No to Marine Blvd. Proposal

The East Hampton Town Zoning Board of Appeals voted Tuesday to deny an application from a couple who bought a house on Marine Boulevard in Amagansett in February and were hoping to replace it with a larger one. While the vote was 5 to 0 to deny, two board members found some merit in the proposal. 

The house now on the 36,000-square-foot lot is 3,800 square feet in size, and Sandra Leong and Robert Gelfond, who paid $11 million for the property, had proposed to tear it down and build a 5,236-square-foot, two-story house, with 1,372 square feet of decking and an 846-square-foot swimming pool, in its place. The new house would be closer to Marine Boulevard than the one there now. 

Under Federal Emergency Management Agency regulations, the new house would have to be raised, which triggered the need for several variances related to the pyramid law, which is designed to prevent structures from looming over their neighbors. 

The applicants were caught “between a rock and a hard place,” David Lys said. Both he and Theresa Berger liked the fact that there would be a modern septic system, among other things, and both board members seemed inclined to approve the pyramid requests, as required by FEMA. However, a request to exceed the allowable gross floor area by 115 feet was a non-starter for both.

Cate Rogers warned that approval of the proposal could lead to similar requests from other Marine Boulevard homeowners, and could end up creating a “wall of houses” looming over the street. John Whelan, the chairman, agreed with Ms. Rogers, calling the proposal a “bellwether application.” 

During a Nov. 1 hearing on the application, Roy Dalene, a board member, had pressed the applicants on the location of various structures, in particular the pool. “I don’t think I got a satisfactory answer,” he said. The vote was 5 to 0 to deny the floor area variances, and 3 to 2 to deny the others.

Also on Tuesday, the board unanimously approved a request from the owners of 57 Cedar Street to be allowed to maintain an 18-century timber-frame  saltbox as an accessory structure. The 942-square-foot house, now being used for storage, was in danger of being torn down, under town regulations that limit accessory structures to 600 square feet or less. 

Mr. Dalene, calling the application “very unique,” suggested that the town might want to revisit village regulations designed to prevent the demolition of such historical structures.