The Southampton Town Zoning Board of Appeals has delayed ruling on whether to grant a variance that would legalize a Hampton Bays motel that has been illegally operating as an apartment complex for more than a decade.
The board was poised to decide on the request at its last meeting on Thursday, June 6, but decided instead to reopen the public hearing on the application at the request of John Bennett, the attorney representing the applicants, Domenico and Vincenza Iadevaia, who own the Tiana Pines Garden Apartments. Mr. Bennett submitted a letter to the board three days prior to last week’s meeting, asking that the application be reopened so he could submit a “condition of approval in the event the board grants the requested variance.”
When reached on Friday, Mr. Bennett declined to share any details about the condition he is now seeking, stating that it would be “premature” to do so. He added that he would discuss it at the zoning board meeting on Thursday, July 18.
Eric Bregman, the attorney for the Concerned Citizens of Hampton Bays, a civic association that opposes the conversion, also declined to comment on the delay when reached this week.
Mr. Bennett said he asked Mr. Bregman at last week’s meeting whether he would consent to delaying the decision and reopening the application, and Mr. Bregman refused to do so.
All members of the public will be able to share their opinion about the application during next month’s meeting. Adam Grossman, vice chairman of the ZBA, said he expects a decision to be ready in August.
The 1-acre property is zoned Highway Business, which does not permit motels or apartments. Mr. Bennett has argued that the business, which was originally approved by the town as a motel, predates modern zoning and that, back then, the old zoning did not differentiate between motels and apartments, meaning that the variance should be granted.
Mr. Bregman, meanwhile, has argued that there is a “common sense” difference between an apartment, which is a year-round home, and a motel unit, where people stay for a short period of time while visiting or on vacation. The code, he added, defines homes as “dwellings” but does not use that term to describe motel rooms.
Members of the Concerned Citizens of Hampton Bays have stated that they fear the conversion would place a heavier burden on their hamlet, which already struggles with its high density.