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Feb 19, 2013 9:24 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

80 Wooley Street Has Been Up For Sale; Neighbors Argue A Big Profit Will Still Be Made

Feb 20, 2013 11:01 AM

The owner of a new home under construction at 80 Wooley Street in Southampton Village, the subject of a controversial application for a variance because it violates a village law governing the height of structures, actually has the house listed for sale—at a price that could bring a profit beyond the cost of bringing the house into compliance with code.

Neighbors have complained about the size of the structure, which violates the village’s Pyramid Law, which limits a home’s visual impact by restricting its height and mass based on lot size and shape. The village granted a building permit, and work proceeded, even though both the property owner and builder, Douglas Valk, and village officials failed to realize the plans violated the Pyramid Law.

Mr. Valk purchased the lot more than two years ago for about $800,000, he said, but he declined to say how much he’s put into construction. He did say it would cost roughly $150,000 to bring the building to code. The 2,880-square-foot home is currently listed for sale for $2.75 million—Mr. Valk said it has been listed through Prudential Douglas Elliman since he went through the village’s Board of Historic Preservation & Architectural Review process last year, working to address neighbors’ concerns about the design.

Mr. Valk said last week that he and his family were planning to live in the home, and that rebuilding the second floor to adhere to the law would be devastating financially. But he acknowledged this week that he has no desire to live in the home in the long term.

He said that when his family bought the parcel two and half years ago, they had every intention of living there, but when he worked with his neighbors and the ARB last year to reach an approved design, his family decided to put the house on the market.

“During the approval process, it became pretty clear that it’s not place for us,” he said. “Soon thereafter, we realized we’re not in an area where we wanted to stay and raise our kids. We don’t have good relationships there.”

Mr. Valk said that his family will still live in the home, after construction is completed, until it is sold. Neighbors of the home have challenged Mr. Valk since November, when he applied for a variance from the Village Zoning Board of Appeals to legalize the construction of his home, after the oversight came to light in late October. Rather than being forced to largely demolish the top floor and start again, a variance from the ZBA would allow Mr. Valk to keep the home as is. A decision is expected to be made at the board’s February 28 meeting.

His opponents have argued that the village should enforce the code and deny the variance request. Neighbor Walter Skretch said that he is not against Mr. Valk making a profit, but is afraid a precedent would be set. “If a variance is granted, it will never be unvarianced,” he said. “This is why we feel so strongly, but not against the builder. We’re not against his desire to make a profit, although he thinks we are.”

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The guy bought the property knowing he was going to build and make a killing. The house is listed for 2.7 million (which he will probably get), he violated zoning restrictions and now he wants a variance because spending $150 grand would be a hardship? Fix it.
By dagdavid (646), southampton on Feb 20, 13 8:36 AM
2 members liked this comment
Granting a variance would set a precedent that would be detrimental to our village.
Many mistakes or oversights seem to in the mix here. The only correct way to address them is to deny the variance and make sure the house conforms to all the zoniing laws. A good look at the Southampton Village Building Department might be in order now.
By localcitizen (110), Southampton on Feb 21, 13 8:10 AM
2 members liked this comment
There would appear to be relatively little financial hardship here, in the big picture scheme of things IMO.

Fix it.

Or stop pretending that the rules are meant to be followed.
By PBR (4956), Southampton on Feb 21, 13 8:28 AM
1 member liked this comment
So should we hold everyone to a higher standard? If you are doing 56 in a 55 zone on the sunrise highway should you get a ticket for speeding? Should the ZBA stop giving relief to home owners so they can expand their homes? People are more worried about this guys profit and are envious. The village has never looked cleaner or better, and a lot of the thanks goes to the ARB. For anyone to compare the village to Patchogue is just a jealous fool. For anyone to portray the building dept as dishonest ...more
By chief1 (2800), southampton on Feb 24, 13 4:40 PM
1 member liked this comment
You compare 56 in a 55 to a builder who bought this property strictly for profit? The town codes were put here precisely for people like this. He does not care for the quality of life of the people who actually live there, if he did he would have followed the compromise they agreed to. He's a builder and has to be held to a higher standard. Just because his violations slipped thru does not make it right. Take responsibility for your mistakes and stop blaming others. If it did slip thru the towns ...more
By Vig (5), Southampton on Feb 27, 13 6:05 PM