ZBA Wants To Know If 40 Meadow Lane Has A Full Third Story That's Not Allowed - 27 East

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ZBA Wants To Know If 40 Meadow Lane Has A Full Third Story That’s Not Allowed

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40 Meadow Lane

40 Meadow Lane

Brendan J. O’Reilly on Jun 8, 2022

As New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft seeks approval to add an elevator — and dormers to accommodate it — to his Meadow Lane residence, members of the Southampton Village Zoning Board of Appeals are raising suspicions that the $43 million oceanfront home includes a full third story when only a half story is allowed.

The ZBA invited Chief Building Inspector Tien Ho So to the meeting to discuss their concerns, an invitation that Michael Sendlenski, Kraft’s attorney, objected to. Sendlenski said he was not made aware prior to the meeting that So would be appearing and that it had not been discussed in a public meeting beforehand. By the end of the meeting, Sendlenski would also ask that a ZBA member recuse himself.

ZBA Chairman Mark Greenwald told So that board members had questions about discrepancies between the plans that were approved for 40 Meadow Lane and what was actually built. He explained that the questions relate to the height, gross floor area and whether the top level was a third floor or a half story.

“The board’s concern is the possibility that additional variances could be required here,” Greenwald said. He noted that attempts to get information from the applicant regarding the height and gross floor area were unsuccessful.

So said ZBA member Luke Ferran brought concerns about the half story to him. So said he asked Kraft’s architect for details but got no response.

Sendlenski confirmed during the meeting that he had told the architect not to answer questions regarding the half story.

“If it’s not a half story, it’s a full third story?” Greenwald asked So.

“You’re correct about that. That’s correct,” Ho said. “And that is prohibited by code itself, where it just says that residential structures are limited to two-and-half-story construction.”

So pointed out that the residence already has a certificate of occupancy. “I’m not going to necessarily say that it was a violation if there is already a C of O on file,” So said. “Going forward though, that’s where the new additions would have to meet with the code itself.”

So said the architect has to show that it meets the definition of a half story, which by definition slopes down to a knee wall around the perimeter. He said that the proposed addition is “pushing some limits” in regards to a half story.

A knee wall is typically no more than 3 feet tall.

“We’re missing some details as to how this particular half story meets that definition,” So said. “When you look at it, it’s hard to kind of visualize because of the fact that it has four gables and is shaped like a plus symbol.”

Ferran shared the original plans for 40 Meadow Lane and the plans for the addition of dormers. Pointing out wall heights in the current configuration, he identified rooms he said are full height, with no knee walls. He also noted it was unusual for a master bedroom to be on a half story.

“In its existing configuration, I think it’s pretty clear that this floor doesn’t meet the definition of half story now, and definitely not considering what they are proposing,” Ferran said.

Ferran said he had put his observations into an email to Ho, and Ho asked the architect about them.

Once he was brought back into the conversation, Sendlenski asked Ferran to recuse himself from the matter. “He’s obviously engaged in ex parte communications outside of the public hearing and therefore should not be sitting any further on this application,” Sendlenski said.

The ZBA’s attorney, Jeffrey Blinkoff, defended Ferran asking the building inspector for more information.

Sendlenski countered that requests for information should have come through his office, as the applicant’s attorney.

He also shed light on why the architect has not responded to So’s requests: “The reason why we haven’t provided that information is that information is not germane to the variances that we’ve requested and that are before the board,” Sendlenski said.

He also asked the board to close the public hearing, which the board did in a 4-0 vote. Ferran did not recuse himself; board member Joyce Giuffra was absent. The board did not vote on the application itself.

Kraft, under the limited liability company Smithtown Partners, purchased the residence in April 2021. At 6,677 square feet, it was built in place of a 120-square-foot shingle-style residence over the objections of many village residents and was the subject of a lawsuit in 2014 that tried to reverse its approval; neighbors argued it exceeded the village’s height restriction of 35 feet. The village has since adopted a stricter sky plane law that would prevent the home from being approved today.

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