4 Minus 2 Plus 1 Equals . . .

After five adjournments, decision nears on Schultzes’ caretaker’s cottage

Attorneys for the C.E.O. of Starbucks have assured the East Hampton Village Zoning Board of Appeals that their client and his wife will reduce the size of a caretaker’s cottage on their property, as agreed to in 2011 and ’12, but said last week that they will return with a request to add back the space they will remove.

In 2012, when Howard Schultz and Sheri Kersch-Schultz sought to add two bedrooms and two bathrooms to their main house on Gracie Lane, the building inspector noted that the caretaker’s cottage did not match the last certificate of occupancy. The zoning board granted a coastal erosion permit in 2011 for the main house construction, and renewed it in 2012, on the condition that the 1,022-square-foot accessory building be reduced to its original 650 square feet. The applicants agreed to the condition but have yet to honor it, and as a result do not have a certificate of occupancy.

A prior owner of the Schultz property had received zoning board approval to construct a 650-square-foot garage and caretaker’s apartment in 1986. When the Schultzes bought the property in 1995, they obtained a certificate of occupancy that described the accessory structure the same way as in 1986. But the building is now 372 square feet larger and has four bedrooms and three and a half bathrooms. The Schultzes are seeking either a modification of the 2012 zoning board determination or a variance to allow the cottage to remain as is.

Their attorneys sought and obtained five adjournments in the matter, with the board finally insisting that Leonard Ackerman, representing Mr. Schultz, appear on Friday and not in September, as he had requested.

On Friday, Mr. Ackerman proposed removing two bedrooms and two bathrooms from the caretaker’s apartment, obtaining a certificate of occupancy from the building inspector, and then seeking a special permit to expand the cottage again with the addition of one bedroom and one bathroom. “I don’t think that’s such a heavy lift,” Mr. Ackerman said.

That would ultimately leave the Schultzes with a three-bedroom, two-and-a-half-bath cottage at roughly the same square footage as the current one.

Board members remained skeptical in light of multiple assurances they said the applicants had given that the caretaker’s cottage would be reduced to its original size. Mr. Ackerman asked for a poll.

“I don’t think you do have a right to do this,” said Frank Newbold, the board’s chairman. “The condition that was imposed in 2011 and 2012, that they agreed to as a condition of getting a coastal erosion permit, still holds and they should remove the extra square footage in order to get a C of O.”

“In 2012 you were supposed to reduce it to 650 square feet,” John McGuirk told Mr. Ackerman. “I would deny the application if I was to vote on it now.” Larry Hillel also said he would vote it down in its present form, and Craig Humphrey said, “I’m not going to agree on anything unless I see this written out.”

The zoning board closed the hearing, but gave itself four weeks to consider a modified special permit application and make a decision.

Linda Riley, the village attorney, said that she will “digest it all, research it all, and get a memo back to the board” for its use in deliberations. 

In other news from Friday, the board, in contrast to a previous meeting, seemed agreeable to a special permit that would allow Dylan’s Candy Bar at 52 Main Street to add scooped ice cream to its offerings.

Andrew Goldstein, the attorney for Dylan’s Candy Bar and the former chairman of the zoning board, told the board that in 1992 the village amended its code to allow a store selling ready-to-eat and prepared food and containing no facilities for eating on the premises. “The village called that a delicatessen,” he said.

That definition was deleted from the code in 1998 in an amendment banning fast-food establishments that specifically prohibited the sale of scooped ice cream. But Nuts About Chocolate, a business that also sold candy, fudge, and, for a time, Mr. Goldstein said, scooped ice cream, operated on the site from 1993 until the building’s owner assigned the lease to Dylan’s, which opened in 2006. Nuts About Chocolate, he said, was allowed to continue operations as a pre-existing nonconforming use, “and Dylan’s continued to do that.”

At the board’s previous meeting, members worried aloud about setting a precedent and the potential for a future tenant to open a pizzeria, for example. Those fears are misplaced, Mr. Goldstein said. “We are asking for a narrowly crafted special permit. Any expansion of that use at all would require another special permit application, no matter whether Dylan’s or another owner. . . . A pizzeria can’t slip in there in the middle of the night.”

He also referred to reporting in The Star of the prior zoning board meeting, in which Mr. Newbold said that Scoop du Jour, a Newtown Lane store that predates the 2008 amendment, is required to power-wash the sidewalk three times per week. “Dylan’s is quite amenable to power-washing the sidewalk on any reasonable schedule,” he said, and would add a trash receptacle if the board required it.

Christopher Minardi, another board member, said the addition of scooped ice cream was “a small extension of the product line” to which he would not object. Mr. Humphrey and Mr. Hillel agreed. The hearing was closed, and a determination is expected at the board’s meeting on Friday, Aug. 8.

In addition to a determination granting the Maidstone Club variances and permits to modernize and expand its irrigation system, which is covered elsewhere, the board issued five other determinations. It denied an application by Eric and Lori Blatstein of 73 Ocean Avenue to keep a slate patio within a required rear yard setback and for lot coverage in excess of the maximum permitted. At the July 11 meeting, a neighbor had complained to the board about frequent late-night parties and an “industrial-size indoor/outdoor entertainment area” including loudspeakers, lighting, and machines that throw up flames. At that meeting, Mr. Newbold pointed to noise complaints made to the police by four neighbors, all after midnight, and said that the board had already granted a variance in 2011 allowing lot coverage greater than the maximum allowed.

The board allowed Sea Spray East Hampton LLC, at 15 Gracie Lane, to maintain a steel sculpture affixed to an underground concrete slab, a concrete structure, and a tennis court, all within required setbacks, as well as lot coverage exceeding the maximum permitted. David R. Powers of 42 McGuirk Street was granted an area variance to continue using a residence with a gross floor area over the maximum allowed.

Victoria Sutera of 25 Mill Hill Lane was granted variances to keep two air-conditioning units located within the side yard setback and a fountain within the rear yard setback. And Michael Garstin and Dale E. Leff of 327 Georgica Road received an area variance to construct a patio that will result in lot coverage in excess of the maximum allowable.