Woodhouse Playhouse Addition Sought

The East Hampton Village Zoning Board of Appeals looked favorably on an application to construct an addition to a century-old, historically important residence when it met on Friday.

Richard Brockman and Mirra Bank, who own the 1917 Woodhouse Playhouse, a grand Tudor building with a stage and formal gardens at 64 Huntting Lane, seek variances to construct an addition that would fall within the rear-yard setback and legalize a patio within the front-yard setback. The property is in the Huntting Lane historic district, and the proposed addition also requires approval by the design review board. 

“The proposed addition has been designed to complement the existing structure,” said Paul Alter, the project’s architect, “but it’s also been strategically located in the rear of the structure, in a corner where it will not be seen from the street.” 

The Playhouse was not conceived as a residence, Mr. Alter told the board. It was converted to residential use in 1948 and is “a challenging place to maintain.” The addition to the pre-existing nonconforming building will enhance its usability because “the main playhouse element is really impossible to use year-round. It’s not even heated in the winter, so the space that the owners have to live in is quite restricted.” 

The Brockman family, which bought the property in 1958, “have been excellent stewards of the history and the legacy of performance,” Mr. Alter said, citing concerts and fund-raising events held at the Playhouse. (The Peconic Land Trust and the Natural Areas Conservancy held a joint event there on Saturday.) Robert Hefner, the village’s director of historic services, has reviewed the proposed addition and deemed it appropriate, he said. 

“It’s a remarkable property,” agreed Frank Newbold, the board’s chairman, who said that Mr. Alter and the Brockman family “have done amazing things to preserve it as part of the Woodhouse Estate.” The proposed addition, he said, is “just about as tucked away as you could get,” will not be visible from the street, and will be screened from the nearest neighboring property by mature vegetation.

Mr. Brockman and Ms. Bank attended the hearing. “I am a strong advocate for preservation,” Mr. Brockman told the board. “I do remember what the environment here was like” in 1958, “and have done everything I can to preserve that quality of the landscape and the environment.” 

The hearing was closed; a determination will be announced at a future meeting. 

Four decisions were announced at the meeting. Charles and Karen Phillips were granted a variance to legalize the conversion of a second-story attic and storage area to a home office at 233 Cove Hollow Road. The conversion results in 9,741 square feet of floor area where the previously approved floor area was 7,872 square feet and current regulations limit it to 7,140. The board also granted a variance allowing excess coverage on the parcel. The variances were conditioned on the submission of a covenant stating that the office area would never become habitable space. 

The board granted the Hedges Inn, at 74 James Lane, a freshwater wetlands permit and variances legalizing coverage over the maximum permitted and to legalize air-conditioning units, storage bins, a wood storage rack, slate pavers, and a sign located within required property line or wetlands setbacks. The approval was granted on condition that no food or garbage be stored in the bins and that any substitution of the existing air-conditioning condensers would require a new application for variance relief.  

Edward and Lisa Williams were granted a wetlands permit and variances to make alterations and construct additions to a house at 200 Lily Pond Lane, as well as install dry wells and a new septic system, and plant vegetation, all within the required wetlands setbacks. The application was approved on condition that the proposed septic system and wetlands buffer plan are implemented prior to the issuance of a certificate of occupancy. 

The board granted Michael Braverman of 117 Montauk Highway variances to construct a swimming pool within side and rear-yard setbacks and to install pool equipment in an existing shed within the side-yard setback, on condition that the applicant plant and maintain a row of vegetation on the property line.