Z.B.A. Insists Outdoor Parties Are Illegal

The Hedges Inn will not be allowed to hold outdoor events, even in tents, the East Hampton Village Zoning Board of Appeals decided on Friday. The decision corroborates opinions of the village administrator and building inspector, who, in March, denied four permits for the inn, a frequent wedding venue, on the grounds that outdoor dining is not a permitted use of the pre-existing, nonconforming commercial property, which is in a residential zone. The pertinent village law took effect on Oct. 1.  

Christopher Kelley, the lawyer for the Hedges Inn, took the matter to the Z.B.A. in September after arguing against the law earlier this year. He contended that special events were a reasonable and legitimate accessory use for the inn.

In announcing the Z.B.A. decision, Frank Newbold, the chairman, referred to a 2004 ruling against using a patio at the Hedges Inn for outdoor dining. The ruling was based on the opinion that allowing such dining would “enable the owner to operate a different kind of facility altogether, a restaurant facility capable of hosting and catering large special events. The Palm Management corporation, the inn’s owner at the time, sued, but the zoning board’s decision was upheld in State Supreme Court and then in the Court of Appeals. 

Although Mr. Kelley had argued that the 2004 decision focused only on the use of the patio and did not preclude outdoor dining in general, Mr. Newbold said on Friday that there was “no language in that decision that limited it just to dining on the side patio,” and that the intent of the 2004 ruling was clear, namely to prevent the extension of a nonconforming use.

Linda Riley, the board’s lawyer, said she would draft a formal determination for the board to vote on. However, Mr. Kelley said he was likely to appeal the decision. “I will discuss it with my client, and my guess is they will disagree with the board and want to have a court take a look at it,” he said. 

In another matter, the board revisited an application from Morad Ghadamian, the owner of 20 and 24 West End Road, vacant lots he wants to merge in order to build a single-family house. The property fronts on Georgica Pond.

Mr. Ghadamian’s initial plans, which were presented to the board on Oct. 12, called for a house that would have been in excess of 10,000 square feet, plus a detached garage and accessory structures, which would require variances for an additional 1,431 square feet of ground-floor space and 2,752 more square feet of coverage than the zoning code allows. Mr. Newbold said, “The board would like to see a smaller structure.” 

On Friday, a pared-down plan was presented by Leonard Ackerman, the applicant’s attorney. The house would now require variances for 873 square feet of ground floor space and 1,842 square feet of lot coverage. 

Mr. Newbold described the matter as a balancing test. The board, he said, would have to weigh the benefits of having just one house on the lots‚ which would create less density and require just one septic system‚ versus the effects of two residences. 

Lysbeth Marigold, a member of the board, still thought the plans were grandiose. “We’re going from two empty lots to a house that, from the plans, it looks like the entire property is being covered,” she said. “If it’s not a tennis court, it’s two garages, two pool houses, two screened-in porches, three pergolas, umpteen gardens. I mean, it’s dense.”

Given the board’s critiques, Mr. Ackerman said his client might withdraw the application and build two houses instead.

Timothy Haynes, the architect who drew the plans for two houses, said that they would result in 30 percent more ground floor area and that one of the houses would be close to West End Road, whereas a single structure would be set farther back. 

“I think you’re missing the big picture here,” said Mr. Ackerman, making the case that approving a variance for 873 square feet of floor space would be preferable for both the client and the village. The hearing was adjourned until Dec. 14.

Also on Friday, the board heard from another applicant seeking to merge two lots. Michael De Florio, the owner of 18 and 30 Buell Lane, wants to combine the parcels, tear down one house and add an addition to the residence on the other lot, which would require a variance for an additional 397 square feet of gross floor space. A height variance of nearly two feet would also be required for the addition, which would exceed the 25 feet permitted.

Eric Bregman, Mr. De Florio’s lawyer, explained that the extra space is necessary to achieve the applicant’s dream, which is to install two bowling lanes in the basement. “There’s no way to get the bowling lanes in without the extra 397 square feet,” said Mr. Bregman. “Got to love the Hamptons,” Mr. Newbold said.

Before closing the hearing, Mr. Newbold said the board would also be able to consider the upsides‚ including a decrease in density on a street in the heart of the village and the need for only one septic system.   

Also on Friday, the board announced nine decisions on earlier applications.  

Joseph and Amy Perella, the owners of 43 Terbell Lane, were granted a freshwater wetlands permit for 250 linear feet of coir logs along the Hook Pond shoreline and granted permission to plant vegetation within and adjacent to the wetlands. The board asked that the following conditions apply: no grading or importation of soils or stone materials where the work is to occur, written notice two days before the work begins and within two days of its completion, and that the applicant plant bayberry at three to five-foot intervals along the edge of the lawn to prevent inadvertent mowing of the natural buffer.

David Gallo, the owner of 94 Apaquogue Road, was granted a freshwater wetlands permit to mechanically excavate phragmites and replant the adjacent area with native species in conformance with a plan prepared by Land Use Ecological Services. The following conditions apply: The applicant must provide written notice two days prior to beginning the work and within two days of its completion, a final “as built” survey showing the limits of the lawn, that only temporary irrigation be used to establish plantings in the buffer area and that no fertilizers be used in that area.

The Cohan Revocable Trust, which owns 12 Hither Lane, was granted an area variance to allow the construction of additions to a residence resulting in 8,270 square feet of gross floor area, where the maximum permitted is 7,852 square feet. Variances were also granted for a 19.7-foot side yard setback to allow a second story over an existing garage, and to allow 17,217 square feet of coverage where the maximum is 14,674 square feet. The variances were granted on the condition that the applicant provide a certified copy of a covenant that would be binding on any successor and that stipulates that the existing three-car garage will not be used for anything but storage of motor vehicles. 

Sheila and Taylor Smith, who own 36 Maidstone Avenue, were granted a 1.4-foot variance to legalize an air-conditioning condenser and a 167-foot variance to allow 1,667 square feet of coverage, where the maximum is 1,500 square feet. 

Roger and Kathryn Barton, the owners of 213 Main Street, were granted area variances of approximately 14 feet and 10 feet from the side lot line to construct an addition that will include a shed and a kitchen. 

Peter Morton, the owner of 57 West End Road, was granted variances to install a generator within the coastal erosion hazard line on the condition that there be no use of the generator except in power outages and for one 20-minute test period per week, only on a Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday. 

Michael Smith, the owner of 101 Lily Pond Lane, was granted variances to make alterations of a swimming pool, to legalize an air-conditioning condenser, and to install a weather station, all of which are seaward of the coastal erosion hazard line, on the condition that the construction plans submitted by J. Tortorella Custom Pools is implemented in full. 

Katharine Rayner, the owner of 85 West End Road, was granted coastal erosion hazard and dune setback variances to permit the construction of two second-floor dormers on the condition that the construction adhere to plans submitted by John Hummel and Associates. 

The Gerli family, owners of 58 Ocean Avenue, was granted a variance to legalize a children’s play set, which is 1.8 feet from the rear lot line where the required setback is 20 feet.