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Potential change to zoning code could benefit some property owners

Southold Town officials are considering amending the zoning code to address setback requirements that have created issues for property owners on corner lots.

The zoning code currently sets out front yard setbacks that are more stringent than those for rear and side yards in order to maintain the streetscape. 

“Lots on the corner are considered as having two front yards, which puts a substantial amount of restriction on what the owner can do with their property,” Supervisor Scott Russell said at Tuesday’s work session.

The code amendment would both define and ease restrictions on the “secondary” front yard for owners of corner lots.

Zoning Board of Appeals chair Leslie Weisman said the code amendment is unanimously supported by ZBA members, who have seen the same type of request again and again on corner lot applications. 

“The board sees a lot of nuisance variances that are not fair to property owners simply because they’re on a corner lot,” Ms. Weisman explained, adding that it is unnecessarily burdensome for homeowners.

In addition, she said there are also frequent instances where rights-of-ways or paper roads that are used as footpaths are considered roads or front yards, which requires additional work by the ZBA and, in some cases, the building department.

“We would rather spend our time on serious variance relief,” Ms. Weisman said.

The board may add definitions for both primary and secondary front yards while also coming up with revised setback requirements for corner lot owners.

After discussing the issue at length Tuesday, Mr. Russell said the board will revisit the issue at its next work session Feb. 23.