Real Estate Value Not a Valid Argument for a Variance, Says Sag Zoning Board

Posted on 17 November 2011

Ann Hotung’s desire to sell her historic Suffolk Street residence was not good enough cause for the Sag Harbor Village Zoning Board of Appeals to grant her an application for a variance to allow a swimming pool on her lot.

Hotung, who owns 9 Suffolk Street, came to the board hoping to gain a variance that would allow her to build a swimming pool within 10-feet of the side lot line where 15-feet is required.

According to David Meeves, representing Hotung at the hearing, she needs the variance in order to gain approval from the Suffolk County Health Department for a new septic system planned in concert with the swimming pool.

Meeves said the pool was necessary to sell the residence, which while once valued at $3 million has been reduced to just under $2 million and has been listed with local realtors with nary a single offer on the property.

Immediately, zoning board members appeared skeptical.

“I don’t like the argument,” said board member Anton Hagen. “It is hellacious as far as I am concerned.”

Hagen suggested the property owner look at reducing the price of the house if in fact a sale is so necessary.

“You are asking us to approve a variance so you can maximize the price of the house,” he said.

Board chairwoman Gayle Pickering added she was concerned about the impact on the neighbors if they allowed the pool to be built.

“Pools generate noise,” she said.

Board member Michael Bromberg also took issue with the application.

“The hardship you are presenting is a house in Sag Harbor isn’t marketable unless it has either a swimming pool or if you can sell the variance for a swimming pool when you sell the house,” he said. “I don’t think that is the kind of hardship we are here to deal with.”

Neighbor Duncan Haile came out strongly against the application, noting ongoing issues he has had with Hotung and the fact the pool would be literally 15-feet from his kitchen window. The application was voted down unanimously.

In other ZBA news, Brad Penuel and Andressa Costa were granted a variance for their 51 Harrison Street home in order to add a 358-square-foot expansion. T & K Redwood Associates were also given a variance to construct a new residence at their 64 Redwood Road home. Both applications will formally receive their determinations at next month’s December 20 meeting of the Sag Harbor ZBA.

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