A Huntington homeowner has been issued a stop-work order for constructing a home in a coastal erosion hazard area without the proper permits, town officials said.
The order was issued in January after neighbors on private Makamah Beach Road notified town officials that the home was being built beyond the hazard zone, a violation of New York State Department of Environmental Conservation rules.
Most of the homes on the north side of Makamah Beach Road are built within the hazard zone but were grandfathered in when the state prohibitions were enacted. However, the grandfather status is lost once a structure — and foundation — are demolished.
Town officials said homeowner Nicholas Liolis was issued a permit to do renovation work on his house, but town investigators found what was being built on the site was not in compliance with the plans submitted for the issued building permit.
"The existing foundation had been completely removed, and a new one was constructed in a different place," town spokeswoman Lauren Lembo said, citing building department officials.
Liolis declined to comment when reached by phone.
The town’s building department has come under fire recently for complaints of insufficient staff, poor management and monthslong waits for building permits.
Town board member Mark Cuthbertson, who has been critical of the building department's procedures, said the Liolis case is "another black eye" for the building department.
"If this egregious violation of our building code and coastal erosion zone regulations is allowed to stand it will make a mockery of our town review process," he said.
At the Feb. 23 town board meeting, two public hearings were scheduled for March 16 to address issues in the building department, including instituting electronic filing for permits.
Town Supervisor Chad Lupinacci, last month blamed department delays on several factors: in-person and mail-in application intake processes, COVID-19-related shutdowns, employee illness, and state-mandated limits on staffing levels.
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation law regulates development along the shoreline in designated coastal erosion hazard areas, which are areas of high erosion vulnerability.
The DEC has a permit program that provides written approval of regulated activities or land disturbance to properties within the coastal erosion hazard areas and DEC's jurisdiction.
The program also assists certified communities to administer and enforce local programs. The Town of Huntington is designated as a certified CEHA community, and issues those permits under the program.
Lembo said in order for construction to continue a new application must be submitted.
State officials said they are aware of the situation and are communicating with the town on the matter.
Caterina Violi is Liolis’ neighbor to the east. She said 10 years ago her application to the town to renovate toward the water was denied because it would have violated restrictions within the hazard zone. She said she accepted the decision and renovated her home toward the street.
After speaking with building department staff, including director Dan Martin, she is concerned that guidelines put in place to protect the community will not be enforced. The Liolis structure, which is now closer to her house, should be taken down she said.
"We should respect our neighbors and the laws, programs and codes that are in place to protect our community and our environment," she said. "Disrespecting these basic principles places all of our properties and our environment at risk."