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Mar 7, 2017 3:36 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press

Ron Perelman's Attorneys Pitch Change Of Zoning At 'The Creeks' To Legalize Existing Buildings

The Creeks in 1919. COURTESY EAST HAMPTON LIBRARY, LONG ISLAND COLLECTION
Mar 7, 2017 4:07 PM

Billionaire Ronald Perelman’s representatives have asked East Hampton Village to upzone his massive estate on Georgica Pond, called “The Creeks.”

The change of zone would at the same time legalize homes and expansions that were added to the 57-acre property without building permits—some of which were discovered when firefighters responded to an emergency call in 2012.

Mr. Perelman purchased The Creeks in 1993 for $12.5 million from Ted Dragon, who had inherited it after the death of his partner, the artist Alfonso Ossorio, in 1992. The legendary Mediterranean villa was built in 1899 for the artist Albert Herter by Grosvenor Atterbury, who also designed the former Parrish Art Museum in Southampton Village.

The mansion and grounds at The Creeks, both of them graced with numerous sculptures and other artworks, over the years have hosted such luminaries as the artists Jackson Pollock, Lee Krasner, Mark Rothko and Grace Hartigan, among many others.

“The purpose of the filing is to resolve longstanding legacy zoning matters that primarily exist because of the unique nature and history of the property,” one of Mr. Perelman’s attorneys, Chris Kelley, said in a statement.

Mr. Kelley, who at the meeting was accompanied by attorneys Edward Burke and Edward Burke Jr., said later that there are several structures on the property that were either built or expanded without building permits, as well as sculptures, some of them installed by the previous owners, that did not have wetlands permits or variances.

Upzoning the property and legalizing those improvements could help protect Georgica Pond while also helping the property owner, which is technically called the Pond Acquisition Company, to avoid the necessity of subdividing the property or relocating at least some of the buildings. Mr. Kelley described them as a single-family residence with a swimming pool known as “the barn,” a potting shed expanded into a single-family house, a “carriage house” that had been a garage and security building to which bedrooms were added, and a maintenance headquarters used by the property’s groundskeeper to which bedrooms were also added.

The proposed zoning change—from roughly 4-acre residential lots to roughly 6-acre ones—would allow a total of no more than nine residences, as opposed to what Mr. Perelman’s representatives described as the potential for 13 single-family homes, while at the same time allowing him to keep the nonconforming buildings. According to Mr. Kelley, the upzoning would create a 31-percent decrease in the potential legal density of development, the lowest that exists in both East Hampton village and town.

“We want to preserve the flexibility of the property to build more in the future,” Mr. Kelley told the Village Board. “Mr. Perelman has eight children and 10 grandchildren and intends for the foreseeable future to keep the property as a family compound.”

Mr. Perelman has no plans to build any new structures on the property at the moment, according to Mr. Kelley, who said that current and future residences would have state-of-the-art denitrification septic systems approved by the Suffolk County Department of Health Services. He said there would also be an organic landscape maintenance plan that would have to be approved by the Village Planning Board, and that any future subdivision of the newly zoned property would leave half of the property undeveloped.

In an interview later this week, Village Administrator Becky Molinaro said that the board was well aware of the violations the property has against it, specifically not only the unsanctioned construction but also a failure to demonstrate that three septic systems on the property had been approved by the Suffolk County Health Department. Mr. Kelley said this week that the systems were recently approved.

“The main concern is between the un-permitted septic system, the expansions of certain structures, and the creation of new structures on the property,” Ms. Molinaro said.

Mr. Perelman and village officials have met in East Hampton Town Justice Court about the violations as far back as 2012 and as recently as late last year, she said. They were first brought to village’s attention after volunteers were called to the property to extinguish a fire, she said. “When responding to that call, it was discovered that there were a number of structures on that property that did not have permits because the village was not aware of those structures being on the property.”

According to Ms. Molinaro, the Village Board is going over each element of the proposal and “digesting” the information.

“Things happen one of three ways: by omission, by commission or by intent,” Mayor Paul F. Rickenbach Jr. said near the end of the work session. “I think that’s why there’s so much skepticism amongst the Board of Trustees. We want to see the right thing happen at the end of the day—but I think there are so many obstacles that really have to spelled out and clearly defined.”

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No need for discussion, will be granted. $$$ will get it done...
By knitter (1898), Southampton on Mar 7, 17 4:50 PM
Wait for the attorney to refer to this dawdy ego trip as ''an important piece of real estate''.
By even flow (988), East Hampton on Mar 7, 17 5:19 PM
power tools, home improvements, building supplies, Eastern Long Island