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Town cites homeowners over wall after neighbors complain

Neighbors have complained about nearly 6-foot wall, seen

Neighbors have complained about nearly 6-foot wall, seen here on Jan. 26, 2016, that homeowner Amit Sharma erected around part of his waterfront property on East Bayberry Road in Islip. The neighbors claim the wall will increase the amount of flooding on the street. Credit: Newsday / John Paraskevas

An Islip couple who erected a nearly 6-foot wall around a part of their bayfront property to secure the grounds for their disabled daughter have been taken to court for violating the town code.

Islip officials were alerted to the presence of the wall at the end of East Bayberry Road in Islip hamlet after its construction last summer. Neighbors complained it blocked their view of the bay and Fire Island.

Several residents spoke out against the wall at a recent town board meeting, saying they feared it would decrease property values, impact the beauty of their community and possibly create a flood hazard by not preventing water from receding back into the bay.

Ron Meyer, Islip’s acting planning commissioner, said a Zoning Board of Appeals ruling from March 13, 2015, approved a wall that measured 5 feet, 1 inch in height, and only to enclose a portion of the northern end of the property, not at the southern end where a roadway meets the bay. The part of the wall neighbors said is blocking their view of the bay is on the southern end.

“The majority of the wall was not subject to the variance, nor did the ZBA grant a variance for the majority of the wall,” Meyer said in a phone interview. “The majority of the wall was illegally constructed. They did not obtain a building or engineering permit prior to construction.”

Islip code enforcement officers issued the homeowners, Dr. Amit Sharma and his wife, Rakhi, a summons on Oct. 5 for violating the town code on fences, a town spokeswoman said.

The Sharmas’ attorney, Gerard J. Glass, of Babylon, said town inspectors had visited the property after construction but before the summons was issued, and reassured the homeowners that the wall was in compliance.

Glass said the wall became an issue because of “some well-heeled neighbors who have been going to the town board hearings and raising the volume.”

“He built a wall that he thought complied with the town requirements,” Glass said. “Some of the neighbors probably don’t like the way it looks and it blocks [the bay] when they’re out walking their dog. But he’s got a constitutional right to put up some type of fence or wall to protect his disabled daughter.”

As for any records of such a visit or communication between town officials and the Sharmas saying the wall was in compliance, a town spokeswoman said in a statement: “To the extent that such a record exists, it would not be available as this matter is currently an active law enforcement proceeding.”

The case is due back in Suffolk County Fifth District Court on March 23, according to town officials. The maximum fine attached to the summons is $2,000, but Meyer said the town wants the wall to be rectified.


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