Sag Harbor ZBA to Petition Park Board on Behalf of Nearby Resident

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Baseballs in Mashashimuet Park have caused problems for at least one nearby homeowner.

By Christine Sampson

The difference between a six-foot-tall fence and a seven-foot-tall fence meant different things to the Sag Harbor Zoning Board of Appeals and to Archibald Way residents Kathleen Ewing and Thomas DiPrete, and ultimately led to the ZBA stepping in to lobby the Mashashimuet Park Board of Directors to address the problem of baseballs coming over adjacent residents’ fences.

Ms. Ewing, who sought a variance to upgrade her six-foot backyard fence to a seven-foot fence, said she believes the taller fence would likely mean fewer stray baseballs coming over the fence from the batting cage at Mashashimuet Park, which borders her backyard. She suggested either the players were not standing in the netted batting cage when practicing batting, or the net has holes large enough for balls to escape.

But for the ZBA, granting such a variance would mean establishing a precedent for taller backyard fences in the village, which ZBA chairman Tim McGuire said he was not eager to do.

“We are constantly dealing with balls flying over the fence and also the noise of the bats,” Ms. Ewing said. “We want to raise the fence to block the line of sight and to reduce the number of balls.”

But Mr. McGuire questioned whether one foot in extra height would help, and said he would not support Ms. Ewing’s request for the taller fence.

“A lot of people would like to have a fence higher than six feet, myself included. There’s a whole row of fencing there — some of them look like they’re not to code anyway,” he said. “Just speaking for myself, I’m a little concerned there’s not enough particularity about this to establish the precedent … and I’m not sure that will do away with the problem.”

After taking a straw vote, in which his colleagues on the ZBA agreed with him, Mr. McGuire offered up an alternative. A letter will be sent from the board to the park’s leadership in an attempt to lobby the park to address the problem of baseballs flying into neighbors’ yards, perhaps by relocating the batting cages or some other compromise.

“We’ll address a larger problem,” he said.

Ms. Ewing agreed to table the variance request to the ZBA’s May 16 meeting to await a response to the ZBA’s letter to the the Mashashimuet Park board.

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