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Icahn Sues East Hampton Village Over Gazebo Denial

Thu, 07/13/2023 - 09:48

Stung, not by a wasp — which purportedly was a catalyst for Carl Icahn to build an unpermitted gazebo at his Nichols Lane residence — but by the East Hampton Village Zoning Board of Appeals’ March 14 refusal to grant retroactive approval for the structure, Mr. Icahn sued the village in April.

The 426-square-foot gazebo was built in 2007; a 267-square-foot deck was added in 2010, both without benefit of building permits. In 2019, the zoning board told Mr. Icahn that the gazebo, as an accessory structure, violated code, and that it also violated dune setback requirements and needed a Coastal Erosion Hazard Area variance. (In fact, the entire Icahn residence is located seaward of the C.E.H.A. line.)

His lawsuit, filed in Suffolk County Supreme Court, asserts that nowhere else on the property can the same “shaded, sheltered area with beach and ocean views” be found.

In its response, entered on May 16, the Z.B.A. disagreed, saying that the main house, with its existing patios and lawn, is a reasonable alternative.

This is not the first time that Mr. Icahn, who bought the house in 1992, has gone to court against the village. In 1997 he sued after the zoning board directed him to remove a concrete patio built on a dune. The case was apparently settled, but the village now claims that the terms of the settlement were never obeyed, and that the homeowner has also ignored a prior directive, in 1994, to remove 480 feet of fencing, and lighting fixtures, within the dune.

Lisa Perillo, the village attorney, noted in the court papers that the failure to comply with the past rulings was one reason the village denied the gazebo application.

The gazebo is “highly visible from the beach and is one of a number of structures placed on the subject property on the erosion hazard area without first obtaining the requisite permits or approvals (a thing which would also set an undesirable precedent),” she wrote.

She further points out that “the subject property has already been afforded significant concessions related to the C.E.H.A.”; namely, setback variances relating to the renovation of the house, the relocation of the driveway, and the location of other structures on the 2.5-acre property.

Nonetheless, the Icahns are asking the court to annul the March 14 decision, to approve the variances for the gazebo, and to have the village pay legal costs and attorneys’ fees.

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