Featured Story

ZBA rejects one application, approves a second

A couple who came to the Zoning Board of Appeals in October with pictures of their property, including what all acknowledged is a spectacular garden, won’t get the variances they sought to keep an 8-foot fence they said is needed to protect their plantings.

Judy Grodowitz and Reid Baker showed pictures of the garden along with a plea for a variance that Ms. Grodowitz said wouldn’t set a precedent because of the unique location of their property at 17B Midway Road, which is actually a dirt road off Midway.

She added that neighbors had no objection.

But that’s not how ZBA members saw the situation at their Nov. 6 meeting, despite letters from two doctors attesting to Ms. Grodowitz’s need to keep deer off her property to avoid Lyme disease since she already suffers from other joint-related pain and needed to be protected from possible tick bites.

Ms. Grodowitz said she and her husband had tried other fencing and deer-resistant plants to keep the deer away, but had been unsuccessful.

When the fence was installed, she had no idea it violated height requirements, she said. But a building inspector told her that while the posts for fencing could remain in place, the wiring was a violation and had to be removed.

The couple had initially brought their case to the Town Board, and were told they would need a variance for the fence, which only could be granted by the ZBA. The ZBA last week said the variance would violate town code that limits fencing to 4-feet and would set a precedent for others who want to protect their yards from deer.

“I don’t disagree emotionally,” ZBA Chairman Doug Matz said, phoning in to particpate in the meeting. But in terms of granting relief, he said there are many in town who would like relief from deer. He could only suggest either a 4-foot fence with surrounding hedges or a double 4-foot fence as an alternative.

Member Lynne Colligan agreed that putting a conforming 4-foot fence around the garden could suffice.

As for using a fence and hedge, member William Johnston III pointed out it could block sunlight from the garden.

The ZBA will give Ms. Grodowitz and Mr. Baker until the end of next June to find a solution that fits within the town code.

Mark and Katie Ledzian had better luck with the ZBA for their property at 36 South Ram Island Drive. Matt Sherman of Sherman Engineering told the ZBA in October that when his clients purchased the property, an accessory building with a bathroom already existed. An appraisal of the property included the structure, but there’s no indication of when the bathroom was installed or by whom.

What the Ledzians wanted was to legalize the existing structure. Mr. Ledzian said he used the place for editing film. Town Building Department records failed to show the structure as it exists today. Mr. Ledzian acknowledged he had installed a wall in the building, but maintained the bathroom was already in the building when the couple purchased it years ago.

The ZBA will grant relief providing the Suffolk County Department of Health Services permits the bathroom and attendant septic system. But with the approval will come a caveat that the space can never be converted into an accessory apartment or provide any sleeping quarters or be rented out to others.