Finds shed violates code
By Liz Schevtchuk Armstrong
Cold Spring’s Zoning Board of Appeals last week revoked the certificate of occupancy for the backyard shed at 14 Stone St., finding that the structure, which has pitted neighbor against neighbor, violates village code provisions on setbacks — the appropriate distance for buildings from property lines.
The ZBA declared that the certificate of occupancy “was issued in error because the replacement shed” — the structure in question succeeded an old, decaying shed in the same location — “was constructed to increase the non-conformity of the side-yard setbacks in violation of the village code and is hereby revoked.”
However, while ruling on a crucial point in favor of Andrew Hall and his wife Susan Peehl of 13 Fair St., who raised the setback issue, the ZBA likewise found that the pair “failed to meet their burden of proof with all of their remaining allegations” against the shed.
The ZBA acted in the case March 12 by voting 4-0 to adopt a resolution laying out its conclusions. For two years or more, Peehl and Hall have challenged the shed on various procedural grounds. Built by Paul Henderson and Beth Sigler, it stands kitty-corner behind the Peehl yard.
The latest ZBA meeting proved as contentious as several prior shed discussions, including those at the Village Board of Trustees. Peehl repeatedly interrupted ZBA members as they spoke “and would not stop,” said ZBA member Marie Early, March 19. Eventually, she added, as the disruption continued, “I did, in fact, call the police.” Consequently, Early went on, things settled down and Peehl made a few non-heated remarks during the public-comment period of the meeting.
The latest stage of the conflict began on Sept. 5, 2012, when Cold Spring Building Inspector William C. Bujarski issued the now-revoked certificate of occupancy — a form of approval for usage. (The Henderson-Sigler shed lacks electricity, running water and insulation and is designed for storage of gardening tools and related items as well as sports equipment, not for residential occupancy.) Shed history, though, dates back to 2008, when one of Bujarski’s predecessors granted permission to build the structure, intended as a replacement for the old shed.
According to the ZBA, the old, original shed had a footprint approximately 10 feet wide and 25 feet long, and was single-storied, with a roof about 11 feet high, while the new Henderson-Sigler model is 15 feet high and built atop the previous shed’s pre-existing foundation. Erected before the village had a zoning code, the original shed was, before its demise, considered a legitimate but “non-conforming” building, since it did not meet the setback spacing the code demanded.
The ZBA decision observed that the record includes “conflicting evidence presented as to whether the replacement shed … over-hung, or was larger than the shed’s original foundation footprint.” However, it also stated, “the replacement shed has been expanded in violation of Village Code [Section] 134-19(H) which [specifies] that a non-conforming building can be repaired or replaced provided that such action does not increase the degree of, or create any new, non-conformity” under village regulations.
The ZBA added that testimony at a ZBA hearing (which continued for more than a year at odd intervals) and documentary evidence established “that a portion of the replacement shed, i.e., a build-out of the shed’s front portion, extends 11 inches in a westerly direction from the shed’s original foundation footprint.” The ZBA declared that “the ‘front bump-out’ portion of the replacement shed violates village code because it creates a new area of non-conformity in the side-yard setbacks.”
Early said March 12 “this was the only reason for our finding” and revocation of the occupancy certificate. “The bump-out does not adhere to the side-yard setbacks.” She said that at the meeting, the board informed Henderson that either “he could tear the shed down or make it legal.”
She explained that to make the latter option possible, one approach would be for Henderson and Sigler to seek a new building permit solely for the “bump-out,” a request that almost certainly would be denied by Bujarski, who would advise the couple to go back to the ZBA for a variance, or exemption from the code.
Contacted March 19, Bujarski said, “I have no comment for or against the decision. The ZBA is handling the options available to [the] owners towards compliance.” Going forward, he noted, “I do not have any involvement until the shed is compliant.”