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Jul 23, 2013 12:50 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Court Overturns ZBA Decision On Bridgehampton Front-Yard Pool

Jul 23, 2013 5:20 PM

A State Supreme Court justice has thrown out a 2012 Southampton Town Zoning Board of Appeals decision that had cleared the way for a controversial swimming pool to be installed in a Bridgehampton front yard, contrary to the town code, sending the matter back to the ZBA.

The ruling by Justice William B. Rebolini, which was issued on July 3, stated that by granting the necessary variances for a 14-foot-by-28-foot swimming pool and deck, the ZBA made an “arbitrary and capricious” decision. The justice argued that the ZBA essentially ignored a prior decision rejecting a similar application for a slightly larger pool at the same Hildreth Avenue property, although the circumstances cited in the earlier ruling had not significantly changed.

In the original 2009 ZBA decision, Justice Rebolini said, board members outlined several valid concerns regarding the character of the neighborhood, the environmental impact on the area and privacy for neighbors. In the 2012 decision, many of those issues were not addressed or were overlooked, he said, as the smaller pool was approved.

“The ZBA did not explain in the September 20, 2012, determination why it is now, theoretically, willing to ‘jeopardize the environmental integrity of surrounding parcels’ when it was not willing to do so before,” the court decision reads.

“As the ZBA failed to articulate any reasons to justify a departure from its prior finding, its determination must be annulled, and the court need not consider whether the evidence was otherwise sufficient to support the determination.”

Ultimately, the decision remanded the swimming pool application back to the ZBA for a new decision consistent with the court findings. John Bennett, the attorney representing property owner Janet Finkel, said this week that he will go back before the ZBA seeking re-approval of the swimming pool.

On Monday morning, Mr. Bennett said that the application was approved by both the Southampton Town Conservation Board and the State Department of Environmental Conservation, and that neighbors have not tried to appeal either of those permits.

“I will continue to fight for this woman who is being victimized by her arrogant and hypocritical neighbors,” he said. “We are going to go back and demonstrate why there is no environmental impact to the area.”

East Hampton-based attorney Jeff Bragman, who was representing neighbors David DiDomenico and Arthur Romaine in the Article 78 lawsuit against Ms. Finkel and the ZBA, said he is very happy with the decision. “I think this is the Supreme Court correctly doing its job and making sure that the ZBA acts responsibly,” he said when reached on Friday.

“When the ZBA makes decisions, they set a precedent, not only for the town but for itself,” he added. “You can change your mind if you have a reason and articulate it. But in this last approval—which had the look and feel of a political compromise—they did not articulate any reason for overruling the previous denial.”

On Friday morning, Assistant Town Attorney Katie Garvin said the ZBA will reevaluate the application after it has a chance to talk to Ms. Finkel. “The court remanded it to the ZBA,” she said. “So we will process it as soon as we can coordinate with the applicant.”

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Bragman: 1, Bennet: 0

That is a stat I like seeing.
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on Jul 19, 13 12:40 PM
2 members liked this comment
The Supreme Court made the right decision. Slowly but surely, the good-old-boy times are ending and being replaced by reason and the law. Back in the day (not much past yesterday), the ZBA and most other town bodies felt utterly free to do whatever they pleased, because there was a well-oiled machine that ran things. Any decision that served the needs or whims or plans of the machine was the decision that got made and entered. If you were a friend of the organization, you were favored, and if ...more
By Turkey Bridge (1979), Quiogue on Jul 19, 13 2:53 PM
2 members liked this comment
George Lynch, have you taken a look at the contributors to the Independence Party Town Supervisor and the heavy hitters who had business before the Town. Then looked to see whether the Independence Party Town Supervisor recused herself as having a conflict of interest do to the contribution or voted. Well George she voted and never against the interest of the contributors. This is clearly and easily documented

So George, let me ask if you have ever heard of a quote from some ancient that ...more
By NTiger (543), Southampton on Jul 19, 13 10:41 PM
Mr. Lynch has demonstrated time and again that he is a political hack serving as the "attack dog" cum public disinformation officer for the Town Democratic Party, something I doubt that you would have countenanced during your tenure at the head of the organization.

Whenever possible, he should be ignored -- except when he (in whatever guise he appears here) is sooooo disingenuous that he demands to be called on his spin blather as you have done here. Bravo!

The New York State Supreme ...more
By Frank Wheeler (1826), Northampton on Jul 19, 13 11:32 PM
Anyone who talks against George Lynch doesn't really know him as I did. From a young boy George spoke his mind for the right and truthful side. Fine upstanding family, just didn't fall into line with the village and town Repubs. His mother was a fine elementary school teacher.
The State Supreme Court made a sensible and in my opinion, correct decision. A swimming pool in the front yard? How stupid.
By summertime (589), summerfield fl on Jul 20, 13 7:57 PM
The issue is not how George Lynch comported himself as a young boy, but how he comports himself here, and "right and truthful" seem to have been put aside over the decades.

He has appeared here in at least three separate identities (if not more) and argues monotonously for the Town Democratic agenda -- which isn't all bad because I can recall the days when Southampton Town Democrats weren't organized well enough to have a coherent agenda -- but does so duplicitously and under false colors.

As ...more
By Frank Wheeler (1826), Northampton on Jul 21, 13 12:23 AM
The whole board is made up of members who are political appointees. Don't be so naive turkey man the whole county government is full of political flunkies.I hate to tell you it's both political parties
By chief1 (2800), southampton on Jul 19, 13 5:37 PM
How does county government come into play on this story?
By But I'm a blank! (1283), Hampton Bays on Jul 21, 13 12:48 PM
By But I'm a blank! (1283), Hampton Bays on Jul 22, 13 11:19 AM
Blank I wouldn't hold your breath...
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Jul 23, 13 11:46 AM
Turkey Bridge may be on point for the past couple of decades but the situation was quite different in the 70's and 80's when people like Bob Nardy, Jim Pearsall, Dick Farrell, and Barbara Labrador were on the ZBA. While the law governing zoning decisions has admittedly changed since those days, the board back then operated as a truly quasi-judicial body and rendered decisions with clearly established findings of fact and conclusions of law which were very rarely challenged and less rarely overturned. ...more
By Doug Penny (64), Lexington, Virginia on Jul 19, 13 5:48 PM
1 member liked this comment
Wasn't the head of the ZBA charged and found guilty of taking bribes in this era you speak of? Wasn't another zba head brought up on ethics violations and forced out? Not to mention the back slapping favors that were done for certain people for years? That was quite an era we had here in Hazzard County Boss Hogg I remember it well.
By chief1 (2800), southampton on Jul 20, 13 1:28 AM
You don't remember it quite as well as you allege. There were no scandals regarding the ZBA until the Ed Rush debacle in the 90's.
By Doug Penny (64), Lexington, Virginia on Jul 20, 13 7:18 AM
1 member liked this comment
How long have these folks been on the board (ZBA)?
Do they get paid?
Are they part of or officers in any of the political parties?
By SHNative (554), Southampton on Jul 20, 13 8:27 AM
They get paid (though not "much") and they are all politicos, because they get appointed by their party basically
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on Jul 20, 13 9:41 AM
It's ok to "get it wrong" but it's not ok to reverse you decision without any explination. Benincasa started this all with his ridiculous determiniation that the proprety was "water front".
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on Jul 23, 13 9:11 AM
When the house was built a pool wasn't allowed that is why the land was cheap. I understand giving someone relief, but to say someone can put a pool in a front yard is a bad precedent. The ZBA is not suppose to give relief on a self created hardship, which this is.
By chief1 (2800), southampton on Jul 23, 13 9:56 AM
So again Chief, where does the county come into this?
By But I'm a blank! (1283), Hampton Bays on Jul 23, 13 5:03 PM
This county is full of incestuous boards made up of friends of politicians who know little about the board they serve. My point is we have people on boards that arent necessarily the best just the most connected. Is my opinion okay with you blank?
By chief1 (2800), southampton on Jul 24, 13 7:45 AM
Blank - I think Chief just meant government bodies within Suffolk County. I see why it would have been interpreted as "Suffolk County Government"
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on Jul 24, 13 10:59 AM
I had asked in reference to his first post on this matter of July 19 537 PM. He seems to be under the impression that the ZBA is a county board.
By But I'm a blank! (1283), Hampton Bays on Jul 24, 13 12:08 PM
No I'm not under the impression that the ZBA is a county board. Only you couldn't see that my point was appointed boards are a bunch of political cronies.I I think you have too much free time on your hands.
By chief1 (2800), southampton on Jul 24, 13 6:26 PM
Well Chief, the story is about the (town) ZBA, the (town) building dept, and (state) court. For reasons known only to you, you had to assert your opinion of county level boards. Is your attention span that short?
You could have simply responded. "oops, my bad" or "I felt like pontificating on other levels of government" But nope, you had to wait till someone else attempted to explain your actions, then you hopped on that bandwagon.
By But I'm a blank! (1283), Hampton Bays on Jul 24, 13 10:53 PM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By chief1 (2800), southampton on Jul 25, 13 8:57 AM
1 member liked this comment
blank's self-acknowledged pro-LEO bias is becoming more pronounced IMO, unfortunately, as it overshadows his often cogent insights.
By PBR (4956), Southampton on Jul 25, 13 9:06 AM
How does anything in this whole thread relate to LEO's? That's as offbase as wondering how it relates to County Gov
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on Jul 25, 13 9:15 AM
Nature, if you read the last four posts, even you can connect the dots (I think). If not, a hint or two will be provided.

Have a good weekend.

By PBR (4956), Southampton on Jul 25, 13 9:47 AM
No, I read the posts... but even if you believe him to have a "pro-LEO bias" it of course does not in any way effect the conversation at hand.
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on Jul 25, 13 10:02 AM
chief1's comment has been deleted, so further progress on your lesson in reading comprehension, and connecting the dots, will have to wait for another opportunity I guess. That comment had a phrase in it which was the topic of my OT reply.
By PBR (4956), Southampton on Jul 25, 13 1:10 PM
Golly gee, Chief, did you push the envelope again?
PBR, Chief changed the terms of the story in his first post, made a comment in the last having nothing to do with anything, and you ran with it. Nothing here has anything to do with any philosophy I have regarding LEOs. Its that simple. Stick to the matter at hand. You usually stay away from the zoo where a story on Congressman Bishop results in arguments over the validity of President Obama's birth certificate. Please don't replicate those ...more
By But I'm a blank! (1283), Hampton Bays on Jul 25, 13 4:02 PM
I can't quote the phrase to which I replied, so case closed.

Thank you for monitoring whether I appear unseemly!
By PBR (4956), Southampton on Jul 25, 13 4:17 PM