Shelter Island’s Zoning Board of Appeals gave the go-ahead Wednesday night, January 25 for pool installations at the Chequit Inn and La Maison Blanche. The action opened the door to the sale of the Chequit sometime this spring.
The complete project — the pool, patio and wall and relocation of the Summer Cottage on the property — could begin the day after Labor Day. The project must be completed by May 15, 2013 to avoid interfering with spring and summer Island activities.
The vote on the Chequit pool was 3-1 with Peter Ruig recusing himself because he is a Chequit neighbor.
The vote on the special permit needed for La Maison Blanche’s pool, against which there was no opposition expressed during a public hearing, was unanimous.
The board restricted the pool’s operating hours from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. and limited its use to hotel guests and their guests. Lighting must also be in compliance with dark skies provisions.
ONE ‘NO’ VOTE
A number of neighbors opposed the Chequit pool, as did the Heights Property Owners Corporation. Board member Patricia Shillingburg voted against the Chequit resolution, but not because she objected to a pool.
She opposed the 8-foot-high wall the other board members decided to require as a noise-abatement measure. She was unable to convince her colleagues at the January 18 work session that there was no need for it.
She pointed out that the pool would be used only two or three months a year while the wall would be there year-round. It will create “a hot spot” because no breezes will be felt around the pool and “I don’t see a noise problem,” she said.
Ms. Shillingburg said she couldn’t see the Chequit pool attracting 36 screaming children at one time — a situation on which noise tests were based as an extreme possibility.
“The pool is not going to be a loud noisy place,” Ms. Shillingburg said. “As far as I’m concerned, you’re building a fence around a wading pool,” she said. “It’s so out of character with the Heights. To me it makes no sense.”
Sound engineers — one hired by the Heights Property Owners Corporation and the other by Cape Advisors, the company planning to purchase the Chequit from owners James and Linda Eklund — worked together to develop a plan for submission to the ZBA to contain noise with a wall.
Greg Greenwald of SoundSense LLC of East Hampton, the sound engineer hired by Cape Advisors, will be required to conduct sound tests after the wall is constructed.
Only after tests show it is effective can the Building Department issue a certificate of occupancy, according to the conditions imposed by the ZBA last week.
Approvals for both the Chequit and La Maison Blanche came with conditions affecting hours of operation and noise abatement provisions.
For Chequit owners James and Linda Eklund, the approval is expected to lead to the sale of the property to Cape Advisors, a Cape May, New Jersey – and New York City-based company.
“It’s never a done deal until it’s done,” Mr. Eklund said after the January 25 vote. “It allows the Chequit to have a pool,” he said.
But Cape Advisors spokesman Curtis Bashaw went a step further in a telephone interview last Thursday afternoon, saying he’s very excited about the ZBA’s action.
“This was a big hurdle for us and the Eklunds,” Mr. Bashaw said. “Our goal would be sometime this spring” to seal a deal, he said.
According to the board’s conditions for the Chequit pool, it can be used only between the hours of 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. and limit its use to hotel guests and their guests. It also requires construction of an eight-foot wall to contain noise with the wall to be designed in keeping with the character of the building. The owners will be required to use lighting appropriate with dark skies provisions; and to add seven parking spaces along the alleyway.
The Chequit owners also received permission to move the Summer Cottage on the property to accommodate the pool and patio. Water for the pool must be trucked in so as not to deplete supplies on the Island.
OTHER ZBA ACTIONS
It’s a change in paperwork, not land use, according to Pieter Ruig. His Lear-Ruig Partners LLC is asking that three lots on Ram Island Road, one of which has a conservation easement held by the Peconic Land Trust, be changed to two lots. The property is located at 25, 33 and 41 Ram Island Road.
“We’re just trying to formalize this thing,” Mr. Ruig told the Zoning Board of Appeals at a public hearing last week, explaining that for estate purposes, he wanted to combine the properties not included in the trust’s easement.
Peconic Land Trust paralegal Kim Quarty said the town Planning Board had referred the matter to the ZBA because combining the two lots would require area variances.
The alternative to achieve the same end would be to relocate existing structures on the land, Mr. Ruig said.
Mr. Ruig is a ZBA member and recused himself from the board for the purpose of the discussion.
Robert and Nina Ronzoni asked the ZBA for variances to allow an air conditioner/heat pump and a patio on their property at 5 Clinton Avenue. The ZBA kept the hearing open for written comments until its February 8 work session.