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Stray paperwork has slowed decision in La Maison Blanche case
Lost documents appear to have delayed a decision in a suit brought by La Maison Blanche owner John Sieni against the Shelter Island Zoning Board of Appeals.
Town Attorney Laury Dowd last week said she had filed papers last fall defending the board’s decision in early 2011 that Mr. Sieni had no right to use a driveway on a formerly separate residential lot behind the inn as an entry path to his commercial property. The comment at the time was that she expected a decision by November 2011.
The inn is a pre-existing, non-conforming business in an area zoned for residential use. The board ruled his use of the driveway for the inn and its restaurant constituted an unauthorized expansion of the business use.
Mr. Sieni challenged the ruling in May 2011. This spring, Ms. Dowd received a request from the Suffolk County Supreme Court for the same papers she submitted last fall. She has since provided the court with a copy.
The vacant residential parcel in question was acquired by the previous owner of the inn property, Jeanne Fenkl, when the business was operated as the Olde Country Inn. The lot is on West Neck Road behind the inn; the inn itself is on Stearns Point Road.
In his lawsuit, Mr. Sieni charges that the town’s permit administrator, Mary Wilson, improperly made an application to the ZBA asking for a ruling on the case. He argues that Ms. Wilson should have submitted the matter to the building inspector. Mr. Sieni further charges that he never had been informed the board would be conducting a hearing or any meetings at which his property would be a topic.
Mr. Sieni declined comment on the delay and his attorney, Tiffany Scarlato of Sag Harbor, didn’t return phone calls or emailed requests for comment.
Mr. Sieni found himself before the ZBA this winter when he sought to gain approval for a swimming pool on the La Maison Blanche property. While a hearing on the application started off with tempers flaring on both sides, he ultimately gained approval from the ZBA for the pool at the same time that the board approved a pool at the Chequit Inn.