Two new variance applications filed by Jay Jacobs with the Southampton Town Zoning Board of Appeals are making waves once again with members of the Little Fresh Pond Association.
Mr. Jacobs, who owns a 17.3-acre tennis camp on Majors Path in North Sea through Southampton Day Camp Realty LLC, has filed an application for a change of use variance, from one non-conforming use to another, a necessary step to expand the camp into a day camp for kids. He also filed an application to add a pool as well as a sports court and playground to the premises.
Last year, Mr. Jacobs submitted an application to change his tennis camp into a summer day camp. The application met with strong opposition from North Sea residents, particularly members of the Little Fresh Pond Association, since its introduction. Those opposed to Mr. Jacobs’s plan have said that a day camp would result in an increase in noise, density, traffic and potential pollution to Little Fresh Pond and its surroundings.
In March, the ZBA ruled that Mr. Jacobs must obtain a change of use variance to proceed with his plans. Because he is requesting a day camp use instead of a tennis camp use, Mr. Jacobs is asking for a switch from one pre-existing, non-conforming use to another non-conforming use.
According to town code, the ZBA must issue a determination that the change in use would be beneficial to the general neighborhood before Mr. Jacobs could be granted the variance.
The ZBA will hold a public hearing on the applications at Town Hall on Thursday, September 6.
Although calls were not immediately returned by Mr. Jacobs or his attorney, Wayne Bruyn, Mr. Jacobs is gearing up to show that his proposed camp would have a positive presence in the neighborhood with a revised renovation plan.
According to the application, Mr. Jacobs and Southampton Day Camp Realty LLC are proposing to repair, replace and demolish certain buildings on the parcel of land, a project that would “not enlarge, extend or increase the degree of nonconformity of the buildings and structures, nor enlarge, extend or increase the degree of nonconformity of the total floor area of the sports courts.”
The renovation plan would bring the buildings up to code and also would include the conversion of water supply from well water to public water, and from cesspools to a conforming sanitary septic system, according to the application. As recommended by the Planning Board, the number of overnight accommodations is lower, and the amount of sanitary sewage flow “has been reduced from the legally grandfathered flow of 9,300 gallons per day to a flow not to exceed 6,600 gallons per day,” according to the application. The new plan also eliminates the southerly access point to the camp and provides for a connection of the southerly parking area to the center access drive.
In order to get the renovation under way, however, Mr. Jacobs needs the change of use variance from the ZBA.
While members of the Little Fresh Pond Association said they aren’t surprised that Mr. Jacobs’s application for the variance has been filed almost five months after the original ZBA ruling, they are wary about the renovation described in the second application.
“It seems he’s trying to get the little things in before it doesn’t seem like a big deal,” said John Barona, the president of the Little Fresh Pond Association. “Before you know it, it will be a big deal, and 500 kids will be there anyway.”
The second application requests the ZBA’s affirmation that adding a pool, sports court and playground in place of two tennis courts is not an expansion or change to the property requiring a variance.
According to the application, Southampton Town Chief Building Inspector Michael Benincasa said the modification does not constitute an expansion or a change requiring a variance, but because of the “controversy previously raised in the neighbors’ appeal,” he requested that the application be reviewed by the ZBA to affirm his determination that the pool, sports court and playground are incidental uses to the nonconforming tennis camp use.
Meanwhile, North Sea residents like Foster Maer have said they have “strong feelings opposing this.”
Mr. Maer, who is also a member of the Little Fresh Pond Association, said the playground, like the tennis court there now, would extend about a foot into his property.
“It’s always been fine, but it would really disturb the ability to enjoy oneself at home during July and August,” he said on Monday. He said he is also concerned about the sewage runoff that would be produced from the day camp and its effect on the vitality of the pond and the land surrounding it.