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Apr 6, 2012 1:58 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Bridgehampton Front-Yard Pool Proposal Resurfaces

Apr 10, 2012 4:26 PM

A contentious proposal to install a front-yard swimming pool in Bridgehampton, which was defeated in December, resurfaced before the Southampton Town Zoning Board of Appeals last Thursday night, April 5—this time as a request for a pool of a slightly different size.

But there was no less controversy, as attorneys continued arguing at the public hearing for and against the variances that would allow Janet Finkel, the owner of the home on Hildreth Avenue, to build a pool in her front yard. The town’s zoning code prohibits front-yard pools unless a lot is deemed waterfront, in which case the front and back yards can be considered switched for development purposes.

Ms. Finkel’s attorney, John Bennett of the Southampton Village firm Bennett and Read, had previously argued that his client’s swampy backyard, which is filled with phragmites and small pools of water, should be considered waterfront, as the town code does not specifically define waterfront. Town Chief Building Inspector Michael Benincasa had issued a determination that the property qualified as waterfront, but the ZBA overturned his ruling in December in a 6-1 vote.

Last Thursday, Mr. Bennett disputed the earlier ZBA denial and pushed the board to grant the variances. “It’s a nicely written decision, but the problem is, it just doesn’t hold water,” he argued, claiming that the board has approved variances for other front-yard pools, some involving wetlands lots.

Fighting against the variances is East Hampton attorney Jeffrey Bragman, who is representing one of Ms. Finkel’s neighbors, David DiDomenico. “The interesting thing is that this application today is really almost a repeat of the last application. They just shaved a foot off the length and the width of the swimming pool,” Mr. Bragman said, noting that his client is opposed to a pool of any size. “They’re tinkering with the edges and the details of this application without addressing the fundamental reality: that this is an eyesore on this block and in this neighborhood.”

Ms. Finkel’s latest application calls for a 15 foot by 31 foot above-ground pool, a tiny bit smaller than the 16 feet by 32 feet originally denied in 2009. In between, she also sought unsuccessfully for a variance for a 10 foot by 18 foot pool.

“A pool does not belong here, and just because a lot is constrained by natural resource setbacks on one side and ordinary dimensional setbacks on the other side doesn’t mean, ‘Bingo, I win. I get the variance,’” Mr. Bragman said.

Ultimately, ZBA Chairman Herb Phillips granted the attorneys additional weeks to review and respond to information submitted by each other. He also urged both sides to simplify their arguments.

The hearing is set to continue on Thursday, May 17, at 7 p.m. at Town Hall.

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This would set a bad precedent. Pools do not belong in the front yard of homes. Zoning regualtions exist to allow for homogenous uses so how would this be viewed in the neighborhood overall. How will this impact the property values of others that surround it? If one goes then will all of them have front yard pools? Whats next a Shed? What about one of these massive pool houses that are sporuting up? MAybe a Tennis court. Just because the property is set way back shouldnt be a reason to allow the ...more
By North Sea Citizen (568), North Sea on Apr 7, 12 7:25 AM
3 members liked this comment
Agreed. And another point: she's on Long Island - GO TO THE BEACH FOR CHRISSAKE!!!!!
By HarborBoy (7), Phoenix on Apr 7, 12 3:42 PM
Thank goodness no opinion from building inspector "Brookhaven Mike" is in play this time. Bad precedent if approved. The answer should still be no.
By nellie (451), sag harbor on Apr 7, 12 10:06 PM
1 member liked this comment
How many of these houses by the ocean have pools? Plenty of them. Why I really don't know. Must be a city folk thing
By TianaBob (256), S.Jamesport on Apr 8, 12 10:20 PM
1 member liked this comment
Something smells fishy and no amount of chlorine will help this ruling by the ZBA over approving front yard pools. The Griswold's are coming with wackie uncle eddie to park his rv in the front yard with his inflatable pool, is what i invision for the hampton's after this ruling.
By naturalgirl1 (2), sag harbor on Sep 28, 12 10:09 AM
The ZBA is a pro-development board of hacks.
By witch hazel (224), tatooine on Sep 28, 12 10:43 AM