Sean McPherson, the owner of the Crow’s Nest restaurant and motel in Montauk and a collector of exotic cars, wants to build a new, 600-square-foot garage on his Miller Avenue property in Montauk’s Ditch Plain neighborhood. His application was discussed at a June 25 public hearing before the East Hampton Town Zoning Board of Appeals.
The property, a little under an acre, contains an 864-square-foot single-story house with a built-in, below-ground-level, 288-square-foot garage. Its 184-square-foot deck and 35-square-foot shower were both built by a previous owner without a building permit.
Mr. McPherson, represented by Britton Bistrian, needs a wetlands variance for the garage. He also seeks to legalize the shower and the deck, and to get the needed variances for a 432-square-foot second-story addition.
All the structures, either existing or proposed, are or would be between 18 feet and 38 feet from wetlands, where 100 feet is normally required. A natural resources special permit is needed as well, because of the proximity of the wetlands to the house.
Ms. Bistrian told the board that the current garage, being below grade, floods whenever it rains, rendering it useless for storage.
Flooding was also a concern of the Town Planning Department. Brian Frank, the department’s chief environmental analyst, told the board that Ditch Plain runoff water drains and feeds into Lake Montauk, explaining why the department opposes, in particular, the proposed garage. “Wetlands are nature’s kidneys,” he explained — wetlands hold water, releasing it slowly, helping to purify it before it enters a larger body such as Lake Montauk.
He pointed out that 600 square feet is the largest size the town allows for an accessory building. “This is just too wet of an area to put a structure of that size in,” said Mr. Frank. The garage, as proposed, would be about 30 feet from the wetlands.
The department did not oppose the second-story addition, although the planner had some questions about the size of the deck. Ms. Bistrian explained that the decking had been extended at some point since the early ’70s, when the house was built.
A neighbor spoke in opposition, not to the garage itself but to its location, asking that the proposed structure be moved from east of the property to the western side. Ms. Bistrian said Mr. McPherson was very much agreeable.
The board voted 4-0 to close the public hearing, and now has until late August to make its decision. David Lys, a board member, was not present for the meeting.
The board did render one decision that night, voting 4-0 to reject a series of variances requested by the owner of a Central Avenue, Amagansett, property, after receiving a strongly worded memo from Steven Lynch, the town’s highway superintendent.
The 1,024-square-foot, single-story house currently on the site is in dilapidated condition, a point agreed upon by both the owner, Steven Dubb, and the several neighbors who showed up at an April 16 hearing on the proposal.
The lot, like a number of others nearby, is small, 12,760 square feet. The original size of the proposed new house was large for the neighborhood, according to Rona Klopman, president of the local homeowners association.
But it was concerns about flooding that did the application in. Mr. Dubb’s plan included building a retaining wall onto the public right of way.
Several neighbors testified that flooding is already an issue on that block and expressed deep concern that the problem would only worsen if the Dubb house was built as proposed. Mr. Lynch agreed, telling the board that nothing should be built or planted on the public right of way.
Don Cirillo voted with the other board members to reject the application, but stressed that his vote did not indicate opposition to the overall plan, but was based on the narrow question of the right-of-way flooding issue as expressed by Mr. Lynch.