Ron Perelman, the billionaire philanthropist, businessman and investor, owns the largest estate in East Hampton, consisting of 58 acres fronting on Georgica Pond. The prior owner had built many structures on the property and there was not much in the way of zoning at that time. In any case, when you own a property like this, it’s easy to feel this is your own private little world. As such, to a certain extent, you can make the rules.
Indeed, Perelman employs a private security force to keep order on his property. But he never created his own private fire department. Had he done so, he might not be having the difficulties he faces today.
Fire broke out on the property in 2012. The volunteer village fire department was contacted, and one of the volunteer firemen who came was Ken Collum, who that year also became village ordinance inspector.
After the fire, Collum filed a blizzard of 17 violations for all sorts of things that shouldn’t have been built, modified or allowed on the property. An accessory building, supposed to be no more than 250 square feet, was 1,275 square feet with a place of worship with three rooms and two bathrooms standing at 15.1 feet high when the limit allowed is 14 feet. A 160-square-foot addition to the main residence had been added without a permit.
Cooking and living facilities are now housed in numerous nonconforming accessory buildings, some of which are 100 feet from the wetlands when 150 feet are required. A workout building was too near wetlands and had been illegally enlarged to 795 square feet from 575 square feet. Six pieces of sculpture were not set far enough back from the water. A barn was built without a permit. Even a chicken coop and trellis came under fire.
An earlier attempt to change the zoning and make everything legal failed. Now Perelman’s lawyer is going over each building, sculpture and coop one at a time to see if something else might be worked out.
Frank Newbold, the Chairman of the Zoning Board, commented that the property “is still subject to the same code as the smallest [property],” according to The East Hampton Star.