Zoning Board: Shillingburg challenges chair for problem with absences

CARRIE ANN SALVI PHOTO | Bino’s big night Town Attorney Laury Dowd exposes her dog Bino whom she has volunteered to train, to the experience of a Zoning Board meeting. To their right is member Patricia Shillingburg and Chair Joann Piccozzi.

The chairperson’s unannounced absences from meetings of the Zoning Board of Appeals was the topic at the board’s Wednesday, June 22 meeting, when member Patricia Shillingburg challenged Chair Joann Piccozzi for letting Ms. Shillingburg arrive at sessions only to learn for the first time that she would be in charge because the chair wasn’t present.

The subject was included as an agenda item for the meeting, which also included hearings on a fire department application to install an exterior elevator in the Heights firehouse and garage renovations at a residential property on Brander Parkway.

Ms. Piccozzi explained that cell phone reception problems and her lack of a computer limited her ability to use email to notify members when she can’t make a meeting.

After a heated discussion, board members agreed that a contact person should be designated to receive calls about absences and to notify two other board members. The board did not name a contact person at this meeting.

Larry Lechmanski, chairman of the Board of Fire Commissioners representing the Shelter Island Fire District, presented the department’s case for a variance to allow an outdoor elevator to be installed at the Heights firehouse on Two Prospect Avenue. An external elevator is used in buildings that have no interior room for the equipment, he said.

Laury Dowd, town attorney, asked if there would be any vegetative screening, to which Mr. Lechmanski said that “only one person can see it, and then, only in the winter.”

Mr. Lechmanski explained that the elevator installation was to be the first step towards making the building handicapped accessible for public events. The Board of Fire Commissioners also plans to modify the bathroom and concrete curb in the future. He said the building was important to departmental events because the kitchen is the only one the department has that meets all Suffolk County health code requirements for serving the public and as such, it is used for preparations for the annual chicken barbecue and country fair.

Ms. Shillingburg said, “I appreciate you coming to explain it to us … It makes sense to me.”

With no objections, the hearing was closed and left open for written correspondence to be accepted until July 6, 2011. Ms. Piccozzi ended the hearing by telling Mr. Lechmanski, “Thank the firemen for being firemen for us.”

In another case, renovations are planned to the houses and garage at the Shearer residence at 11 East Brander Parkway and North Silver Beach Road. Plans had been redesigned based on board comments at an earlier meeting.

Matt Sherman, representing the Shearer family, explained that the proposed garage is now half the originally proposed size; the den has been modified so it cannot double as a bedroom; and space above the garage is now closed off.

Despite those modifications, Ms. Piccozzi asked how much the size of the home would increase. Mr. Sherman said the square footage would rise from 1,345 to 2,137 square feet. He added that the seaward side of the house would have increased deck and patio space where the stoop currently exists, going from 300 square feet to 686. He also mentioned that improvements would be made that would positively impact the town, including the movement of the septic system from waterside to roadside, and the installation of drywells for the collection of stormwater. He said that “the owner’s intent is that when the day is done, nobody will notice the extension.”

“I think you’ve basically done what the board asked of you,” Ms. Shillingburg said,

But a discussion between a man in the audience and Ms. Piccozzi followed in which she stated that the plan “doesn’t sit comfortably with me,” and that she would rather see a decrease in the patio extension near the water and an extension of the house above the garage.

The man explained that his mother felt that would make the house look bulkier and prevent neighbors from having a water view. Board Member Doug Matz agreed that extending above the garage “would change the look completely.”

The man reaffirmed that the current plan is “lighter on the publicly visible side,” and that the last thing his mother wanted was for the house to look big.

Members closed the hearing to verbal comments but left it open for written correspondence until July 6, 2011.