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Man-Made Pond May Still Be a Wetland

Thu, 08/15/2019 - 12:47

Seeking to fill a 6,420-square-foot pond that lies 70 feet from a section of Georgica Pond, the owner of 26 La Forest Lane asked the East Hampton Village Zoning Board of Appeals on Friday for a freshwater wetlands permit.

Adam P. Bartos, who is also seeking to remove phragmites, an invasive species, from a 29,370-square-foot area of Georgica Pond shoreline on his property, was represented at the meeting by William Bowman of Land Use Ecological Services, a company that oversees wetland restorations. His client’s pond, Mr. Bowman told the board, is a man-made water body constructed between 1962 and 1974, as evidenced through aerial photographs taken at the time.

Village code prohibits the filling of wetlands, but Mr. Bowman noted in the Z.B.A. application that the code also says “man-made ponds shall not be considered wetlands.”

The two-foot-deep pond, said Mr. Bowman, is impacted by poor water quality and algal blooms. “The standing water is not the best ecological habitat and also poses aesthetic problems,” he said. Mr. Bartos proposes to fill it with approximately 1,350 cubic yards of clean fill, bringing it to a grade that would be “more marsh than stagnant water.”

After the pond is filled and the phragmites removed, the area of shoreline vegetation will be increased by 400 square feet, Mr. Bowman said, and the owner will also create a 50-foot-wide vegetated buffer farther upland, where there is currently 19,900 square feet of lawn.

Before the board delved into the details of the proposal, several members  questioned whether the pond was indeed man-made.

“The problem is that it looks like a natural drainage area,” said Craig Humphrey.

“A man-made pond is a feature created in an area where you would not find a naturally occurring wetland. This is an area where you would find a naturally occurring wetland,” said Billy Hajek, the village planner and a member of East Hampton Town’s water quality advisory committee.

Mr. Bowman said the village in 1997 had determined the pond was man-made. He cited a memo from Thomas J. Lawrence, a village code enforcement officer, who said he had confirmed it was man-made based on interviews he had conducted with individuals he did not name.

When Linda Riley, a village attorney, asked Ken Collum, a code enforcement officer, whether the village had kept records of the interviews referenced in Mr. Lawrence’s memo, he said it had not.

“We don’t have to stick to the letter from Tom Lawrence, because there’s no evidence,” said John L. McGuirk III, a board member.

Lys Marigold, the chairwoman, said the applicant and the board should research the matter further, and adjourned the hearing to September. 

David Laughlin, the trustee for a house at 128 Lily Pond Lane that is on the National Register of Historic Places, applied to the Z.B.A. for variances to construct additions and make alterations to the principal and accessory residences. The structures were built by Harrie T. Lindeberg, a noted architect.

Mr. Laughlin is seeking variances to construct 751 square feet of additions to the principal residence, including a mud room, loggia, and seating area on the first floor and another bedroom and a larger dormer on the second floor. Permission is also needed to convert a third-floor room for mechanicals into living space.

A one-foot height variance is also requested to replace the house’s deteriorating foundation. The new foundation, according to the application, would raise the house an additional foot off the ground.

The applicant also seeks variances to construct a terrace and install a hot tub within the required setback from the front yard lot line, and to make alterations to a pre-existing nonconforming accessory structure that is used as an apartment and a garage.

Leonard Ackerman, a lawyer for Mr. Laughlin, said the proposals would be sensitive to the existing architecture and would retain the house’s exterior appearance, as well as much of its interior.

“I’m very proud to make this application, because this is one of the rare occasions in my practice where I have an opportunity to see an applicant who is prepared to take an iconic home and make minimal changes to bring it up to current time,” said Mr. Ackerman.

Mr. Humphrey questioned why the hot tub had to be located within the front-yard setback, but Ms. Marigold pointed out that the residence was burdened by having two front yards. The board was in favor of the proposed plans.

Members made four determinations at the meeting.

Carol Anne Sellars, the owner of 38 David’s Lane, was granted variances to construct a detached garage 10.5 feet from the side lot line and 10. 5 feet from the rear lot line, where the required setbacks are 15 feet, as well as a variance to enclose an existing first-floor screened porch, resulting in a residence with 4,289 square feet of gross floor area, where the maximum permitted is 4,032 square feet. The latter variance was granted on the condition that Ms. Sellars submit a covenant agreeing that the owner of the home will not submit a future application for an additional screened porch.

Steven Roth, the owner of 23 Hedges Lane, was granted a variance to permit the continued maintenance of accessory improvements, including an accessory dwelling with attached garage, a tennis court, a small basketball court, a pond, an arbor, a wall, and an area of brick paving on a lot that does not contain a principal building.

Nedenia C. Rumbough and Donald E. Handelman, the owners of 104 Egypt Lane, were granted variances to install a swimming pool 26 feet from both side lot lines, where the required setback is 30 feet, and a variance to install pool equipment 16.4 feet from the northerly side lot line, inside an existing garage, where the required setback is 30 feet. The latter variance was granted on the condition that a three-quarter-inch rubber pad is placed between the pump and the floor to absorb the vibrations of pool equipment, and that no new doors or windows be installed on the north wall of the garage facing the nearest neighbor.

Mary Streep, the owner of 29 Pondview Lane, was granted a wetlands permit and variances to construct a covered porch and other improvements and landscaping, including the building of retaining walls, patios, walkways, and a driveway curb cut, as well as the installation of a cattle grate within the required 150 feet setback from wetlands. She was also granted variances to allow stone patios as close as 36.3 feet from the front lot line, where the required setback is 55 feet. The variances were granted on the following conditions: The covered porch shall remain as a porch and not be enclosed as part of the interior habitable space, and all the erosion and surface water runoff protections depicted with the application on a landscape plan by Lear and Mahoney, must be implemented as per the plan.

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