The Southampton Village Board of Architectural Review and Historic Preservation stuck with its original decision to approve a proposal to build a large home and guest house on two adjacent lots on Gin Lane.
The five board members remained as divided in their vote as they did in the first decision two years ago. The board voted, 3-2, on Monday to grant a certificate of appropriateness for both properties, which is required for construction projects within the historic district.
Board members Curtis Highsmith, Christina Redding and Rob Coburn voted in favor, while Chairwoman Susan Stevenson and board member Jeffrey Brodlieb voted against.
They all voted the same way that they did the first time—except for Mr. Coburn, who is a new member but mirrored former board member Brian Brady’s original vote in favor.
This was the latest action—and possibly the last—in the board’s two-and-a-half-year engagement with an application that has resulted in controversy and litigation. The board’s decision remained unchanged from its original decision in October 2017, after which a State Supreme Court order forced the board to reconsider the application and provide a substantial reason for its ultimate conclusion.
This week, the board rendered a 43-page written decision, which provided background, including the court order, and discussed visual compatibility, scale of the property, and comparisons to surrounding properties and the neighborhood to explain why the proposal was approved.
The project calls for building a 14,561-square-foot, two-story home with an 800-square-foot attached garage at 28 Gin Lane, a 3.7-acre oceanfront lot, and a 5,066-square-foot, two-story guest house with a 582-square-foot attached garage at 24 Gin Lane, a 2.7-acre lot, according to the decision documents.
In the written decision, the board determined that the project “meets or exceeds the standards for new construction in the historic district” pursuant to village code criteria and the village’s official architectural design guidelines for historic districts and landmarks.
“It was an extremely well-written decision. The board did the correct, legal and fair thing,” said Southampton attorney John Bennett, who represents the owner, investor Scott Shleifer.
In 2017, the board approved the proposals for both properties in a 3-2 vote, despite some neighboring property owners objecting to the project’s size and design during public hearings.
Those neighbors—Lynn Manger, William H. Manger, Top O’Dune LLC and Pamela Michaelcheck—then filed a lawsuit shortly after. They all own properties to the east of the parcel being reviewed, with residential dwellings that range from 4,224 square feet to 10,080 square feet on their approximately 1-acre lots, according to decision documents.
State Supreme Court Justice Joseph Pastoressa ruled that ARB members should consider the size and scale of a proposed structure when deciding on applications, which he said they did not do.
The judgment, made in November 2018, forced the board to reconsider both applications and hold public hearings, which concluded in March.
“This is a 14,000-square-foot house on 4 acres being objected to by a 10,000-square-foot house on 1 acre. That, to me, is just obvious how proper the decision is,” Mr. Bennett said.
Neighbors did not answer a request for comment.
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