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Day Camp Opponents Appeal Zoning Board Decision

Little Fresh Pond Association files petition in New York State Supreme Court to overturn approval of pool at site applying to become a day camp.

Little Fresh Pond Association members believe that the Southampton Town Zoning Board of Appeals erred in approving a new pool at a North Sea parcel where Southampton Day Camp Realty is applying for a change of use — and now they are taking the matter to court.

The parcel abuts Little Fresh Pond and the association, which consists of area residents others concerned with the ecological health of the pond and their quiet enjoyment, has been fighting Southampton Day Camp Realty's proposed day camp at the site for well more than a year.

While the day camp opponents had a victory last March when the ZBA ruled that the project would require a change of use variance to proceed — raising the bar for approval of the camp — the developer, Jay Jacobs, had a win in December when the ZBA said a new pool would not require a variance. Earlier this month, the Little Fresh Pond Association asked the ZBA to reopen the December decision, to no avail. Now, they are asking the New York State Supreme Court to get involved.

The challenge is based on the grounds that Southampton Day Camp Realty failed to disclose its plans and obligation to construct bathhouse facilities to service the pool's bathers, and that the ZBA relied on factual errors when determining the changes neither required a variance nor environmental review.

But Jacobs told Patch earlier this month that he did not hide the fact from the zoning board that another facility would complement the pool. "There isn’t a pool on a club or a camp that requires the members to go home to change and go back," he said.

The petition further alleges that considering the proposed pool and athletic facilities apart from the overall change-of-use application for the parcel amounts to unlawful segmentation of the environmental review process, and that the new facilities would become the property's main use, rather than accessories to the existing use, constituting an impermissible change or expansion of use.

Foster Maer, the vice president of the Little Fresh Pond Association, said he believes the court will also be compelled to vacate the ZBA's decision because the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has explicitly held that the addition of an accessory pool there first requires an environmental impact statement. Maer, whose property borders the parcels in question, is an attorney; he is among the petitioners and representing the association pro se.

The petitioners are asking the court to vacate and reverse the ZBA's decision, or at least send the matter back before the ZBA to be reconsidered in light of additional information.

Barbara Marsh January 24, 2013 at 04:36 AM
It is truly remarkable and extremely disconcerting that the Zoning Board agreed to Jay Jacobs’ request to build a swimming pool on his property on Little Fresh Pond. The ZBA ruled that a day camp such as Jacobs plans would require a change of use variance. Yet they approved the pool, which allows Jacobs to take a major step towards opening a camp for children. As soon as he received this favorable ruling, he started renovations on the existing buildings without permits. He knows that he has exceeded permitted actions on the property. He is hoping that by working in winter when fewer people are around, the “improvements” will go unnoticed until it is too late. Jacobs is using the “back door” to get his 500 child day camp on Little Fresh Pond, and the ZBA just opened the door for him to do just that. When the properties around Turtle Cove on Little Fresh Pond were developed in the 1960’s, the contractors sent bulldozers in the middle of the night to extend the cove to market more of the land parcels as “waterfront.” The cove and its wildlife suffered immeasurable damage. However, it was argued that the damage was done and could not be reversed by filling the cove back in. How can the Town sit back and allow similar affronts to the Lake to happen again? Jacobs needs to get more than a stop work order. He should be heavily fined and the property should be monitored to prevent further transgressions. Barbara Marsh Little Fresh Pond
Joseph Sciame January 24, 2013 at 03:52 PM
For some 28 years I have enjoyed the calm and peace of the Little Fresh Pond area. All of us in the lFP association share those sentiments. To now have Jacobs think he can change our environment is absolutely unconscionable. Again, we all continue to ask would this ever be allowed by the ZBA if this was occurring in the Village or south of the highway. To approve a pool has opened a door to Jacobs that now must be reviewed again and closed. No pool, no extra people needed in that area. Let's keep the calm and peace thus far enjoyed.
Faustina January 24, 2013 at 07:54 PM
In reply to Barbara Marsh who commented above: it is not at all remarkable that the ZBA made this arbitrary decision and even less remarkable that tthey refuse to reconsider it in the face of evidence and facts. The callous brush off by Adam Grossman, who has sat on the Board for far, far too long, that if you don't like it you can sue is the attitude of many of the municipal boards. They only clean up their act when faced with litigation which imposes a terrible burden on the ordinary citizen both financially and psychologically. Article 78's which Grossman recommends rather than asking the ZBA to reconsider are a cottage industry out here. I commend the neighbors for accepting his challenge while commiserating with them for the burden this useless bureaucratic board imposed on them.
l dunne January 25, 2013 at 01:55 AM
The issue is the pool is "olympic size" capable of holding 50 to 100 children at one time. In order to stay below the required square footage for the variance. The Southampton Day Camp "neglected" to state that they had to make three pre-existing little cottages into bath houses which also require bathrooms showers and toilets that are currently meant to three or four people! These cottages are pre-existing non conforming and would require a variance which was not included. Then he started working on them before the ZBA even ruled on the pool.... This is not a Girl Scout Camp like East Hampton which has been there for over 40 years and has overnight campers so there is not busses every day coming and going. This is a change of use and the houses are NOT new they have been there for years.

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