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Mar 12, 2019 11:03 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Southampton Village ARB Members Still Split On Gin Lane Compound, Despite Reconsideration

Southampton Village ARB member Jeff Brodlieb held his stance on an application to build a massive home and guest house at 24 and 28 Gin Lane, in the historic village. GREG WEHNER
Mar 20, 2019 9:29 AM

Nearly 17 months after a divided Southampton Village Board of Architectural Review and Historic Preservation narrowly approved a plan to build a home and guest house on a Gin Lane property, the board seemingly remains similarly split, despite being ordered to reconsider the two proposals as separate applications, and to take the size and scale of the proposed construction into consideration in its ruling.

In October 2017, the board voted 3-2 in favor of allowing international investor Scott Shleifer to build a 14,561-square-foot home along the oceanfront on Gin Lane. Along with being granted a certificate of appropriateness to build the house at 28 Gin Lane, Mr. Shleifer was permitted to build a 5,055-square-foot guest house on the attached property at 24 Gin Lane.

Board members Susan Stevenson and Jeff Brodlieb voted against the proposal at the time, while board members Brian Brady, Christine Redding and then-Chairman Curtis Highsmith voted in favor of the applications.

Neighboring property owners—Lynn Manger, William H. Manger, Top O’Dune LLC and Pamela Michaelcheck—who voiced opposition during the many public hearings leading up to the decision filed a lawsuit two months later, in an effort to overturn the board’s decision.

In October 2018, State Supreme Court Justice Joseph C. Pastoressa found that the ARB “did not apply the correct standard” when they said they maintained during discussion that the board could not consider the size of the proposed project when making their decision, since it met village zoning standards. In fact, the judge said the size and scale of a proposed structure should be part of the decision-making process for the ARB.

The board was required to re-hear both applications, this time separately. Public hearings were held in January and February, with the application for 24 Gin Lane being closed on February 11, and the plan for 28 Gin Lane being closed for written comments only until Monday night’s meeting.

On Monday, ARB members discussed the 28 Gin Lane project at length, with Ms. Stevenson, who now serves as chairwoman, and Mr. Brodlieb still speaking against the proposal.

“The proposed house, I believe, is too large,” Ms. Stevenson said. “I don’t think any of the architecture really fits … I’m not in favor of it.”

Mr. Brodlieb likened the size of the 14,561-square-foot house, situated on 3.8 acres, to that of a city block—which Mr. Coburn took issue with.

Mr. Coburn attempted to counter Mr. Brodlieb’s analogy by providing images of what the home would look like on a city block, and, ultimately, he said it would appear much smaller. “This issue of comparing this house to a city block really angers me,” he said.

Mr. Highsmith told board members after applying the standards that the board is expected to weigh, including size and scale, he still finds the final product is not in any way disturbing to the community.

He added that the reason there are five people on the board is because each brings something different to table. Included with that, he said, are different and independent views.

Mr. Highsmith said his fellow board members looked at size, while he looked at the visual impact, which is the board’s purview. “We should never apply our ‘likes,’” he said. “When you start applying your ‘likes,’ it’s an arbitrary review.”

Mr. Brodlieb said the house would be located in a very visible spot—one that nearly everyone who visits Southampton Village will pass when driving south of Lake Agawam. He said the board’s obligation is to do what is best for the community, and asked the other board members to deny the application.

“My concern is if we approve this house, we will regret our decision,” he said, later adding that if each board member can drive past the house and proudly say they were part of that project, they should vote for it.

“I think I’ll be driving by and saying, ‘I dare you to see it,’” Mr. Highsmith said.

The application was closed for a written decision.

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The video of the Board's deliberation can be viewed at the SH Village website https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CnJUtM8Mpl4&feature=youtu.be the discussion begins at 1:11 into the video.
By SHVillager! (1), Southampton on Mar 14, 19 3:45 PM
This article should mention that Ms. Stevenson was on the board of the Southampton Association while they were placing ads in The Press denouncing this project. Although she has stepped down from the Associations board, this should mean that she is entering into this decision with a biased opinion. Mr. Bodlieb sums it up best. People will have to look at this house when they go the the bathing corp... Where is the ethics board on this one?
By Draggerman (908), Southampton on Mar 16, 19 6:06 AM
8k run & 3 mile walk, Agawam Park, Southampton Rotary Club fundraiser