Town rethinks permit for house on tiny waterfront lot

PETER BOODY PHOTO | Jean Francois Bernheim drew applause when he spoke against plans for a 4-bedroom house on a small waterfront parcel in Silver Beach.

It makes no difference that the Town Board gave permission for a house to be built on a tiny parcel on the Silver Beach waterfront more than two years ago.

Because the controversial house was never built and the wetlands permit for it expired seven months ago, the builder needs a new permit.

“I missed it by two days,” builder Chris Fokine said at a hearing on the proposal Friday evening, August 19. “I’d appreciate it if the Town Board would renew” the permit, he said, adding that nothing had changed in the proposal.

But this time the town’s Conservation Advisory Council — which voted 4-3 in favor of a permit last time — is 100 percent against it, as was a throng of neighbors who nearly filled the Town Hall boardroom Friday. The CAC voted unanimously on August 15 to advise the Town Board to reject the application as too large for the property.

Mr. Fokine is representing Andrew Gitlin, the property owner, who wants to build a two-story, four-bedroom house with a footprint of 1,400-square-foot-plus on the 14,000-square-foot lot.

“The plans, as they are, are massive,” said neighbor Jean Francois Bernheim. He argued its “mezzanine” level constituted a third floor, although in 2008 the Zoning Board of Appeals ruled that it did not.

Neighbor Martin Mayer said, “Nobody has the right to grandfather in the ruination of somebody else’s well.”

PETER BOODY PHOTO | Builder Chris Fokine said he'd missed the deadline for renewing the Gitlin wetlands permit by two days.

Supervisor James Dougherty said the Town Board was not bound by “anything that happened in the past” and would discuss the case at its work session on Tuesday afternoon. He commented at the end of the hearing that he hadn’t heard “the hardship yet” that would justify granting the permit.