ZBA: Both yes and no on controversial house

JULIE LANE PHOTO | This controversial structure at 6 Cartwright Road has been the subject of several ZBA meetings.

As expected Wednesday night, the Shelter Island Zoning Board of Appeals gave the owners of a controversial house at 6 Cartwright Road a clean bill of health on one structure within the compound, but said no to what most members regarded as a second separate structure.

Only Patricia Shillingburg voted against the resolution allowing owners Peter Stamberg and Paul Aferiat to obtain a certificate of occupancy for the main part of the structure at 6  Cartwright Road, not because she objected to that part of the resolution, but because she sees the entire compound as a single structure. Her board colleagues, however, said the smaller part of the compound that was once connected to the main building is 181 square feet too small to be granted a certificate of occupancy.

“I believe the Stamberg-Aferiat house is one structure,” Ms. Shillingburg said. She described it as “a large box contained within walls that contained two smaller boxes with roofs and a pool” and said in overall size, it meets requirements.

“In my opinion, the Building Department and, subsequently, the ZBA, are wrong and, therefore, I am voting no on this resolution,” Ms. Shillingburg said.

ZBA Chairman Doug Matz abstained from voting because he was unable to be at the board’s discussion of the project.

The house, constructed of corrugated metal and concrete and painted yellow, orange, green, pink, purple and gray, drew criticism during a public hearing from neighbors who complained about noise emanating from the compound, while some wanted to see the owners surround the house with plants so it couldn’t be seen from the street.

Greenport attorney Valerie Marvin rejected that argument on behalf of her clients.

She couldn’t be reached for comment on the ZBA’s decision, but had declined comment on it when members discussed the application at last week’s work session. The applicants have the right to file an  what’s know as an “Article 78″ asking that a court overturn the ZBA ruling blocking their ability to get a certificate of occupancy

What brought the project to the ZBA was a rejection by the town Building Department for a certificate of occupancy. That decision was based on a judgement that without a connecting corridor linking the two structures within the walls, the buildings were separate and one was considerably below the minimum 480 square feet required by code for a house.

When the two men 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 corridor. The men didn’t like it and ripped it out, Ms. Marvin told the ZBA during the April 24 hearing on the application.

Both structures had been occupied by rental tenants, despite not having certificates of occupancy, and some neighbors objected to it being used for tenants. But nothing in town code prohibits such use as long as the property meets other health and safety requirements and has a certificate of occupancy.

The Suffolk County Department of Health Services had also balked at approving the structure because it hadn’t been built according to the plan. But Health Department approval has subsequently been secured.

On a separate issue, the ZBA delayed action on an application from the Shelter Island Yacht Club to use an adjacent parcel of land 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 Corporate that, in turn, is owned by the Yacht Club.

At a May 15 ZBA work session, members discussed the possibility of approving the use, but with a caveat that as long as the Yacht Club exists, it can’t sell either of the two properties separately. Again, Ms. Shillingburg has expressed a difference of opinion with her ZBA colleagues about whether there’s any need for such a caveat. But before the board acts on the application, members want to discuss it further at their June 19 work session.

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