By Christine Sampson
Plans for a pool at a house in a flood-prone area in the village were stopped short on Tuesday when three members of the Sag Harbor Zoning Board of Appeals rejected the homeowner’s bid for a variance to build a pool in what would technically be the front yard of the house.
The board did so while acknowledging that the homeowner, William Egan of 59 Garden Street, has a unique property. His house doesn’t actually have a back yard, according to his attorney, Dennis Downes, because it fronts on Garden Street, Spring Street and Howard Street.
Village code prohibits pools in front yards, but the ZBA has issued variances for them in the past. Mr. Downes went so far as to cite at least 10 other properties in the village that have pools in front yards due to their location on corner lots, but ZBA attorney Denise Schoen pointed out the law had changed at some point and it is likely that not all of those pools needed variances.
A key factor that emerged in the discussion was neighborhood flooding, which an engineer, Vincent A. Gaudiello of The Raynor Group, said would not be exacerbated by Mr. Egan’s proposed pool. The plans would not put any of the stormwater from the property into the public right-of-way, he said. While he acknowledged the plans do not account for rainwater that falls into the pool and displaces that water, he said other drainage improvements are planned for the site.
“We are containing 100 percent of the stormwater that is generated on our site,” he said. “…We are containing it at a volume that is required by your code. To make things even more palatable by your board, we’re not doing anything to obstruct it.”
Mr. Downes and Mr. Gaudiello suggested the paving of streets and driveways in the surrounding neighborhood has led to the “dumping” of water onto Mr. Egan’s property.
“I know that’s a bigger or separate issue and not really the purview of this board,” Mr. Gaudiello said, “but in fairness to this applicant, one needs to recognize what is happening. We’ve taken that into account and recognized that water is coming into our property. We’ve designed this layout and our drainage system in a way that manages that.”
When it came time to take a straw vote, ZBA members Scott Baker and Jennifer Ponzini were undecided, but board chairman Tim McGuire and members Susan Mead and Bob Plumb voted “no.”
“I think it’s an undesirable change to the character of the neighborhood and will be a detriment to nearby properties,” said Ms. Mead, who called the variance “substantial” and also objected to a pool in a front yard in the historic district.
Chris Hegedus, a neighbor, responded to the board’s action Wednesday by saying she is “thrilled and grateful that the village is paying attention to their own codes and laws.”
“The more people who develop their property, the less area there is for water to soak into the soil,” she said. “What he should really be doing is planting a lot of trees — things to soak up the water in the ground.”
Mr. Egan’s property has been in the news for several years, with the village’s regulatory boards’ approvals for plans for the raising and expansion of the house coming in early 2013 and a debate over whether wetlands exist on his property taking place later that year.
Dopo La Spiaggia Variances Formally Approved
The ZBA formally voted 5-0 to approve six variances for Dopo La Spiaggia on Bay Street, moving the restaurant a step closer to building an enclosed rear addition and a small peaked roof to house a new ventilation system, among other improvements.
Written into the decision are three conditions: That the ventilation system be a quiet, modern system to reduce the impact on the neighbors; that soundproofing in the addition is required; and that the dishwashing area be relocated to the basement if the Suffolk County Department of Health permits it to be situated there.
The restaurant will now seek approval from the Board of Historic Preservation and Architectural Review.