Tennis court plan gets chilly reception at ZBA


A proposal to build an open breezeway, tennis court, and second-story addition at a house at 24 Crossways drew opposition from neighbors and members of the East Hampton Village Zoning Board of Appeals at a public hearing on Friday.

Although the attorney for the applicants, William Fleming, argued that the project would not have a harmful effect on the neighborhood, a group of five residents and attorneys expressed concern about overuse of the property and noise from the proposed tennis court.

“Certainly, we would all like the ability to have a 7,000-square foot residence, a swimming pool, a pool house, a pool terrace, an attached garage, and a tennis court,” said John MacLachlan, an East Hampton attorney representing neighbors Elizabeth and Edward Ellers, who live behind the property on Pudding Hill Lane. “However, not all properties are suitable for all these structures. The subject premise is no exception.”

According to their application, Kathleen M. Pike and Louis J. Forster, who were in Japan at the time of the hearing, are seeking gross floor area, coverage, and rear yard setback variances to build a second story onto the house; connect the garage to the house through an open breezeway, and put a tennis court 24.4 feet from their rear property line. In order to make room for the tennis court, Ms. Pike and Ms. Forster have eliminated a pond, relocated a swimming pool and patio, and built a new pool house on the 64,012-square-foot property.

If the breezeway were built, making the garage part of the principal structure, the house would have a gross floor area of 8,295 square feet. The permitted gross floor area is only 7,401 square feet.

The tennis court is proposed to be built 24.4 feet from the rear yard property line, requiring a variance of 9.6 feet.

Speaking before the board, Mr. Fleming said that the property owners were working to preserve the “wonderful” plants on the property in their design of the project, and explained that the variance for the pool was necessary in order to avoid having to remove a 30-inch-thick sycamore maple tree.

“The improvement of this 106-year-old house will probably not be a detriment to the character of the neighborhood, and it would not decrease property values there,” Mr. Fleming said.

But some neighbors and other local residents who spoke at the meeting said the noise from the tennis court and over-use of the property would be a problem.

“I realize that we have a problem here because the Zoning Board apparently cannot stop something that is within what is supposed to be allowed, but it’s just a tragedy that this is allowed,” said Anne Gerli, who lives on Ocean Avenue. “I think the Zoning Board should pull its socks up and pay attention to what is happening to these small non-conforming lots being packed as recreational facilities.”

Mr. MacLachlan argued that the applicants could easily shift the proposed location of the tennis court in order to comply with setback requirements and eliminate the need for a variance.

Speaking at the end of the public hearing, Village Zoning Board Chairman Andrew Goldstein echoed some neighbors’ concerns about noise coming from the tennis court, arguing that the applicants could find a way to make the court conforming.

“I would not vote for a variance that facilitated a variance in any nonconforming location,” Mr. Goldstein said.

Board members also expressed objections to giving a variance for the ?proposed breezeway. Frank Newbold said that it was difficult to argue ?that the building of the breezeway ?was a sufficient reason to grant a ?gross floor area variance.

After Mr. Goldstein told Mr. Fleming that the board would mostly likely deny the application, Mr. Fleming asked for an adjournment of the public hearing until April 25, which he was granted.

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