Controversial Hill Street Application Approved By Southampton Village ARB

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The Southampton Village Architectural Review Board has approved an application to construct a 5,531-square-foot, single-family home on a flag lot in the Southampton Village historical district, a proposal that was roundly criticized by some neighbors who believe the home is too large for the neighborhood.

In a 10-page decision, the ARB explained that the house proposed at 483 Hill Street, which is slated to be built by the Farrell Building Company of Bridgehampton, is significantly smaller than the village code permits for the approximately 1.2-acre property, and said opponents failed to produce anything more than opinion to prove that it would be out of scale with the historic district.

The decision notes that the builders made considerable changes to the original plan to appease neighbors, and have since gained the approval of four of the five neighbors directly next to the property who would be most affected.

“The fundamental criticism of the project by the objectors throughout the hearings was that the dwelling was too large, too massive or disproportionate in size to the neighborhood,” the decision reads. “They consistently advocated that if the applicant reduced the living area of the dwelling, the size and mass of the building would be proportionally reduced.

“The criticisms presented were anecdotal statements in the form of personal opinions and personal preferences,” the decision continues. “Although these themes were consistently repeated, the objectors failed to articulate what specific detrimental effect the dwelling would have on their properties or the historic district beyond generalized comments regarding maintenance of the status quo.”

The ARB’s chairman, Curtis Highsmith, did not respond to requests for comment this week.

According to the decision, the 5,531-square-foot, two-story home will stand at 28.3 feet, lower than the originally proposed 31.3 feet. Other changes include narrowing a front porch, eliminating two columns, reducing the size of front windows and a garage, lowering the roof line of the garage to 27.5 feet, reducing the living area by 195 square feet, eliminating an overhang over a second-story window, eliminating fascia on an enclosed walkway to the garage, and eliminating a rear second-story deck.

Representatives from the Farrell Building Company did not return calls seeking comment this week.

This week, one of the residents opposing the proposal, Ann Pyne, said she found the decision “disingenuous” and said it misstated the facts of the public hearings. Ms. Pyne, who said she plans to continue the fight, said the decision also ignored parts of the village code.

“The written decision was incredibly disingenuous and misrepresented the evidence that was put forward,” she said. “It selectively chose words from the code without addressing the intent of the code.

“Simply put,” she continued, “it edited the code according to what the board wanted to present, and edited the evidence, warping whatever evidence there was.”

In making its decision, the village evaluated the proposed gross floor area, which included the gross horizontal area of all floors, the area of a breezeway-type structure, and enclosed porches. It did not include cellars, half-stories, roofed porches, decks or balconies.

For a property this size, the maximum gross floor of the dwelling would be 7,072 square feet, but the proposal utilizes only 5,580 square feet.

“The board determines the project as modified meets or exceeds the criteria of section 65-5 [of the Village Code], is harmonious with the character of the historic district, and is appropriately scaled to the lot,” the decision said. “Two neighbors continue their opposition to the dwelling as being excessively large and incompatible with the historic district. The board acknowledges the efforts of these individuals in presenting their views over the course of six hearings, as well as the interest of other members of the community. However … the Board of Architectural Review and Historic Preservation concludes it lacks authority to deny an application for a certificate of appropriateness based upon the size of proposed new construction that complies with the gross floor area provided for in section 116-17.1.”

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