Document Drama Unfolds

Two small lots with summer houses on them were before the East Hampton Town Zoning Board of Appeals on Tuesday. One, a 16,978-square-foot lot at the intersection of Bay View Avenue and Lazy Point Road in Amagansett, has an accessory building that was the subject of a public hearing. The other, at the end of South Edison Street in Montauk, is 4,738 square feet of dunes, and apparently one of the tiniest lots in town.

The late John Easevoli and his wife, Paula Easevoli, bought the Lazy Point property in April 1971. It contains a two-story house with three living units, which was not the subject of Tuesday’s hearing. The building being scrutinized is a second structure on the property. The question before the zoning board was whether its kitchen was legal.

In late 1971, the Easevolis asked the board to legalize the structure as a cottage with a bathroom. The request was granted with the stipulation that there be no kitchen. On Tuesday, Ms. Easevoli asked the board to remove that prohibition.

Arguing on her behalf was Richard E. Whalen of Land Marks, who explained that the kitchen had come to the town’s attention when the Easevolis took part in the town’s rental registry program.

Mr. Whalen said the kitchen had always been in the structure and that the property supplied needed affordable housing. He also said removing the kitchen could be dangerous because tenants would use hot plates for cooking. In the audience were about a dozen supporters of Ms. Easevoli’s request, including the couple’s son, Vince Easevoli, who told the board that everyone in the audience could testify that there always had been a kitchen in the building.

As the board examined the history of the property, they learned that in 1971 the town’s building inspector ruled that the structure was only supposed to be a garage. Board members wrestled with the conflict between the 1971 approval of a bathroom and the evidence that the building also contained a kitchen. John Whelan, the board’s chairman, said that he had not been able to obtain the file on the 1971 proceeding.

At that point, David Buda, a Springs resident who frequently weighs in before various boards, announced that he had documents from the 1971 Z.B.A. file. Mr. Buda, who had done his own research, held correspondence from the town from 1971 citing the late Mr. Easevoli for illegally converting a garage into living quarters. He also had in hand a copy of a notarized 1971 statement from Ms. Easevoli to the board, in which she wrote, “We wish to maintain this as a cottage without a kitchen. No structural changes are being made.”

This triggered an outburst from Mr. Whalen, the attorney for the applicant. In a raised voice, he said it was disgusting that he should learn about these documents during the public hearing after having been told the file couldn’t be found. The town was woefully behind in digitalizing its records, he said.

The board found that the circumstances warranted another, separate hearing and agreed to schedule it as soon as possible.

The small Montauk property before the board on Tuesday is on one of only two lots with private residences along the beach in downtown Montauk. The land is zoned for resort use.

The house sits entirely on the dunes, with the popular summer nightclub Sloppy Tuna to its north. Frans H. and Dalal Preidel, who own the property, want to enlarge a shed there and need a permit because of the dunes as well as variances for height and coverage. It has been noted that the couple also own a small, 800-square-foot studio in the Kips Bay area of Manhattan, which was featured in The New York Times in December.

Eric Schantz, a senior town planner, told the board that the proposed shed, though larger than the one it would replace, would actually reduce lot coverage, due to the removal of an outdoor shower and deck. When the Reidels bought the property in 2010, the nearby Sloppy Tuna was a different, much quieter establishment. The rowdy nature of the bar recently led the Reidels to try to mitigate the noise and debris from the club, and Mr. Reidel explained that when he wanted to build a fence he was told he had to use shrubbery, and planted bamboo, which also prompted board discussion. As for losing the shower and the deck, he said, “As you can tell, there is no privacy, anyway.”

The applicant and Mr. Schantz were uncertain if the work required approval by the State Department of Environmental Conservation, and the record was kept open for one week to find out.