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Dec 21, 2012 4:19 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

North Sea Camp Owner Wins Right To Add Pool

Jan 1, 2013 5:44 PM

Tennis camp owner Jay Jacobs will not need a variance to add a swimming pool, playground and sports court for kids to his 17.4-acre property on Little Fresh Pond in North Sea.

The ZBA issued a determination on Thursday, December 20, that the proposed changes are acceptable customary accessory structures to the camp’s tennis courts, meaning that the additions would complement the property much like a private pool would a home. As a result, no further ZBA action will be necessary on those aspects of the site’s development.

The decision has been met with opposition from members of the Little Fresh Pond Association, who have been battling for two years with Mr. Jacobs over his proposal to transform the modest tennis camp into a larger day camp for hundreds of kids.

The neighbors argue that allowing Mr. Jacobs to build the pool and other accessories would essentially allow him to “back into” his proposed day camp plans. In order to convert the tennis camp into a summer camp, Mr. Jacobs would need a change of use variance—from one pre-existing, non-conforming use to another. The tennis camp predates the residential zoning designation of the surrounding area and operates as a pre-existing, non-conforming use. Earlier this year, the Town Planning Board ruled that considering the change of use would require an exhaustive environmental review, an expensive and lengthy proposition. A separate change of use application will be heard by the ZBA again at Thursday night’s meeting at 7 p.m. at Town Hall.

In a letter to Mr. Jacobs in June, Southampton Town Chief Building Inspector Michael Benincasa said that a variance for the modifications was not needed, but suggested that Mr. Jacobs double check with the ZBA, since Mr. Benincasa’s last decision regarding the camp, which said that Mr. Jacobs did not need a change of use variance for his proposed day camp, was overturned by the ZBA in March.

Heeding his advice, Mr. Jacobs submitted an application seeking the ZBA’s confirmation of Mr. Benincasa’s determination. A public hearing was held in September, but the decision was postponed until December 20.

Now that the ZBA has agreed that the swimming pool, playground and sports court are acceptable accessory structures at the tennis camp, Mr. Jacobs has the green light to begin the work.

Following the ZBA ruling, neighbors voiced outrage. The addition of a swimming pool could attract three times as many people to the property as the rest of the tennis club’s facilities currently do, claimed Majors Path resident Foster Maer. “That’s not what an accessory use is supposed to do,” he said. “It’s supposed to be incidental, not dominant.”

According to John Barona, president of the Little Fresh Pond Association, the group intends to file an Article 78 lawsuit in state court, challenging the ZBA decision by arguing that Mr. Jacobs was “segmenting the job” by getting approval for pieces of his potential day camp. The group has 30 days from the determination to do so.

Just days before the ZBA offered its determination on the accessory structures, contractors working for Mr. Jacobs were issued a stop work order by Town Building Department officials for beginning renovations to one of the cottages on the property without a building permit. Neighbors of the camp tipped off building officials when they saw the construction going on.

“It is believed that the repairs and minor interior remodeling being undertaken on the premises do not require a permit under the code,” Mr. Jacobs’s attorney, Wayne Bruyn of O’Shea, Marcincuk and Bruyn LLP, said this week. “If it is determined that any of the work does, in fact, require a permit, my client will, of course, apply for one.”

Mr. Barona said that Mr. Jacobs’s whole plan hasn’t been submitted to the town and said he is “getting stuff done backward.”

“My client has further advised that the efforts of those neighbors who seek to destroy a business that while operating less successfully for years predates most of the homeownership in the area of the tennis club and camp will not be successful,” Mr. Bruyn stated.

Also last month, a State Supreme Court judge ordered Mr. Jacobs to pay $43,000 in legal fees incurred by two neighbors, Mr. Barona and John Gorman, whom he sued for defamation of character. Earlier this year, the same judge, Justice John J.J. Jones Jr., had declared that the defamation case, which claimed the men had libeled Mr. Jacobs with a flier they distributed criticizing Mr. Jacobs’s camp proposal, was just a SLAPP lawsuit, intended to discourage public opposition to his plans. Mr. Jacobs had sued the two men for $45 million.

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Can you still call it a tennis camp after you take out 10 tennis courts to accommodate the swimming pools? How many courts will be left? Will they loose their status a tennis camp or change it to swimming camp?
By V.Tomanoku (790), southampton on Dec 21, 12 8:20 PM
V: They are replacing three - still will have 7 courts + a chil'ds court. Net loss of 2 (20%). They are accessory structures - it has no real bearing on the principle use of the property
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on Dec 21, 12 9:26 PM
Yes. Thank you I misread that. Hopefully they build an indoor pool so that it can be enjoyed year round by the community. Also they can provide pool facilities for local schools and offer lessons like the YMCA in EH.
By V.Tomanoku (790), southampton on Dec 21, 12 11:50 PM
1 member liked this comment
They can???? Why would they? It's a high profit margin business targeted to very upscale, non-resident parents. There is a public facility for the community, literally, just up the road from this property. North Sea does not need this.
By East End 2 (151), Southampton on Jan 9, 13 6:41 AM
Well if no one chooses to send their kids there - he doesn't make money and has to sell the property. Boycott it and you're doing your part
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on Jan 9, 13 8:00 AM
Silly that the State Dem Leader had to step down to make oney (????) isn't it?
By Board Watcher (534), East Hampton on Dec 21, 12 10:10 PM
Board Watcher, the new Governor decides who the State Leader is. Mr. Jacobs departure had nothing to do with Little Fresh. You can bet 10 tennis courts it was Governor Cuomo's decision not Mr. Jacobs.
By NTiger (543), Southampton on Jan 6, 13 12:21 AM
In my opinion, this is a misuse of land mangement!!! Why would a person
purchase this land in the middle of a quiet community between two bodies
of water -- if only for personal interest??? Again, I repeat, purchase this
land under conservation and leave this community in peace!!!! We have
had enough of individuals coming into our Town and changing our rural
By East Ender (64), Southampton on Dec 21, 12 11:51 PM
East Ender - not sure what you are suggesting. That it have been purchased by the Town? That requires a willing seller... are you forgetting "property rights"?
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on Dec 22, 12 12:40 PM
Even the most environmentally-friendly pools at this site would be disastrous for the pond.
By deKooning (106), southampton on Dec 22, 12 2:28 PM
Why are "environmentally-friendly pools" (salt water? ) be "disastrous" for the pond? There are at least 4 private pools closer to the pond... have they been "disastrous"?

Assuming that the pool are going in place of the tennis courts (as the article describes) the closest the swimming pool would be to the pond proper (shoreline) is 1,000 feet. The closest it would be to any open water (a pond set back from Little Fresh) is over 500 feet.

It's not like these pools are being ...more
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on Dec 22, 12 2:36 PM
All camps should be outlawed immediately! I also think that inhaling is fine but exhaling should be a crime on the east end. Who needs all that extra carbon dioxide anyway - we must save this planet .... from ourselves (or the bloggers) at a minimum!

By BIGjimbo12 (201), East Quogue on Dec 23, 12 10:45 AM
1 member liked this comment
I wonder have any of the surrounding neighbors ever been to a camp...

I used to work at Peconic Dunes in Southold. The kids who attended it were of course being loud, boisterous, and slightly obnoxious. They're KIDS. That's what they do! my other half has a 10 year old that I want to send off to camp half the time, but she's also loveable, intelligent, resourceful, focused and teachable.

Camp is a different experience for every person.

I'm sorry, but to come down on this ...more
By Allergic2Stupidity (77), Riverhead on Dec 23, 12 3:15 PM
Since Jacobs is pursuing his case to the Appellate Division, causing his victims to incur further time and expense defending against his despicable SLAPP lawsuit, here's hoping that the Appellate Division imposes a few million dollars in penalties for his 1st Amendment violation. It's the only way to deter wealthy thugs from coercing innocent civilians into yielding their rights to procedural extortion.
By highhatsize (4217), East Quogue on Dec 23, 12 10:17 PM
"It's the only way to deter wealthy thugs from coercing innocent civilians into yielding their rights to procedural extortion"

There's always "eminent domain"
By loading... (601), quiogue on Dec 24, 12 9:46 AM
"The existing 17-acre tennis camp pre-dates the designation of the surrounding area as a residential zone and operates under a pre-existing, non-conforming exemption. "

So, basically what this means is that the camp has been there longer than the community around it- at least in terms of land designation.
Therefore, those living around it could be considered the aggressors... As the camp was there first...
I knew the "savebigfreshpond.com" or whatever it was on posts all over were ...more
By The Royal 'We' (199), Southampton on Dec 24, 12 3:39 PM
No - houses were there first, it's just that the "tennis" camp was established prior to existing zoning code/law. Pre-existing/non-conforming lets you continue the use, it doesn't grant you the ability to expand that use as a given right.
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on Dec 26, 12 10:25 AM
1 member liked this comment
Jacobs used his wealth in an attempt to manipulate the law and make it a weapon for extortion. Specifically, he filed a specious action to frighten people into keeping their mouths shut. This despicable ploy has become so common a weapon in the illegal arsenal of the wealthy that the legislature enacted a law specifically designed to eliminate it (the SLAPP statutes.) Since Jacobs filed his suit with the sole intention of suppressing the victims' 1st Amendment rights, the trial judge should have ...more
By highhatsize (4217), East Quogue on Dec 26, 12 12:46 PM
1 member liked this comment
the only thing the Little Fresh Pond assn cares about is keeping this PUBLIC pond to itself. It is NOT your private pond. How is a pool disastrous to the pond?? And if you all are so worried about water quality how about not fertilizing all your lawns and landscaping.

This is a public pond and is a great place to kayak in the summer and ice skate in winter. There are several public access areas off North Sea RD; and don't let the crabby residents say you cant park there
By CaptainSig (716), Dutch Harbor on Dec 27, 12 7:01 AM
1 member liked this comment
Most of the people living near the pond moved there long after the tennis club was built. The usual not in my backyard. Ironically that pond is semi polluted from the residents cesspools. If they are worried about pollution they should cap their cesspools.
By chief1 (2800), southampton on Dec 28, 12 10:34 AM
1 member liked this comment
“Takes us beyond the much-romanticized beaches of Long Island to the rich entrepreneurs and their McMansions, the Latino workers, and the stubborn indigenous residents refusing to disappear. The book is important because it is in so many ways a microcosm of the nation.”:

- Howard Zinn, author of A People's History of the United States in regard to "The End of the Hamptons: Scenes from the Class Struggle in America's Paradise"
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Jan 5, 13 8:36 AM
“My client has further advised that the efforts of those neighbors who seek to destroy a business that while operating less successfully for years predates most of the homeownership in the area of the tennis club and camp will not be successful,”

WELL, then run it in it's "pre-existing" state, and utilize your right to renovate what is existing. Another moneyed jerk who sees profit above all else, including the people who were there before him. Maybe the site, and the use ...more
Jan 5, 13 7:38 AM appended by Mr. Z
"Beware of men who clothe themselves in 'good deeds' ..."
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Jan 5, 13 7:38 AM