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Herrmann’s Castle house on track for approval

JULIE LANE PHOTO ZBA member Phil DiOrio (right) points out one of his concerns about the proposed Vella house on Shore Road to ZBA Chairman Doug Matz. Ultimately, the application appears headed for approval.

JULIE LANE PHOTO
ZBA member Phil DiOrio (right) points out one of his concerns about the proposed Herrmann’s Castle house on Shore Road to ZBA Chairman Doug Matz. The application appears headed for approval.

The official approval could come at the January 25 meeting, when after years of struggling to create his dream house on the site of Herrmann’s Castle, Zach Vella will finally get the go-ahead from the Zoning Board of Appeals.

Mr. Vella has twice had major plans before the Town Board and ZBA over the years to begin work on the mansion at 85 Shore Road, also known as Hermann’s Castle, the idiosyncratic white structure rising above Crescent Beach built in 1973.

While ZBA members Wednesday night remained troubled by the height of the proposed building and a third floor observation room, they acknowledged that other structures in the area are also high and the latest proposal would be an improvement over what many consider an eyesore.

“This is really a substantial house,” member Phil DiOrio said. But he agreed with his colleagues that the current structure is even larger and higher than the proposed house.

Mr. Vella’s team has complied with several requests that have resulted in moving the house farther from wetlands; lowering it farther into the ground; cutting back some lower living space to account for the observation room on top; and eliminating living space above the garage.

“I think we have really covered everything,” builder Michael Burns said. “We’re not trying to slide one by,” he said, ensuring that the plans the ZBA has are what will be built.

Ultimately, the ZBA agreed with member William Johnston III: “It’s not totally out of character” with the rest of the neighborhood.

Town Attorney Laury Dowd will draft an approval for the ZBA’s consideration.

The project may have to go back to the Town Board because its former approval of the project was based on a two-story structure without the observation room.

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