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ZBA January 11, 2006
                                                DRAFT FILED: 1/17/06
                                                        FINAL APPROVAL: 2/8/06


MEMBERS PRESENT:   Kathleen Riedy, ZBA Chairman
                                         Ruth Waitkins
                                         Rhoda Stephens
                                         Paul Rolnick
                                         Witt Barlow

ALSO PRESENT:  Code Enforcement Officer – Joseph Sperber

Kathleen Riedy, ZBA Chairman announced the location of fire exits at the front and rear of the room.


Suzanne & Neal Haber,  Located at 7 Sunset Drive, Located in a RA-9 District and designated on the Tax Maps of the Village as Section 79.09 Block 7 Lot 4.  Request for a side yard variance with respect to a proposed reconstruction of a house damaged by fire.

FOR THE RECORD:  Prior to the hearing the Board discussed a letter dated December 6, 2002, from a previous Village Attorney with respect to non-conforming parcels that have received previous variances and non-conforming parcels that have not received variances and how it would affect new construction.

Kathleen Riedy, ZBA Chairman – This is an unusual situation and I would like to state for the record that the applicant had submitted a building permit application and after a preliminary review it was suggested a variance would be required.  The legal notice was published and later upon further review of the application a consensus was reached that a variance was not required given the history of the property and an opinion letter that was written by prior village council.  Rather than take it off the calendar I thought it would be more prudent to meet and first consider if the applicant requires a variance and if not then we can end the meeting.  If we reach a consensus that a variance is required we will move forward and review the application on its merits.

Rolnick – We are talking about a case where the variance for the setback had been granted through a previous application and whether the proposed application increases the degree of nonconformity by going up a story as opposed to moving it horizontally. My answer is no for the first part and yes for the second part.

Riedy – Why do you say no if going up a story?
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Rolnick – Because of the letter from the previous Village Attorney, which we had applied to a previous application on North Riverside Ave. where they wanted to put another full story on their building and they had non-conforming setbacks that were legalized by a previous variance.  The question was do they need a variance if they are going up a story.  Our previous Chairman had requested the Village Attorney to give his opinion and his response to us is the letter that the Code Enforcement Officer has submitted to us with his memo. It says it does not increase the degree of non-conformity.

Barlow – The prior variance that was granted was granted conditionally according to plans submitted and the plans were for a one story building.  I thought going up did increase the degree of nonconformity.  .

Rolnick – Certainly you could say the same thing applied to the Verizon application and that was the Village Attorney’s judgment.  We still felt it was our prerogative to consider if it does increase the degree of non-conformity, regardless of what he says.

Barlow – It does make a difference.  The height would make a difference to it’s affect on the neighbors and the neighborhood.

Rolnick – If we say this application does not need a variance then we need to be concerned about what we will do with the next application, if others want to build up.

Stephens – Referred to Chapter 8, Paragraph 2, of the “Zoning Amortization” with respect to “General Approaches to Non-Conforming Uses.    

Waitkins – The Village Attorney’s letter says if current Zoning permits a setback of ten and they have six feet then it is non-conforming.

Rolnick –In the Village Attorney’s letter on the second page of the memo, he is saying that this principle is not applicable to the common situation in which a building is non-conforming because, it was constructed prior to the enactment of a more restrictive provision in the Zoning Law.  Maybe we should just look at the language of the previous variance.  I think that would later allow them to go up on it, if they came before us again.  I thought there were two variances.

Sperber - There was another, but I did not think we should include it.   Let me find it …

Rolnick – I wanted to see if there were conditions in the original variance.

Barlow – It says conditionally in the language of the Resolution.  I thought it meant in accordance with the plans.

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Sperber – There was another variance granted in 1968.

Haber – It was for one of the back rooms.

Haber – The 1968 variance was for the addition to the rear along the conforming setback and what is now, the master bedroom.  It had no affect on the issue of the short end side yard variance for which the variance was granted in 1949, which is on the right hand side in the back.

Rolnick – The setbacks we are looking at are for existing small lot?

Sperber – Existing small lot and by today’s standards.

Rolnick – Mr. Haber, you are saying that what we are looking at is the variance from 1949?

Haber – yes.

Discussion followed over the previous Resolutions.

Barlow – So why was a variance required in l968?

Sperber – It is not clear.  They were increasing the footprint by extending.  1931 Zoning required 15 ft. on each side.

Rolnick – So it legalized both side yards?

Sperber – There was no side yard requirements.

Barlow – I wonder if they really needed a variance in 1968 and therefore, if they need one tonight.

Rolnick – But, that was horizontally and this is going up.  That is what the Village Attorney’s letter is saying in determining if a variance is needed or not.

Sperber – Setback requirements for existing small lots in a RA-9 District is eight feet on one side yard and twenty feet total, I think, without the Code book.

Rolnick – So, in 1968 the right side would have been legal.  So, I do not know if this is the right way to go.  If the new house was built in 1968 they would not need anything on the right side.

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Stephens – Normally under RA-9, it says 30 ft. total side yard, if it were not an existing small lot.  

Rolnick – Were there any condition in the 1968 variance that was granted?

Sperber – No.

Stephens – Is the garage meeting the setback requirements?

Sperber - It looks like they have well more than that.  It is just above five feet to scale.

Rolnick – We need to decide what the word conditionally means in the 1949 Resolution.

Sperber – If that phrase “conditionally was not in the 1949 Resolution, it would not have been sent to the Board.

Barlow – There are no other conditions that I can see.

Riedy – That would be a straight forward condition to mean according to plans filed.  I think that is a reasonable inference.

After discussion the Board reached a consensus to go forward with the hearing.


Suzanne & Neal Haber, 7 Sunset Drive, Located in a RA-9 District and designated on the Tax Maps of the Village as Section 79.09 Block 7 Lot 4.  Request for a side yard variance with respect to a proposed re-construction of a house damaged by fire.

Julie Evans, Architect for the applicant – The application that we are proposing it to rebuild a house that was damaged by fire and in doing so, we are trying to achieve a better fit to the family and neighborhood.  The original home was adequate, but also had been added onto a number of times before the Haber's owned it.  The rooms were cut off from light and the bedrooms were small, so they decided to go up a story. The strategy is to build up for planning reasons. The reason why it makes sense is that there is a small basement and the rest is a slab on grade. So, that leads us to a new second floor.   In terms of the approach to the site and the neighborhood that we are fond of and the scale, and houses that are wonderful, and the various types are capes, Tudors, etc.   So, in many ways the original house at 7 Sunset was an odd ball thing. The only ranch, so it gave
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us a nice opportunity to build to the scale of the other houses in the neighborhood. The combinations of the styles fit and then in terms of scale the house to the left is considerably taller and the house to the right is higher in elevation.  So, I do not feel this will be an addition that looms over other houses on the street.  It will fit nicely. We will have a hip roof and it will be helpful on the back of the house allowing more light to approach the neighbors.

Rolnick – It will be lower than the house on the left side?

Evans – The left will remain lower.  The structure will not be so tall.  The drawings that were in your package, number 5 & 9 shows the relationship between the Haber’s house and the Milich.  

Rolnick – What is the total change in the elevation from what was there and what is proposed.

Evans - Eight feet from the plate height to top of second story.

Rolnick  –Top of the peak depends on the pitch of the roof?

Discussion followed over plans.

Evans - The roof of the original home was covering a broad span, so it will be approximately no more than eight feet.

Stephens - The total height is well under thirty five feet?

Evans – Yes, twenty five feet.  That is because of the short span for the addition.

Rolnick – Are the Milich’s higher than that?

Haber – Their house is higher than our house at its peak.

Rolnick –Their view is at the West Elevation?

Rolnick – What is the difference in the number of bedrooms?

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Haber – There were two and one half baths before and there will be three and one half baths after construction and three bedrooms will remain.  The family room in the original plans is a small walk thru from dining room is nine by twelve and that will be enlarged by taking over the master bedroom.  The office was off the living room a little corner, that area will be incorporated into the living room and the area in front of the house will become office space.

Barlow – What are you gaining from this?

Haber - What we are gaining  is more living space.  The first floor rooms were choked off.  The new proposal will flow nicely and there will be more light.  We also want the ability to have a single floor living space at some point in our lives.  We are also moving the laundry room from a very small basement to the upstairs

Barlow – You show a dormer over the entry, but on the east elevation, it does not show.  Will you put that in?

Evans – It should show on the elevation plans, if not, it will be.

Discussion followed over plans.

Barlow – Will it be shingled?

Haber – Our intention is to have cedar to conform with the feel of the house.

Evans - I am also exploring some portion of clapboard as ribbon along  the second floor addition.

Rolnick – Is it possible you would use vinyl siding?

Haber – That is not our desire.  Our preference is cedar.

Rolnick – The most affected neighbor is the Milich on the west and you gave substantial documentation of that elevation and they have seen the plans, correct?

Haber – Yes and one question they asked is if it would have any affect on the direct sun on their deck in the back.   Our addition would not block any sunlight in that area.

Rolnick - Both of you will have a lot of windows facing each other is that correct?

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Haber – They have one window in the kitchen and one window in the dining room that leads to the deck and one small window or dormer in their peak.  You can see it in this photo (referred to photos). We will have very little effect with their windows or preventing light.

Haber – The one other change that we will do is that the east elevation will have a gable roof rather than a hip roof.  It is set forward on Map 2.  So, none of the addition will have any blockage of light going into their windows. They have also submitted letters of support for the application and they have reviewed the plans.

Rolnick – What would the detriment be if the variance is not granted?

Haber - The detriment would be not to reach the needs that we have to bring light to the center of the house.  We would not be able to address that because we cannot build forward or back. We have considered making the kitchen area work better.  The current kitchen is unavailable to us, because we could not square it off and use that area because the driveway curve is located behind it. So, without the variance we could not accomplish any of our objectives.

Evans – And all the utilities will come in on that side and we are tapping into existing utilities and infrastructure, that is our plan.

Discussion followed over plans.

Barlow – You intend to live in this house?

Haber – Yes and one of the things we pointed out was that we are thinking whether to put the master bedroom downstairs, because we want to live there for some time.

Riedy – When did you purchase the house and how old are your children?

Haber - We purchased in 1990.  Our children were four years old and nine months.

Rhoda – Will there be a fireplace wall?

Haber – The fireplace is in front of the area of the utility space for more appropriate use.

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Stephens – What percentage was ruined by fire?

Haber – The kitchen was incinerated.  Flames through the rafters and into the attic area damaged one major beam across the kitchen and living room.  Damage to the rafters and roof, and damage in the living room, and wall, between the living room and dining room.  There was some damage in the hallway and in the bedroom wing.  The insurance company said everything must come down, except the studs.  Framing will have to be replaced and all the sheet rock will have to come out.  The electrical and plumbing, needs to be replaced.  It needs to be removed down to the foundation.

Riedy – Any other questions?

There was no reply.

Letters from the neighbors in favor of the application were submitted for the record.

Hearing closed.

Waitkins – Made Motion to Grant a 2.72 ft. total side yard variance according to plans submitted.

Stephens – Second the Motion

Vote - All in favor.

Respectfully submitted,

Janice Fuentes
ZBA Secretary


Suzanna & Neal Haber,  have applied to the Zoning Board of Appeals of the Village of Croton-on-Hudson, for a side yard variance with respect to a proposed re-construction of a one family dwelling damaged by fire.

The property, at 7 Sunset Drive, is located in a RA-9, District and is designated on the Tax Maps of the Village as Section 79.09 Block 7 Lot 4.

A public hearing having been held after due notice, this Board from the application and after viewing the premises and neighborhood concerned, finds:

There will be no undesirable change to the character of the neighborhood.  The new construction will be more attractive that what was there before.  The applicant is building within the original footprint.

The neighbors who will be most affected had no objection to the application.

The variance requested is not substantial.

There would be hardship to the applicant if they had to construct a home the same size as the original structure, due to the applicant’s needs that have changed and their need for more space.

The proposed variance will not have an adverse effect or impact on the physical or environmental conditions in the neighborhood or district.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the application is hereby GRANTED as follows:

Waitkins – Made Motion to Grant a 2.72 ft. total side yard variance according to plans submitted.

Stephens – Second the Motion

Vote – 5-0 - All in favor – Waitkins, Stephens, Riedy, Rolnick, Barlow

According to Section 230-76 (D), “Unless work is commenced and diligently prosecuted within one (1) year of the date of the granting of a variance or special permit, such variance or special permit shall become null and void.”