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Feb 18, 2009 11:28 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Subdivision faces opposition in West Hampton Dunes

Feb 18, 2009 11:28 AM

A West Hampton Dunes property owner who wants to subdivide 2.5 acres of vacant land overlooking Moriches Bay into three smaller lots is facing strong opposition from his neighbors.

John Skudrna’s plans for his waterfront property were presented by Kyle Collins and Anthony Trezza, both of KPC Planning in Westhampton Beach, during a West Hampton Dunes Zoning Board of Appeals meeting Saturday morning. Mr. Trezza said the 2.5 acres would be split into three lots: two nearly 1-acre flag lots, with a portion of each abutting the bay, and one half-acre lot along Dune Road.

Three private homes proposed for those lots would require a number of variances from the Zoning Board of Appeals. Additionally, the West Hampton Dunes Village Board would also have to sign off on the project.

Five of Mr. Skudrna’s neighbors in attendance on Saturday said they oppose the plan, arguing that such a subdivision would lower the value of their properties.

“Isn’t it the ZBA’s obligation to protect the community good?” asked George Khouri, who owns a home at 745 Dune Road, near Mr. Skudrna’s property. “I can’t understand how this would benefit the people of West Hampton Dunes.”

The subdivision, as presented by Mr. Trezza and Mr. Collins, requires a subdivision permit from the Suffolk County Department of Health and a tidal wetlands permit from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, in addition to the variances from the village.

Because Joseph Prokop, the West Hampton Dunes village attorney, did not attend Saturday’s meeting, the zoning board was unable to make a decision on the required variances. The board is expected to discuss the application again at its March 14 meeting.

In order to create the three lots, Mr. Skudrna would need to obtain a total of five variances from the zoning board, Mr. Trezza explained. Some of the homeowners opposing the proposal said that is simply too many variances to grant one property owner.

In response to the concerns raised by neighbors, Zoning Board members requested that Mr. Trezza and Mr. Collins present an alternate plan for Mr. Skudrna’s subdivision. That plan, Mr. Trezza explained, calls for dividing the property into three identical 83-foot-wide lots, each running from Dune Road north to Moriches Bay.

Mr. Trezza said he did not know how many variances would be required to build a home on each of those lots. The alternate plan, however, also requires that 25 percent of the 2.5 acres be preserved as open space, Mr. Collins said.

Attorney Barbara Rasmussen of Westhampton Beach, who was speaking on behalf of West Hampton Dunes property owner Mike Rossi, asked if Mr. Skudrna’s parcel is included in the March 2007 lawsuit that the Southampton Town Trustees filed against nearly two dozen village property owners, challenging their ownership of redeposited sand along Moriches Bay. Mr. Skudrna said his property was dropped from the lawsuit about a year ago.

On Monday, Mr. Skudrna’s attorney, Richard Haefeli of Westhampton Beach, said he provided ample proof to Richard Cahn, the attorney for the Town Trustees, that his client’s property is not redeposited bay bottom. The lawsuit filed by the Town Trustees contends that they own an estimated 8 acres of sand that abuts Moriches Bay.

“The land was in the same form before the breakthrough,” Mr. Haefeli said about Mr. Skudrna’s property, referring to the storms in the early 1990s that submerged most of the village. “The Trustees could not make a claim of ownership of my client’s property.”

Mr. Cahn said Tuesday that he and the Town Trustees are still waiting to have a conference on their lawsuit in Suffolk County Supreme Court in Riverhead.

“No one knows right now what the schedule will be,” he said.

On Saturday, Mr. Collins and Mr. Trezza spent considerable time explaining Mr. Skudrna’s plans for developing the property. Because the village code requires that lots be at least 40,000 square feet, Mr. Skudrna would have to obtain a variance for the roadside lot that is proposed in his original plan. The two lots that would overlook Moriches Bay would not require that variance because both would be nearly 1 acre in size, according to Mr. Trezza.

In making his client’s case for the requested variance, Mr. Trezza pointed out that 79 percent of the lots in Village of West Hampton Dunes measure 30,000 square feet or less.

“These variances are not substantial in terms of the whole village,” Mr. Trezza said.

In fact, West Hampton Dunes Mayor Gary Vegliante said the average lot size in the village is around 16,000 square feet—which is about one-third of an acre.

Mr. Trezza would have to obtain width variances for the two waterfront lots under his original plan as neither would measure at least 150 feet in width—another requirement of the village code. One lot would come up about 17 feet short, while the second would be 32 feet short.

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