, the plans call for a two-story addition to the living area and an increase in the size of Mr. Burwell’s recording studio.
    The expansion would total 1,191 square feet and be on the street side of the house, with a small, 218-square-foot deck. Several variances from the town code would be required, some of which are minor, such as a 5.4-foot variance from the required 100 feet from the dune crest. Two of the requested variances are somewhat rare: a 14-foot, 8-inch height variance from the pyramid law, which is intended to prevent buildings from looming over neighboring properties, and a total square footage variance of 353 feet.
    Calling the existing house “a little convoluted,” Ms. Chia said it was more or less a split-level. Laying out floor plans and a scale model of the house, she pointed out that the proposed extension would be at the top right, facing Marine Boulevard.
    Ms. Chia used a tool, apparently of her own design, to illustrate the impact of the pyramid variance being requested. Using a piece of Plexiglas cut to fit over the model, she dropped it in place, illustrating clearly what the height would look like from the street.
     “You should patent that for all our pyramid applications,” Alex Walter, the board’s chairman, said, only half in jest.
Mr. Walter asked what property would be most affected if the 14-foot variance from the pyramid law were granted. A beach access to the east was the response.
    Referring to the overall project, Ms. Chia said, “We’re trying to scale it down in proportion to the street.” She noted that the coverage variance requested was due to the requirements of the studio.
    Lisa D’Andrea of the Planning Department told the board that the only vegetation being taken out was manicured lawn, and she complimented the applicants on their presentation. She also noted that the extension was strictly landward. Mr. Burwell added that any natural vegetation removed during construction would be replaced.
    “I understand the rules of the code and take them seriously,” Mr. Burwell concluded.
    The board agreed to keep the hearing open for two weeks to allow the East Hampton Town Trustees, who own the beach in front of the property, to weigh in. It will then have 62 days to make a determination.