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Dec 13, 2011 11:16 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Southampton ZBA To Consider Bridgehampton Frontyard Pool Application On Thursday

Dec 14, 2011 9:32 AM

A decision by the Southampton Town Zoning Board of Appeals on Thursday, December 15, could help clarify what is considered waterfront property in the town.

Specifically, the board will judge whether Chief Building Inspector Michael Benincasa erred in his decision to declare a Bridgehampton property owner’s land waterfront property last year to allow a pool to be installed in the front yard of the Hildreth Avenue home. Homeowner Janet Finkel’s attorney, John Bennett, of the Southampton firm, Bennett and Reid, argued that the backyard of the property is made up of wetlands and should be considered waterfront because it contains kettleholes filled with water that Mr. Bennett describes as “ponds.” Under town code, the front and rear yards of a waterfront home can swap spots, which allow the pool to be built in the front yard.

Neighbors who live near the home, located on Hildreth Avenue, have challenged Mr. Benincasa’s determination through their East Hampton-based attorney Jeffrey Bragman. Mr. Bragman has argued that there are no ponds on the property and that the waterfront ruling stretches the definition of waterfront while setting a dangerous precedent.

ZBA Vice Chairman Adam Grossman, who is the lead board member on the application, declined to divulge how he would vote this week. “Before determinations are rendered, I don’t indicate what my position is,” he said on Tuesday. “I don’t think I’ve ever done it … because I really don’t want anyone to think I’m prejudging an application.”

The ZBA meeting will convene at 6 p.m. on Thursday at Town Hall.

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Pond's good for you
By Hambone (514), New York on Dec 13, 11 4:48 PM
2 members liked this comment
The headline for this article is misleading...there were 5 other parcels in Southampton that were designated as 'waterfront" property by the Southampton ZBA. All of these parcels had an unmapped pond in their backyard with the same exact topography involved with . The SH building inspector's determinations don't exist in a vacuum...they are based on prior legal precedent being established and are personally inspected.
By modgrrl (8), Bridgehampton on Dec 13, 11 9:45 PM
They shouldnt allow a front yard pool, then there will be precedent for others. What about moving the house forward so that there is room in the rear yard if a pool is so precious to them?
By North Sea Citizen (568), North Sea on Dec 14, 11 6:06 AM
I disagree with modgrrl, the Press has it right. The article said that there was a "kettle hole" in the wetland area, not a pond. The purpose of the code allowing pond areas to reverse the front and rear yard was so everyone around a pond area could enjoy the open view without accessory structures obstructing the view. I doubt the neighbors are concerned about a view to the "kettle hole". Also variances are given on a case by case basis if the applicant can meet the standards. All cases are ...more
By Sug Tonmi (25), southampton on Dec 14, 11 7:43 AM
there is no precedent for the area. the neighbor to the south of the property in question already has a pool in their front yard! They just don't want their neighbor to have one. Sug, a kettlehole is a small pond. North Sea Citizen, 5 other properties with the same exact characteristics and topography were granted a variance by the ZBA. You can't apply the law differently for one property owner versus the next. How would you feel if this was your property and you weren't treated the same way ...more
By modgrrl (8), Bridgehampton on Dec 14, 11 1:58 PM
And no Sug, it's because the pond represents an environmental limitation, not because it's a "view" issue.
By modgrrl (8), Bridgehampton on Dec 14, 11 2:00 PM
Calling that property waterfront is a joke. Every other property that fronts on that wetland (which is NOT a pond in any way shape or form) has their pool in the rear yard (thought from an environmental perspective that's not the best thing). Why did Benincasa say that this was Waterfront? I'm sure he let his conscious be his guide. . .

This is a joke and sets precedent for every parcel that contains or fronts on wetlands. Hopefully the BZA will side with the neighbors, require the ...more
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on Dec 14, 11 2:20 PM
Why does it matter where the pool is located? What if the house was set so that the front door was on the other side?

What makes wetlands wet? Could it be water? Then it follows that the property is waterfront.
By GaryG7 (1), Bridgehampton on Dec 14, 11 10:05 PM
Nude sunbathing on the front lawn?

Where do I sign up?
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Dec 14, 11 10:10 PM
I'm sorry, that was insulting a bit.

I should have nicely said, "Dig a pool from the kettle hole.".
Dec 14, 11 11:09 PM appended by Mr. Z
Or, in the vernacular, dig a swimmin' hole...
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Dec 14, 11 11:09 PM
Google earth only shows trees for the parcel. The determination is not for every wetlands lot. the determination is for wetlands with a pond - which there is! Standing water in a pond which coupled with the wetlands, represents an environmental constraint by law on the property. 5 other parcels with the same exact characteristics were already granted variances from the ZBA. According to NY Real Property Law, the law must be dispensed equally!
By modgrrl (8), Bridgehampton on Dec 16, 11 9:37 AM