A public hearing by the East Hampton Town Zoning Board of Appeals on an application from the new owner of the East Deck Motel at Ditch Plain in Montauk to bring about 300 dump trucks of sand to the site was fast-tracked by unanimous consent on Tuesday night. It will be on Feb. 4.
Brian Frank, the chief environmentalist of the Planning Department, told the board that the plan was to add 6,000 cubic yards of sand to the beach. Because no structural work is involved, he said the department would ordinarily recommend that the application be handled administratively. However, he said the scale of the project could be the subject of controversy, thus requiring a hearing.
It was a point all board members agreed with, although no one disputed the need for beach restoration. The board was shown aerial photographs of the motel, which is on the eastern edge of what Mr. Frank called one of the town’s most popular beaches. He pointed out changes on the coastline since 2010.
Don Cirillo told his fellow board members that to go the administrative route with something so ambitious might smack of “an end-run.” He was supported, among others, by Alex Walter, the board’s chairman, and Cate Rogers, the newest member, who was appointed by the East Hampton Town Board on Jan. 3.
A Delaware limited liability corporation, ED40, is identified as having bought the East Deck’s 5.01 acres on lots 15 and 16 at 40 DeForest Road, from Montauk Agency and Jettie on Oct. 1 for $14.75 million. The corporation was represented at the hearing by Richard Hammer, a Montauk attorney.
Mr. Hammer expressed concern that the hearing process could delay what he called essential work. “We don’t want to be going into June,” he said. Mr. Walter promised to add the hearing onto the public calendar as soon as a legal notice could be placed in The East Hampton Star.
In other action Tuesday, the board held three public hearings on applications from two property owners. Two of the hearings were on two undeveloped parcels on the Three Mile Harbor shoreline, at 33 and 35 Springwood Way. Billy Hajek of Land Marks, a land planning firm, represented the owners, one of whom, Michael DeSario, was in the audience. The lots are each roughly an acre. Z.B.A. permits are needed because they contain wetlands, bluffs, and beachfront.
The request had been on the administrative action list for the Planning Department to act without a public hearing, until a neighbor, Michael Federman, raised a concern about the scale of new houses, each about 5,300 square feet. But Mr. Hajek pointed out to the board that the plans were within town code guidelines. He said to deny the special permits needed would be “arbitrary.” The board has 62 days to make a decision.
The most heated exchange of the evening came during the final hearing, for a proposed two-car garage on a small lot at Pine Way and Central Avenue in Amagansett. Seth and Sherry Leist want to put up the garage on their 13,000-square-foot lot. A similar application, for a 456-square-foot structure, was turned down by the board in June of 2012. The newly proposed garage is somewhat bigger, at 480 square feet, and it has been repositioned.
The Leists were represented by Richard Whalen, also of Land Marks. He said the couple needed a garage to protect their cars from the salt air and potential accidents and vandalism if parked in the street.
The garage would need an eight-foot variance to be within 92 feet of wetlands when 100 feet is required and another variance to be placed less than the required 30 feet from both Pine Way and Central Avenue. The problem, in the opinion of the Planning Department, again represented by Mr. Frank, is that there are already many structures on the small lot — a house, a shed, a pool house, and a pool patio, all of which are closer to the wetlands than the town code allows.
But Mr. Whalen referred to neighboring houses, which were even closer to the wetlands. “The wildlife is not going to know our garage exists,” he said.
Mr. Frank reminded the board of its reasoning in declining the requested garage last year. “The board originally found that the variances requested were substantial and self-created.”
Mr. Frank and Mr. Whalen called the facts each had presented “irrelevant.” The board has 62 days to decide which facts matter.
Mr. Walter also announced a reshuffling of responsibilities for board members, who are each designated to take the lead on applications for their assigned hamlet. Lee White, whose five-year term expired at the end of the year, had been responsible for Amagansett. David Lys will take on that territory and his former responsibility, Springs, now goes to Ms. Rogers. Mr. Cirillo will be responsible for East Hampton, Mr. Walter, Wainscott, and Bryan Gosman, Montauk.