ZBA news: Owners get half a loaf, Yacht Club gets go ahead

JULIE LANE PHOTO | The main house on Cartwright Road that has sparked controversy.

Question: Will owners of a controversial house on Cartwright Road accept half a loaf or try to overturn a ZBA decision?

A ruling will  come down next week, enabling the owners to get a certificate of occupancy for the main part of their house,  but they’ll have to make changes to what is now an accessory building before it can be occupied.

That’s what members of the Shelter Island Zoning Board of Appeals decided at Wednesday night’s work session about the house owned by world class architects Peter Stamberg and Paul Aferiat at 60 Cartwright Road. The house is constructed of corrugated metal and concrete and is painted yellow, orange, green, pink, purple and gray.

But it’s not the controversial design or colors at issue, ZBA member Neal Raymond said. It’s whether the house as it stands constitutes one or two structures, he said.

“Right now, it’s two buildings,” Mr. Raymond said. The main structure is close to the town’s required code that calls for a minimum 480 square foot building; but the accessory building, at 299 square feet, would represent too substantial a variance to be granted a certificate of occupancy, members said.

When the two architects designed the house, plans called for a connecting corridor between the two sections of the structure. It was that design that was approved, but the structure as it stands today has no connecting corridor. The men didn’t like it and ripped it out, according to their attorney, Valerie Marvin, who practices out of her Greenport office.

Both structures within their compound have been occupied by rental tenants, but the men have no certificate of occupancy for either structure. The town Building Department turned them down because  the house was not built according to its approved plans. Similarly, the men couldn’t gain approval of the structure from the Suffolk County Department of Health Services because it hadn’t been built according to the plan.

ZBA member Phil DiOrio worried about granting any approvals since he said the owners had ignored the requirements and had the house constructed as they pleased in 2006. To approve the existing structure could send a message to the community that on Shelter Island, people can build what they want without concern for codes, Mr. DiOrio said.

Might it open the door for those whose plans get rejected to “work around the system and build what they want?” he asked

Town attorney Laury Dowd said they could split the two parts of the property, approving the main structure and denying “the cottage.”

Ms. Dowd will draft a statement that would do just that and a vote on that decision is slated to take place at the May 22 ZBA meeting.

Once the decision is handed down, the owners would have the option to appeal it by filing what is called an Article 78, trying to overturn the decision in court. Failing that, they would have to  bring the cottage up to code by adding to its size to gain a certificate of occupancy.

The ZBA expects to approve use of a  lot adjacent to the Shelter Island Yacht Club for storage, parking and even a possible tennis court. At issue in the case was whether a previous ZBA approval handed down in 1971 is valid since the Yacht Club filed the application, but the land is owned by the Shelter Island Development Corporation that, in turn, is owned by the Yacht Club.

The decision next week will require that as long as the Yacht Club exists, it can’t sell either of the two properties separately.