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Critics say proposed six-car garage in East Moriches too big

Patricia Blake is a co-owner of a 19th-century

Patricia Blake is a co-owner of a 19th-century house in East Moriches. Credit: James Carbone

A landlord's proposal to build a six-car garage at a 19th-century East Moriches house has drawn the ire of some residents who say it would be too large and unsightly.

The 20-foot-high detached garage, including upstairs storage space, would be almost as large as the adjacent house on Montauk Highway, critics said. At 2,250 square feet, it would be almost four times larger than what normally is allowed by Brookhaven Town building codes.

The house's owner and the proposal's critics have said they are seeking a compromise.

Patricia Blake of the Rect Corp., a group of three local residents who own the house, said she is willing to build the garage behind the house if that is acceptable to critics. She said the three families who rent legal apartments in the house requested the garage so they won't have to park on Montauk Highway, and for extra storage.

“I live and work here, so believe me, this is going to work out,” Blake, an East Moriches lawyer, said in an interview. “I have almost 4 acres there, so I can push it back. That’s not a problem.”

The Rect Corp. is seeking approval from the Brookhaven Board of Zoning Appeals for variances to allow the garage to exceed height and size restrictions. Town code normally allows such a garage to be no more than 14 feet high and 600 square feet.

During a March 11 public hearing, opponents said the garage would be out of character for the neighborhood, which lies within the East Moriches historic district. Buildings in the district must meet higher standards to preserve the neighborhood's historic appearance.

Chris Butkos of East Moriches said the proposed size of the garage "dwarfs many of the houses in the community, my house included."

Jim Gleason, of the East Moriches Property Owners Association, a civic group, said the house dates to about 1800 and once was owned by Austin Culver, a farmer and Brookhaven town trustee who died in 1900. He suggested the house's owners meet with community members to develop a better plan.

"History is here," Gleason said. "A six-car garage just doesn't fit, not from a historical perspective. ... It wouldn't look right."

Some board members said they were inclined to oppose the proposal because the Rect Corp. did not submit architectural renderings of the garage.

"It's hard to approve something like this without plans," board member Ronald J. Lindsay said.

Other board members suggested lowering the height of the structure. The board did not make a decision and adjourned the matter to Wednesday. That meeting will not be open to the public because of the coronavirus outbreak.

Blake said she sought the variances without renderings to receive input from the board and residents. She said she has subsequently met with Gleason to discuss the proposal.

Blake said she plans to add new landscaping, including large bushes and trees, to obscure views of the garage from Montauk Highway. She also plans to repair the house's roof and make other upgrades.

“I’m sure that with plantings and everything, you won’t see it,” she said, “My goal is to make it nice for the community.”

Culver controversy

The owner of an East Moriches house known locally as the “Culver house,” for previous owner Austin Culver, is seeking Brookhaven Town variances to erect a six-car garage.

Here are the proposed dimensions compared to what’s allowed under town code.

Height

Allowed: 14 feet

Proposed: 20 feet

Size

Allowed: 600 square feet

Proposed: 2,250 square feet

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