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Hearing on North Ferry Road storage facility closed

JULIE LANE PHOTO John Sieni (left) and his attorney, John Bennett, won approval to close the hearing on his controversial application to expand his storage business on North Ferry Road.
JULIE LANE PHOTO John Sieni (left) and his attorney, John Bennett, won approval to close the hearing on his controversial application to expand his storage business on North Ferry Road.

The Zoning Board of Appeals reluctantly closed the public hearing June 22 after a two hour discussion on an application from John Sieni to expand his storage facility on Route 114.

The visual impact of the construction site at 18 North Ferry Road is one reason the Town Board is investigating a requirement that all commercial property owners formally submit plans for development — a process called site plan review.

Shelter Island is the only municipality on the East End lacking one.

The decision to close the public hearing opens the opportunity for comments by mail until July 6.

But even though the hearing is closed, the ZBA wants to revisit the site to examine some changes that would affect traffic flow, parking, lighting and barriers between the facility and neighboring residences.

The ZBA is also concerned about arrangements for on-site management of the facility, despite Mr. Sieni’s argument that a tenant in a main house is helping him manage the property. The tenant has a reduction in rent for doing so, Mr. Sieni said.

Responding to complaints from neighbors, Mr. Sieni and his attorney, John Bennett, have agreed to use cattle fencing to stop vehicles from riding across the property by entering on Route 14 and exiting onto Thomas Avenue. At the same time, the fencing would allow entrance for emergency vehicles through.

The ZBA also has concerns about plantings to block the facility from the houses and also wants more than a 4-foot privet in the front of the facility.

Acting Chairman Phil DiOrio, in the absence of Chairman Doug Matz, said other storage facilities on the Island are fully screened. He said he was inclined to require that for Mr. Sieni’s business.

On other parts of the property, Mr. Sieni said trees that neighbors had planted to give themselves privacy had died because they lack sufficient sun. He has proposed fencing.

His application has been complicated by the fact that he originally got approval from the Building Department to expand the facility and spent more than $140,000 before receiving a stop work order because the original permit had been issued in error. The existing business already represents a non-conforming use of the property and Mr. Sieni should not have been granted a permit to increase the nonconformity without ZBA action, according to the Building Department.

While the ZBA agreed to close the hearing, those who want to write letters about the application may submit them up through July 6.

After more than two hours of hearings on the Sieni and Vella applications, Matt Sherman of Sherman Engineering had two applications to bring to the ZBA, promising members he wouldn’t take more than 45 minutes to explain each. He was joking and took only a few minutes each to explain what his clients want.
Thomas and Susannah Carrier of 17 Spring Garden Avenue want to expand their kitchen and need variances allowing them to encroach on the required 40-foot front setback so it would be 33.5 feet and the rear yard lot setback that’s required by code to be 25 feet, but would become 12.9 feet.

The second application was on behalf of Hanami Realty LLC for property at 8 Cove Way for a special permit to renovate and add a second story to a nonconforming house that already intrudes into a side yard setback. The existing nonconformity on the ground floor is 2 inches off what is required and the proposed second floor addition would also be 2 inches off the required setback, Mr. Sherman said.

Plantings and a small stone wall would have to be removed during construction, but would be replaced once work is completed, Mr. Sherman said.

Both hearing were closed, but the ZBA will allow letters commenting on them to come in by July 6.

As expected, the ZBA approved two applications.

Brett and Christine Haney of  70 Peconic Avenue will be able to avoid placing air conditioning units on the roof of their house.

Air conditioning units originally planned for rooftop installation by a previous owner of property can be placed on the westerly side and must be quiet units.

Robert Maloney of 10 Dickerson Drive will be able to keep a garage that was in error one foot off from where it was supposed to be constructed. But the error doesn’t extend to the full structure, but only a part of the structure, according to attorney Valerie Marvin, who referred to the placement last month as “an honest mistake” by contractor James Olinkiewicz that was only discovered with the previous house owner had to have the property surveyed.