On Monday night Ms. Jean D’Agostino, owner of the late barn on Murphy Lane, appeared again before the ZBA with her attorney, James A. Fauci Briefly, Mr. Fauci claimed that the variances to build a one family home on the site of what had been a barn, had no constraints. He asserted that his client had a right to erect a home on the site as high as sixty feet as allowed by the zoning for that district. He claimed that there was no basis to require an additional height variance.
Keith Kaplan, who was chairing the meeting in the absence of William Moore, said the stop order was not based simply on the height as had been stated in an email by building inspector Steven Shaw to Ms D’Agostino. He referenced the inconsistency of what Ms. D’Agostino had done in contrast with her application that was approved by the ZBA.
What followed was a chaotic discussion in which Mr. Fauci insisted that his client be told clearly why Mr. Shaw had issued a stop work order. At this point board member Adam McNeil interceded and proposed that a written explanation be drafted and sent to Mr. Fauci. Attorney Mark Schachner, who is a consultant to the city on land use issues, intervened to support Mr. McNeil. Mr. Fauci then asked why, since Mr. Shaw was sitting behind the ZBA table, the city building inspector could not simply explain why he had issued the stop work order. At this point Mr. Kaplan interceded to cut off the discussion.
Dear reader, the neighbors of the late Murphy Lane barn have been asking, to some extent the exact same question for the last five months of this debacle. They have repeatedly asked why the ZBA in light of the fact that Ms. D’Agostino in her application specifically stated that she would not tear down the barn because it would be a detriment to the neighborhood,then tore it down, did not void the variances she had received. In its effort to accommodate Ms. D’Agostino, the ZBA has dodged this question for months.
The discussion on Monday night laid bare the poverty of the way the ZBA has handled this whole business. I expect that Mr. Schachner and Tony Izzo will now sit down and try to prepare a document that will explain why the project was stopped that will withstand the potential lawsuit that may follow.