The Fall Newsletter ended with an item about building homes that are larger than the available lot can comfortably accommodate. In March, David A. Genaway, Islip's new Commissioner of Planning, spoke about the topic to the FIA Board.
In Islip, the rule is that houses may not occupy more than 35 percent of the area of the building lot. The ratio is known as "floor to area", or FAR. Those building new houses, or expanding existing ones, routinely petition town zoning authorities for permission to build in excess of the ratio. Variances have been granted to allow coverage of almost twice that specified by the code. This, of course, leaves space for only tiny front, side and rear yards, and adjoining owners sometimes find this objectionable. Some are moved to sell their homes, whereupon the process is sometimes repeated. Over time, the appearance of the community is changed.
Mr. Genaway said the Islip Planning Commis-sion wants to work with concerned community members, and the Seashore, to set up new land development rules in the town building code. He believes a blanket rezoning in the Islip part of Fire Island would be hard to accomplish, but a "hamlet overlay" to the code might be adopted by concerned communities. He said to do this the town board would have to approve a comprehensive land use plan that would create a new zoning category for participating hamlets that would end the granting of variances that allow overbuilding.
The last Newsletter also discussed a Fire Island Pines case where a landowner was successful in getting the state Supreme Court to overturn the granting to a neighbor of eight separate variances by the Brookhaven Board of Zoning Appeals. The petitioner asked the Appellate Division to reverse the lower court ruling on the variance that the Board refused. Instead, that finding was reversed and those in favor of the original complainant upheld.