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Heights Property Owners warned on opinions

JULIE LANE PHOTO Alyssa Bliss will be able to install air conditioning at her house at 11 Prospect Avenue in the Heights (left) with the agreement from her neighbor, whose house is at the right. He asked only that the unit be buffered by vegetation just as his own unit is buffered.

JULIE LANE PHOTO
Alyssa Bliss will be able to install air conditioning at her house at 11 Prospect Avenue in the Heights (left) with the agreement from her neighbor, whose house is at the right. He asked only that the unit be buffered by vegetation,  the same as his unit.

The Heights Property Owners Corporation got a slap on the wrist Wednesday night for its handling of an application in May to which it originally objected and then reversed itself.

The application from Alyssa Bliss of 11 Prospect Avenue in the Heights to install an air conditioning unit originally drew a letter of objection from the HPOC indicating that area residents would have a problem with noise from the unit.

But a letter from an immediate neighbor, Michael Mills at 13 Prospect Avenue, supporting Ms. Bliss’ application and simply asking that the unit be buffered by vegetation, prompted HPOC spokesman Wade Badger to tell the ZBA the organization would no longer press its objection to installation of the air conditioning unit.

At Wednesday night’s ZBA work session, members agreed they would formally approve Ms. Bliss’ application on June 28 because “one has the right to air conditioning” and there is “no other place to put it,” in member Patricia Shillingburg’s words.

She said the proposed unit is similar to one she has at her house and that it’s very quiet. ZBA chairman Doug Matz, whose Flanders Hearing and Air Conditioning is involved in the project, recused himself from the discussion and decision.

Greenport-based attorney Valerie Marvin, who represented Ms. Bliss at the May ZBA hearing, said her client had switched to a more expensive, but quieter unit to avoid disturbing neighbors and was open to shielding the unit with vegetation as Mr. Mills had requested.

But Phil DiOrio spoke for the ZBA in taking HPOC to task for its initial letter of opposition that he said wasn’t backed up by reality since the neighbor most affected supported the application.

In the future, if HPOC is going to weigh in on applications, the ZBA wants it to name those members who object or support an application. Otherwise, the ZBA doesn’t want to consider the organization’s stance on any application without knowledge that it accurately represents the views of neighbors most likely to be affected by granting of a variance.

HPOC executive director Julie Ben-Susan couldn’t be reached for comment.

Sean Davy will get approval at the June 28 ZBA meeting for a two-story garage on his property at 25 Peconic Avenue with a stipulation that no toilet facilities be installed so that the garage can never be converted for use as living space.

Mr. Davy and his representative, Robert Hermann of EN-Consultants of Southampton, told the ZBA in May the garage is needed for storage and a possible recreation area on the second floor. Mr. Davy explained that he has been using his basement for storage in a relatively small house and needs space for boats bicycles and other objects so he won’t have to continue to lug those items up and down stairs.

Initially, he said he had no need for approval of air conditioning in the garage, but when ZBA members pointed out that mold and mildew could eventually affect the structure, he asked that he not be barred from air conditioning the space if he eventually deems it necessary.

j.lane@sireporter.com