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Mar 2, 2012 3:31 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Controversial Proposal For Front-Yard Pool Back On Table

Mar 7, 2012 10:14 AM

A controversial proposal for a front-yard pool in Bridgehampton is once again up for discussion by the Southampton Town Zoning Board of Appeals.

Assistant Town Attorney Katie Garvin confirmed that applicant Janet Finkel, the owner of a home located at 41 Hildreth Avenue, has submitted a new variance request for a modified plan for a smaller pool than in her original ZBA application, which was rejected in December. Although public hearings are closed on the initial variance request, Ms. Finkel has asked that the ZBA reopen her application as she seeks a second variance in order to “tweak” the plans to reduce the size of the proposed pool.

The matter was on the agenda for Thursday’s ZBA meeting, but it was adjourned until April 5. Ms. Garvin added that applicants ask to have their applications reopened “all the time.”

Ms. Finkel originally sought to construct a swimming pool in her front yard last year. The town’s zoning code prohibits front-yard pools unless a lot is deemed to be sited waterfront—in which case the designation of front and rear lots can be swapped for development purposes.

Through Southampton attorney John Bennett, Ms. Finkel had argued that her landlocked property qualified as waterfront, because it is located on wetlands known locally as “Sagg Swamp.” The town code does not specify what constitutes “waterfront property,” Mr. Bennett argued, and thus the term can be interpreted to include the Hildreth Avenue land, which features small pools of water and phragmites.

Chief Building Inspector Michael Benincasa offered an initial determination that would have allowed installation of the pool, agreeing that Ms. Finkel’s lot qualified as waterfront property. In December, the Southampton Town ZBA overturned Mr. Benincasa’s ruling and denied the variance.

After the ZBA ruling, Ms. Finkel filed a lawsuit in New York State Supreme Court against the ZBA and neighbor David DiDomenico, who opposed the project.

“As you know, the ZBA has already determined that a front yard pool is not in keeping with the character of this neighborhood,” Mr. DiDomenico said in an email this week. “There is nothing new in this proposal. I assume the ZBA will stand by its prior decision.”

Mr. Bennett did not return a request for comment.

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