Zoning Board Grants Maidstone Approval; Neighbors Vow To Take Case To Court

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The Maidstone Golf Club is poised at last to get the go-ahead for a new irrigation system.

The East Hampton Village Zoning Board of Appeals plans to formally approve a special permit at its next meeting—but neighbors are already set to fight that decision, saying a pump house near their home will make too much noise.

“There are 207 acres on that golf course,” said Theodore Sklar of Esseks, Hefter & Angel, who intends to take the issue to State Supreme Court on behalf of his clients, Carole and Morton Olshan of Further Lane. “It can’t be located anywhere else?” he said at the ZBA’s meeting on Friday. “It’s simply unimaginable.”

The Olshans claim the ZBA did not properly vet the decision to allow the pump house on 1.5 acres of cleared woods near their home.

At the ZBA’s October 24 meeting, ZBA Chairman Frank E. Newbold said the board was satisfied with the application, which now calls for lowering the first floor of the 850-square-foot pump house, from 22.5 feet to 24.5 feet; partially burying or “bunkering” part of the west, north and east sides of the building; eliminating one door that would have faced east; and reorienting a door, originally facing west, to the south.

The newest and thus approved plan also includes a fail-safe system for both the southern door and the roof hatch on the pump house, which would shut off the pumps if either the door or the hatch were left open.

“If you want a kill switch on that, you can have it,” said the applicant’s attorney, David Eagan, of a roof hatch kill switch, during a ZBA meeting in October. “We’ve never said no in two and a half years, and we’re not going to start now.”

Mr. Eagan had asked the board to prepare a resolution of approval on the spot at Friday’s meeting, but Village Attorney Linda Riley said it was would be better to wait until the following meeting.

Conversion Approved

Despite opposition from neighbors of a former restaurant on Montauk Highway, the ZBA at its meeting on Friday approved a special permit to convert the space into offices for a Sag Harbor-based landscaping company.

Previously known as The Players Club, JL East and other chic restaurants or nightclubs, 103 Montauk Highway will now be home to Landscape Details, despite eight letters to the board from residents who argued against the application. Neighbors argued that the application should be turned down since the building is in a residentially zoned district. However, it had operated as a restaurant since the 1920s.

Most recently, the building operated as The Players Club, which went out of business two years ago, leaving the building empty and unused. Despite its falling into disuse, the board deemed the space not “abandoned,” given the owner’s attempts to rent out the space. The lack of abandonment, according to Mr. Newbold, led the board to believe the use is pre-existing, nonconforming, although the applicant still needed a special permit since the new use is still nonconforming.

Approval was granted on the condition that the new owners will not store or stockpile landscape materials outside, including vehicles or equipment, in an attempt to ease some of neighbor concerns. The board also carved out a condition to prohibit using the site for retail or wholesale sales of landscaping or plant material.

Previously, neighbors had questioned what exactly the offices would be used for, with one submitting a picture of a tree being planted at the Landscape Details office in Sag Harbor. This was an attempt to prove the space would operate more as a nursery than an office.

“That picture was not showing what it purported to show, which was the property being used for storage,” said the applicant’s attorney, John Tarbet. “That tree was in the process of being planted,” he explained, saying that the landscaping was being done as a “permanent” form of work on the property.

The board’s approval stipulates that two cottages on the site must be used as “an office and studio space for a landscape architect. The occupant of the premise shall not create separate ‘units’ on the premises,” the approval says, and “no plumbing shall be installed in the proposed studio buildings.”

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