Supreme Court Upholds Two Village of Westhampton Beach ZBA Decisions

October/November 2023 – In successive decisions, the Supreme Court, Suffolk County has upheld two Dune Road variance determinations made by the Zoning Board of Appeals of the Village of Westhampton Beach. The decisions illustrate the differences that can result in the variance analysis when comparing new construction on vacant parcels with the remodeling of pre-existing homes.

In the first case, Sprotte v. Village of Westhampton Beach ZBA, decided on October 10, 2023, the Honorable Christopher Modelewski upheld the ZBA’s decision to grant variances to allow a small addition to a pre-existing home on a narrow lot. Neighbors had challenged the ZBA’s decision primarily on the ground that it was inconsistent with other ZBA decisions, but Justice Modelewski found that the ZBA rationally distinguished those precedents because they involved “entirely new construction and not the remodeling of existing homes.”

In the second case, Egret Dune Corporation v. ZBA of Village of Westhampton Beach, decided on November 8, 2023, the Honorable George Nolan upheld the ZBA’s decision to deny variances to allow a new house to be built on a narrow, 35-foot-wide lot. As noted by the court, the “ZBA determined that granting the requested variances would negatively impact the character of the neighborhood as it would result in the creation of the narrowest oceanfront building lot in the Village and the construction of a ‘trailer-shaped home approximately 15 feet wide by 90 feet long, which is unprecedented within the oceanfront neighborhood along Dune Road.'” The court found that the ZBA’s decision had a rational basis and was supported by substantial evidence.