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Dec 12, 2017 5:21 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press

'The Creeks' Back In Front Of East Hampton Village

Attorney Leonard Ackerman speaking about the Creeks property in front of the East Hampton Village Zoning Board of Appeals. JON WINKLER
Dec 12, 2017 5:45 PM

The famous “Creeks” estate on Georgica Pond, the 58-acre spread owned by the billionaire Ronald Perelman and formerly by the artist Alfonso Ossorio, is back in the crosshairs of East Hampton Village government.

Attorney Leonard Ackerman appeared before the board on Friday to speak on behalf of Mr. Perelman’s application for 18 variances, which would retroactively legalize a number of buildings and other structures, such as artworks that were installed on the property without permits.

In June, the East Hampton Village Board declined to continue to review Mr. Perelman’s application to have his estate upzoned. It was a proposal that would have surpassed even the most stringent zoning in the village, thereby reducing density, but that also would have allowed multiple residential dwellings on a single parcel of land, along with additional development in the future.

The current application seeks to, among other things, legalize additions to four structures on the property—a main residence, a workout room, a religious building called a “shul” and a carriage house—that already had been made without permission from the village, along with a request for a special permit to use the shul for religious services and education, and to move two bedrooms in the carriage house into a barn on the property.

The application also includes plans to revegetate areas of “The Creeks” adjacent to Georgica Pond and install innovative septic systems in five of the buildings on the property.

“This isn’t the traditional mitigation, where we’re saying, ‘We’ll do this for you, if …’” Mr. Ackerman told ZBA members, referring to what was described in the application as a transfer of density from the carriage house to the barn that would help reduce septic waste in an effort to protect Georgica Pond. “This is mitigation that the family has been on the road to doing. I think you need to give credit to this steward for maintaining this wonderful, iconic piece of East Hampton,” he said of Mr. Perelman.

While the ZBA acknowledged the historical significance of “The Creeks,” the board did not sound eager to move forward with the application. Board Chairman Frank Newbold noted the board’s problems with how the barn had been constructed without approval, how the carriage house was expanded from two to six bedrooms, and why Mr. Ackerman cited “stewardship” as a rationale for illegally building a 5,800-square-foot barn.

“I have to think any owner is aware that to build a structure this size would need a building permit,” Mr. Newbold said. “But that’s why we’re here today.”

Village Planner Billy Hajek recommended that natural buffers between the buildings and the wetlands be reestablished “to the greatest extent possible,” and also pointed out that four of the 10 buildings on the property had septic systems installed without prior approval, with the main residence’s septic system containing two cesspools but no proper septic tank.

“The board will need to decide if all of the variance standards have been addressed, and if this proposal is adequately mitigating the relief that is required to rectify the situation,” Mr. Hajek’s analysis concluded.

The board moved to keep the discussion open until its next meeting on January 12 to have time to review all the information on the property, with Mr. Ackerman saying the time will be used to take Mr. Hajek’s specific recommendations into account and provide more information.

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