Residents at a Babylon Town hearing on possible new regulations for properties along a canal in Lindenhurst questioned the rules and wondered why the town has not enforced existing code.
The proposed laws for the lots along both sides of Grand Canal in the American Venice neighborhood were discussed at a Jan. 20 public hearing on Zoom. The lots — which average 20 feet by 40 feet — were originally owned by the residents along East and West Riviera drives, but over the years many of the deeds to the lots have been sold to people living outside the community.
Kathy Gullo, a member of the American Venice Civic Association, said 49 of the 162 lots are owned by nonresidents. She said the proliferation of sheds on these properties has been a particular problem, with 22 of the 49 lots having sheds as of a 2018 survey. She said that since then, the structures are "showing up a mile a minute."
Sheds are not allowed on the lots under current town code, but the proposed regulations would permit sheds up to 100 square feet, as well as non-solid fences up to 4 feet as long as there is a building permit.
"Anything that anybody needs to store on their property for boat use and maintenance of the grounds can be stored in a dock box or storage unit that is under 4 feet," Gullo said. "They do not need a walk-in shed, unless they’re going to sleep in it on the weekends, as some of these people do."
Some residents said they had no problem with sheds, but felt side fences for privacy should be allowed to be solid and higher than 4 feet.
Many of the nearly dozen people who spoke at the hearing questioned why the town has not done more to enforce existing law.
"I think a lot of the things contained in the new code can be addressed by just code enforcement," said Frank Cetero.
Town officials said they have issued 15 to 20 violation notices to lot owners in the past two years for offenses like debris and overgrown grass. Town spokesman Dan Schaefer previously said that instead of going after individual infractions, the town is "using this as an opportunity to tighten up the code" to improve conditions for everyone.
Residents remain doubtful.
"I’m not too sure if there’s really much benefit in amending the code unless there’s actually going to be actual enforcement to it," said Ken Brussel.
Town Supervisor Rich Schaffer said staff would review the comments from the hearing and send a response to all the property owners. He said they would "continue the conversation on what we will do as a board over the next few weeks."