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Babylon may apply new rules for small lots along Lindenhurst's Grand Canal

Proposed new regulations would allow sheds, pergolas and

Proposed new regulations would allow sheds, pergolas and gazebos up to 100 square feet, as well as non-solid fences up to 4 feet on small lots along the Grand Canal in the American Venice neighborhood in Lindenhurst. Credit: Newsday/J. Conrad Williams Jr.

The Town of Babylon is proposing new regulations for the small lots that line a canal in Lindenhurst, but residents there say the town should instead enforce existing town law for the parcels.

The new set of rules would govern the use of the lots along both sides of the Grand Canal in the American Venice neighborhood. A public hearing on the proposal will be held Wednesday.

There are 162 parcels along the canal, strips of land that typically measure about 20 feet by 40 feet, said Rich Groh, the town’s chief environmental analyst. Referred to as "deeded dock slips," the parcels were originally owned by residents living across the street on East and West Riviera drives. However, over the years some of the parcels, which have their own deeds, were sold to people living in other neighborhoods, towns and counties, Groh said.

The town was "getting a lot of complaints and concerns" from the American Venice Civic Association about these owners placing structures on the lots along with unregistered boats and debris, he said, prompting the new regulations.

"Sheds and fences and items like that, if you don’t have a principal structure, you don’t have a house with a yard, these types of improvements are not legal on these lots," Groh said, and would require a variance from the zoning board.

The proposed code would now allow sheds, pergolas and gazebos up to 100 square feet, as well as non-solid fences up to 4 feet. If these stipulations are met, a building permit would have to be obtained even for existing structures, but larger structures and fences would need a variance, Groh said.

"It was really about trying to regulate it in a manner that’s fair," Groh said.

Civic members applauded parts of the new regulations, such as forbidding houseboats and the storage of vehicles, but said sheds and other structures that large have no place on the lots. Civic chairman John Vogt said his group has been complaining to the town for years as the problem escalated.

"The people are coming from Massapequa or wherever and they’re putting these sheds up making it look like a shantytown so they can store their stuff there, things they couldn’t do where they live," Vogt said. "I find that offensive."

Groh said that the town has issued 15 to 20 violation notices to lot owners in the past two years for offenses like debris and overgrown grass but that none were issued for sheds. Town spokesman Dan Schaefer said that "instead of addressing each potential code violation individually, we are using this as an opportunity to tighten up the code and hopefully improve the situation for all involved."

Tony Serravillo, 73, who owns one of the lots, said he has been after the town for years to enforce the code banning sheds to no avail.

"It blocks people’s view," he said. "You sit on your property to look at the water and now you’re looking at a shed."

The hearing will be held via Zoom at 7 p.m. Those wishing to speak can register on the town website at https://bit.ly/2LQV8z1.

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