Expansion Called Out of Scale for Cooper Lane

Despite a dozen hearings on its agenda, the East Hampton Village Zoning Board of Appeals moved swiftly through its meeting on Friday, closing most hearings after the applicants had satisfied its concerns or requests.

The board’s effort to maintain the historical character of the village’s neighborhoods was underscored in a new hearing, in which the Corwin family of 25 Cooper Lane sought variances to alter and construct additions to the house and add a second story to a detached garage located in the front yard, where garages are prohibited.

The garage is 21.4 feet from the front-yard lot line, where the required setback is 35 feet. A variance is also needed to alter it, as the maximum floor area of accessory structures on the lot is 445 square feet and the garage is 513 square feet.

The other variances sought would result in a residence with 2,955 square feet of floor area. The current size of the house, which was built before the zoning code took effect, is 2,762 square feet; the present code permits a maximum of 2,226. Also, 3,100 square feet of lot coverage is sought, where the maximum permitted is 2,951. In addition, the applicants propose to lift the house, which falls within front and side-yard setbacks, in order to construct a new cellar.

Ingress to and egress from the habitable space proposed for the new cellar require the increase in floor area, said Trevor Darrell, an attorney representing the Corwins. “We fully recognize that the home as it sits, pre-existing, nonconforming, currently exceeds the permitted” floor area, he said. The applicants and their architect have done their best to minimize the increase, and the neighbor that would be most affected by the alterations has submitted a letter in support, Mr. Darrell said.

The existing garage has a flat roof; the applicants propose a gambrel roof with a peak of 18 feet at the center. “We acknowledge that . . . there are no other garages that sit in the front yard on Cooper,” Mr. Darrell said, but “the garage itself doesn’t sit forward of neighboring homes.” Its proposed alteration, he said, is meant to mirror the house.

“Of course, we all want to encourage young, growing families in the village,” said Frank Newbold, the board’s chairman. But, he continued, the zoning laws “were specifically formulated to push back against large houses on small lots in the village.” The proposed floor area is 32.7 percent more than is permitted on the .28-acre lot, Mr. Newbold said, and the garage and lot coverage both exceed what is permitted as well. “It’s getting very large,” he said.

Adding a second story to the garage for storage is understandable, he said, but “to have something that’s 18 feet tall within 20 feet of the sidewalk . . . compared to some of the other houses on the street, including directly across the street, it’s become a very substantial house.”

Board members agreed. “It’s too much on this small property,” said Larry Hillel.

Mr. Newbold asked that the architect, Paul Clinton, investigate “if there’s any way to accommodate reducing the visual mass from the street and still accomplishing what the family needs.” The mass from the street, he said, “is just getting out of scale for the lane.”

“I believe we have some work to do,” Mr. Darrell said. The hearing was left open and is to be continued at the board’s next meeting, on Friday, May 12.

Two determinations were announced. Juliana Terian was granted a variance allowing the replacement of a sunroom with a larger sunroom at 19 Lee Avenue. The alteration results in a total floor area of 9,699 square feet, where the current maximum is 8,190 square feet (the pre-existing maximum is 9,490). The board found that the expansion would not create a detriment to nearby properties or negatively affect the character of the neighborhood, as it will not be visible to neighbors or passers-by.

Under the same reasoning, the board granted the Tom A. Bernstein Residence Trust and Andrea E. Bernstein Residence Trust variances to allow the installation of two pool heaters within the side-yard setback at 18 Jones Road