Court Upholds Sag Harbor ZBA In Suit Over Carver Street Addition

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A lawsuit challenging the Sag Harbor Village Zoning Board of Appeals denial of pyramid variances for this house at 11 Carver Street has been dismissed. STEPHEN J. KOTZ

The decision of the Sag Harbor Village Zoning Board of Appeals to deny a pyramid variance for a proposed addition to a house on Carver Street has been upheld in court.

In a three-page decision issued November 10, New York State Supreme Court Justice Joseph C. Pastoressa dismissed a lawsuit brought by Sag Harbor attorney Alex Kriegsman on behalf of the property owner, Michael Madden.

Mr. Madden, who purchased the property in 2018, sought a 5,238-cubic foot variance from the pyramid law, which regulates the height of a building in relation to the property line, in order to build a two-story addition to his house. He also sought variances to build both a garage and swimming pool in the front yard.

Although the property is 14,681 square feet, it is only about 50 feet wide. The ZBA noted that the existing house already violates the pyramid law by 3,036 square feet, so the requested addition would increase that encroachment to 8,273 square feet.

The ZBA did, however, approve Mr. Madden’s application for the pool and garage, noting that the property runs from Carver Street to Robeson Boulevard, giving it two front yards, according to the zoning code.

The ZBA first heard the matter in July 2018 and expressed concern about the size of the proposed pyramid variance and requested that Mr. Madden consider scaling back his plans. At first, he agreed to do so, but later returned with the original proposal, requesting that the ZBA approve that.

In issuing its ruling, the ZBA relied on the testimony of several neighbors who expressed concern that the addition would be too large and out of character for the neighborhood.

The ZBA also rejected Mr. Kriegsman’s argument that it should grant the pyramid variance as requested because it had issued similar variances for properties at 47 Terry Drive and 27 Harding Terrace, but the ZBA noted that both cases were different. In the case of Terry Drive, the board noted a smaller variance was requested, while the parcel at 27 Harding Terrace was a waterfront parcel, and the variances granted had little impact on neighbors.

In his decision, Justice Pastoressa ruled that the ZBA acted properly in its denial when it agreed with neighbors who testified that the requested variances were out of scale with the neighborhood and would have negative impacts on their properties. The judge also agreed with the ZBA’s findings that the pyramid variance sought was substantial and any hardship to Mr. Madden was self-created because he should have known the conditions were in place when he purchased the property.

Justice Pastoressa also rejected Mr. Kriegsman’s argument that the ZBA should have granted the variance because it had approved the two applications cited for variances in the past.

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