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ZBA discusses garage and air conditioning unit

JULIE LANE PHOTO This generator, installed without a permit on property owned by Alexander Lemond of 94 Gardiners Bay Drive, will be moved to an area where it won’t require a variance since a neighbor complained about its noise.

This generator, installed without a permit on property owned by Alexander Lemond of 94 Gardiners Bay Drive, will be moved to an area where it won’t require a variance since a neighbor complained about its noise.

Shelter Island Zoning Board of Appeals members had few questions for advocates of two applications — one to build a garage on land on Peconic Avenue and the other to install air conditioning for a residence in the Heights.

Because of a local hearing at Town Hall on North Ferry’s application for a rate hike, the ZBA was forced to meet May 28 in the darkened Shelter Island School auditorium. On an already cool night outdoors, the air conditioner running on full throttle in the auditorium caused board and audience members to bundle up until the unit could be turned off.

Acoustics were poor, especially when the air conditioning was running, forcing board members to ask speakers at times to repeat themselves.

Sean Daly of 25 Peconic Avenue and coastal management specialist Robert Herrmann of EN-Consultants of Southampton, asked the ZBA to grant a variance that would allow for construction of a two-story garage in the Near Shore area.

The garage, meant to provide storage space and possibly an artist’s studio, would not be equipped with any plumbing that would make it usable as an accessory apartment space, Mr. Daly said. He described his house as relatively small and said the need for storage space for items that can’t continue to be kept in the house is great.

Mr. Herrmann pointed out that the height of the two-story garage would be 29 feet and town code would allow a 35-foot one-story garage, but not a two-story unit, even though its height would be less. The variance would range from 12.5 to 13 feet when 20 feet is required by code, Mr. Herrmann said. He acknowledged that the variance is “substantial,” but said neighbors have been kept aware of the application and voiced no objection. The ZBA had only one letter from a neighbor supporting the variance.

Although originally indicating that the proposed garage wouldn’t be air conditioned, but only cooled with fans, Mr. Daly later asked that air conditioning be allowed if it became necessary to avoiding mold and mildew that could affect the structure. But he said he had no objection to any conditions being attached to an approval that would prohibit any use of the space for habitation.

A second application from Alyssa Bliss of 11 Prospect Avenue in the Heights to install air conditioning equipment at her house would require a variance of between 1.8 feet to 2.4 feet from the required 25 foot side yard requirement. Despite initial hesitation from the Heights Property Owners Corporation, its representative, Wade Badger, said after hearing that the closest neighbor to the property, Michael Mills supported the application, said he thought HPOC wouldn’t have a problem.

Mr. Mills asked only that Ms. Bliss do what she could to muffle sound from the unit with vegetation, something the applicant would be willing to do, according to her attorney, Valerie Marvin.

In a lengthy presentation aimed at making the case for the need for the unit and the reasons no other place on the property would work, Ms. Marvin explained why only the western side of the house would accommodate the unit. She outlined problems that would arise were it to be placed to the east, on a roof or under a porch.

Places on the property that would accommodate a unit without a variance would result in creating significant noise and would “look terrible,” Ms. Marvin said.

“Air conditioning is no longer a luxury,” Ms. Marvin said, explaining its need both for comfort and to avoid problems with mold and mildew. There is already significant screening between the Bliss and Mills properties, Ms. Marvin said, while agreeing that more hedged would be planted to further muffle sound.

She also explained that her client had abandoned an earlier plan to install a noisier unit that would cost half as much as the unit she is proposing. ZBA member Patricia Shillingburg noted that the installer, Flanders Heating and Air Conditioning,  provided her with a similar unit that is extremely quiet. ZBA chairman Doug Matz, who operates the company, recused himself from the discussion.

Both hearings were closed, except for written comments that can be submitted until the end of the business day on June 11.

Both will be discussed at the June 18 ZBA work session and decisions are expected to be handed down at the following week’s meeting on June 25.

The ZBA approved three applications that had been subject to earlier hearings and May 21 work session discussion by the members:

• Jeff Lightcap of 129 South Ferry Road will be allowed to construct a garage on his property that would be between 9 feet and 11.2 feet from the northerly side yard line, instead of the required 15 feet. The reason for the different variance amounts is that the garage is to be built on a diagonal line. The only neighbor near the property is South Ferry and the ZBA had a letter from Mr. Clark in favor of Mr. Lightcap’s application.

The one limit that the ZBA will put on the approval of the application is that the garage can’t be converted to living space by Mr. Lightcap or any subsequent owner of the property. It is to be used as storage space, not as an office or game room or in any other potentially residential way.

• Alexander Lemond of 94 Gardiners Bay Drive was granted a permit for already installed air conditioning units on a garage on his property. Mr. Lemond withdrew an application for a variance for an already-installed generator, agreeing to move it to an area of his lot where it won’t require ZBA action. The ZBA originally asked Mr. Lemond to either move the generator or hire a sound specialist to determine how to buffer noise so that it wouldn’t disturb neighbors.

• Philip and Alix Sherer of 11 East Brander Parkway got an okay for reconstructions and additions to their already nonconforming house and detached garage. A special permit was necessary because alterations will involve more than 50 percent of the nonconforming house. The variances to construct an addition to the house and garage will create side yard setbacks of 8.2 to 12.6 feet when 25 feet are required by code.

A front yard variance creating a 17.6 foot setback on North Silver Beach Road instead of the required 40 feet, will be approved. The approval comes with a stipulation that no further expansion will be allowed on the property by this owner or any future owner.

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