TOWN OF ESOPUS ZONING BOARD OF APPEALS
Minutes of the July 21, 2009 Meeting
Chairman, Don Cole, called the meeting to order at 7:30 p.m.
PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE
Present: Vic Barranca, Joe Guido, Rob Hare, Kathy Kiernan, Linda Smythe, Karl Wick,
and Chairman, Don Cole
Linda made a motion to approve the May 19 minutes as written. Vic seconded the motion. All in favor.
Karl made a motion to approve the vouchers for secretarial work and Kathy seconded the motion. All in favor.
444 New Salem Road Use & Area Variances
Chairman Cole asked the applicant to explain her plans, stating that she was asking for a use and an area variance.
Ms. Giampietro explained that she had an old barn with two apartments that were there from “years ago.” She wants to incorporate the two into one big apartment with two bedrooms. This apartment will be for her grandson to move into and he plans to raise horses on the property. She also stated that she and her husband will be retiring soon and will move up from New Jersey and live in the main residence on the property, which they have been fixing up little by little.
Joe asked for verification that currently there are two apartments which are illegal and the applicant agreed. Joe asked if the applicant built them and she stated that they were there when she bought the property.
Karl asked if applicant knew when the apartments were built. Ms. Giampietro answered that she did not know and when they bought property the apartments needed a little work.
She believes the owner before her used to raise horses and his employees lived in these apartments. Chairman Cole stated that Michel Zelnik owned the property and the applicant agreed.
Linda asked if there are people living in the apartments now and the applicant answered, “Yes.”
Joe asked if there was a title search done when applicant bought the property and she replied that she didn’t know. Joe asked if she took a loan out and she answered, “no.” Joan, board secretary, stated that there was an abstract search done by the building department where she works as clerk. Joe asked if anything showed up in the search and Joan explained that Hank Pittner, the building inspector at the time, visited the site and saw two illegal apartments. The realtor asked him if they would get a clean report if the apartments were removed. Apartments were converted in some way and Hank signed the Abstract Report stating that the barn was for storage. Joan stated that at some point the apartments were back in the barn. Karl stated that it would be beneficial to the Board to have a copy of that abstract. Joan will bring it to the Public Hearing.
Rob asked applicant if she then rented the apartments and she stated that she did. The caretaker lives in one. Rob stated that he does not doubt the need for the apartments, but asked if she knew she needed a variance in order to have the apartments. Applicant responded that “they were there and she didn’t really think about it.” Chairman Cole remarked that he was aware of employees of Mr. Zelnik living in the barn apartments dating back to 1981.
Joe asked applicant if she wanted to make it legal with one apartment and she replied that that was correct. Applicant explained that now it was two apartments, one of which was a studio with one room and a bath and when she is done she will have one apartment with two bedrooms and two baths. She then detailed how the construction would change the floor plan.
Joe asked, “Where’s the use part of this variance?” Chairman Cole stated that the use is to make it an apartment and the other variance is for additional square footage. Joe stated that an accessory apartment is allowed, but this one is oversized. Karl mentioned that the apartment is allowed by right and she needs a variance for size. Chairman Cole stated that it was an additional 510 sq.ft. over allowable sq. footage.
Kathy noted that Zoning Code 123-13 D (3) states that “the accessory apartment shall have no more than one bedroom.” There was discussion on the referral from the building department which had different wording than the ZBA application from Ms. Giampietro.
It was explained that the applicant changed her mind about the project after she was in front of the Planning Board. Joe stated that when a public notice goes out, it needs to state exactly what the ZBA is hearing. Chairman Cole reiterated that the variance is for a 2-bedroom accessory apartment with an additional 510 sq.ft. over allowable sq. footage.
Joe asked why the applicant isn’t subdividing. She stated that Miles, Planning Board consultant, told her subdividing would probably raise her taxes and that she could always subdivide in the future after first getting this variance from ZBA. She said she couldn’t afford higher taxes. Joe stated that her taxes would probably go up with the accessory apartment being legalized.
Joe stated his concern that after having two illegal apartments, if variance is granted now, how does the board know that she won’t turn it back into two apartments? Applicant said, “Come and visit me every six months.” Discussion followed on the lack of follow-up on variances granted and how the board really doesn’t know what applicants do after they receive variances from ZBA.
Karl asked applicant what the square footage or dimensions of the barn were. Rob stated 40x48. Karl stated that code allows only 25% of total sq. footage, or 600 sq. feet, which ever is less, for an accessory apartment. He then did the math and stated that 25% is much more than 600 sq.ft. so she is fine with her request.
Applicant asked the board if they thought subdividing would be a better idea and Chairman Cole said the simplest way for her to get what she wanted right now was to get a variance for the 510 sq.feet. She would need to come back if she wanted to change anything in the future.
Kathy asked if the board could get a corrected notice of disapproval from the building department because the application says 1100 sq.ft. and the plans do not agree with this.
Board members looked at the plans submitted with the application and discussed the discrepancy in the square footage. Kathy told applicant that in order for the board to grant a variance, they would need to know the exact square footage over the allowable total.
Chairman Cole asked applicant to come to the next meeting with another drawing showing the exact square footage of the apartment. He explained that the drawing they have now shows 2 kitchens and 2 baths and it could be deceiving. Applicant explained the renovation and proposed floor plan. Chairman Cole explained that the next meeting is a public hearing and if the plans are finalized, the board could vote on the variance at that meeting.
Board members verified contact information with applicant and she agreed that they could visit the property with her present on the weekends.
Karl asked if the ROW on the plans meant a right-of-way to the cell tower and applicant answered that it was. He asked if the tower was far enough away and said he would check that out when he visited the property.
Chairman Cole announced that the next meeting is August 18th.
Karl told the applicant that it would be a good idea to bring along a list of the other 2-family residences on the street as she mentioned in her application. He explained that the board has to consider, “Will this change the character of the neighborhood?” as well as if there is a legitimate reason the do this. Although it would not effect the decision of the board, they consider whether the hardship was created by the applicant, which it was, because she bought the property knowing she couldn’t have two apartments or an oversized apartment. Karl stated that this does not necessary make the board say, “No.”
Lynda wondered if the main house was on a national registry of historic sites because it is 150 years old, and asked if that would make a difference with the accessory structure or future subdivision. The consensus was that it would not make a difference.
Vic made a motion to adjourn the meeting, seconded by Kathy. All in favor.
Chairman Cole adjourned the meeting at 8:10 p.m.
Zoning Board Secretary