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Beach house court battle continues

Centre Island's trustees will appeal last month’s court decision that reversed the village’s variance denial for a controversial elevated beach house.

The village board made its decision at a meeting Wednesday. Officials were reacting to the Aug. 5 ruling by State Supreme Court Justice Thomas A. Adams that sided with a landowner seeking to build a 3,300-square-foot house raised on pilings along protected wetlands.

Robert Jonas, 87, needed an elevation variance because his 3-acre property rises only about 8 feet above sea level. Centre Island village law restricts dwellings to sites at least 12 feet above.

The Zoning Board of Appeals on Dec. 27 approved Jonas’ elevation variance by a 2-1 vote. But because a majority of the five-member board is required for an approval and two members did not attend the meeting, the lone dissenter was enough for denial. Jonas filed suit in February.

Residents in the tiny peninsula village of about 400 people opposed the project like few others in recent memory.

More than 100 of them signed a petition against it, saying that the home would destroy wildlife and vegetation, and that its septic system would be vulnerable to flooding, possibly contaminating Oyster Bay Harbor.

Jonas has called the opponents “bullies,” and said his application met all state environmental standards.

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