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Hamptons Life

Aug 7, 2017 12:54 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press & The Southampton Press

Mocomanto Homeowner Looks To Restore Historical Feel Of Home While Also Updating It

Mocomanton in Southampton Village.  DANA SHAW
Aug 8, 2017 10:06 AM

When Ken Fox and his wife, Ana, purchased the Victorian home known as Mocomanto on Lake Agawam in Southampton Village five years ago, he said its historic character was a primary reason for the purchase.

Mr. Fox—a managing partner at the Stripes Group who has been instrumental in financing companies like Blue Apron, GoFundMe and Grubhub—said last week that he and his wife care deeply about the history of the home and its contribution to the village, and because of that, they plan to preserve as much of the home as possible.

But that does not rule out making modifications, he said, as the home is in need of modifications to be able to last another 100 years. He added that he also wants to raise a family in the home, which means updating some of the features for the sake of safety.

The existing residence, located at 472 First Neck Lane, has a gross floor area of 4,787 square feet, as well as a 344-square-foot cottage, for a total of 5,301 square feet. If an application with the Southampton Village Zoning Board of Appeals is approved as is, a two-story addition to the home will raise the gross floor area to 7,203 square feet, and the cottage will be removed from the property. The cottage’s pre-existing, non-conforming condition—the status that had allowed the cottage to remain on the property in the first place—would be extinguished.

Mr. Fox said the addition will be subservient to the existing structure and, if anything, will complement it.

Today, the home is in need of repair. Shingles are falling off, some of the wood appears rotted, upper-level floors slope, and the electrical is old and outdated.

Lisa Zaloga, the architect of the project, said prior additions had been made to the home over the years that take away from its original state.

Ms. Zaloga said the design intends to preserve as much of the home as possible. For example, work being proposed to the front of the home removes an addition that was made at some point during its nearly 125 years of existence, and replaces it with something that is more architecturally compatible.

Mocomanto currently has seven bedrooms in the main residence, along with another bedroom in the cottage. Mr. Fox is looking to increase the total number of bedrooms to nine.

Plans also include removing two decorative chimneys and leaving only one functional chimney. The front door 
also will be moved from the southern side of the home to the front of the house, which faces west.

When work is completed, Ms. Zaloga said, the southern and eastern portions of the home, which are the only original pieces of the home that still exist, will be restored so they appear like they did in the 1890s.

Along with efforts to restore the home to look more like it did in its original state, the homeowner is also looking to have a variable 40-foot buffer between his home and Lake Agawam, to filter rain runoff that could potentially harm the lake.

The same buffer will create 13,083 square feet of native vegetation and could become a habitat for local wildlife, according to Ms. Zaloga.

Mr. Fox is also having a new state-of-the-art septic system installed on the northwest corner of his property. According to Ms. Zaloga, the septic system’s approval is contingent upon the ZBA’s approval of a wetland permit application.

There are 592 square feet of the 2,172-square-foot addition—between the home and the new kitchen—that fall within a wetlands buffer, requiring a permit from the ZBA. Other than the 592 square feet, the rest of the addition conforms to village code and will remain hidden from neighbors immediately to the north by tall shrubs between the two properties. Those looking across the lake from the south will also have a difficult time seeing the addition because of its low height and shrubbery, according to Mr. Fox.

Mr. Fox and his team’s efforts to cut back on the amount of nitrogen going into Lake Agawam from Mocomanto weren’t enough for some of the people in attendance at the most recent ZBA meeting on July 27.

Peconic Baykeeper Sean O’Neill told the ZBA that just because a new state-of-the-art septic system is being installed, that does not mean it will benefit the lake, because the homeowner is adding density to the property.

Mr. Fox and his team disputed that on Thursday, August 3, and said the septic system and the buffer will reduce the amount of nitrogen going into the lake from the residence by 50 percent.

“We are focusing on one homeowner for the situation at the lake, and I think there’s enough blame to go all around, and I think some responsibility must lie with the Village of Southampton,” Rob DeVinney, a member of the Southampton Village ZBA, said at the July 27 meeting. “There’s no movement to urge people to cut back on the contaminants … and we’re focusing on one guy.”

First Neck Lane neighbor Bob Giuffra told the ZBA that his experts believe aerial shots taken of the home show large drums where a portion of driveway now sits, and could be a septic system. He said those drums and what was done there needs to be investigated.

Mr. Fox and Ms. Zaloga said last week that a series of dry wells were placed in the front yard for rain runoff to drain into and then leach into the ground. They said a septic system was not installed in the front yard.

Mr. Fox said in January he went to many of his neighbors and showed them his plans, and used their input to modify the plans before submitting them to the village. After filing the plans and getting even more input, he went back to the drawing board and modified them again before re-filing them, he said, adding that all of the feedback he’s gotten has been constructive and helpful.

Mr. Fox had an application to get a height variance to exceed the village’s permissible residence height of 35 feet by approximately 5 feet, but that was withdrawn. Now, the only application with the board is to get the 592 square feet of the addition within the wetland approved.

Many of neighbors have been up in arms about the modifications to Mocomanto because of the historic nature of the home. Online petitions have been created and ads have been placed in local newspapers claiming that the home will have upward of 17 bedrooms—but that’s not true, according to the homeowner.

“This is a great house,” Mr. Fox said. “We respect our neighbors and always have.”

Ms. Zaloga said the ZBA is a very fair board, and it has a history of asking good questions. In the case of Mocomanto, she said, all of the ZBA’s questions have been addressed.

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Ken Fox and his wife sound like decent, responsible, family oriented people. I say you approve their project so the square footage meets their families needs or in the alternative they may sell and the next guy may not be so willing go preserve a great deal of it and let the place rot to death like Baxter House in Port Washington and Lands end in Sands Point.

By Summer Resident (198), Southampton N.Y. on Aug 8, 17 12:00 AM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By Summer Resident (198), Southampton N.Y. on Aug 8, 17 12:03 AM
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