Shakeup To Town’s Architectural Board

Betsy Petroski was awarded a new five-year term and chairperson position on the architectural review board. She is seen here being sworn in by town clerk Carole Brennan January 7. Independent/T. E. McMorrow

East Hampton Town Supervisor Peter Van Scoyoc called for unity during his State of the Town speech, while, at the same time, switching appointed leadership on the architectural review board.

During the January 7 organizational meeting, former board member Betsy Petroski was named chairperson of the architectural review board following the December resignation of Richard Myers, who still had a year left to serve of his five-year term. Petroski, whose position on the board was set to expire at the end of 2021, had resigned last summer. The town board named her to a new five-year term, to fill vice chairman Peter Gumpel’s slot, whose term expired at the end of December. Gumpel was then named to fill Petroski’s old seat, meaning his time on the board will now be up in two years, but remains vice chair. Chip Rae was chosen to fill the final year of Myers’ term.

The shakeup may, in part, be the fallout of a tempestuous architectural review board meeting last July.

At that time the board was debating an application from homeowner Stephen Preuss, who wanted permission to install a six-foot gate at the front of his driveway on Bonac Wood Lane. The height was taller than the town code allows.

“He is entitled to a four-foot gate,” Petroski had said.

Michael Sendlenski, a former town attorney who resigned last April to pursue opportunities in the private sector and was representing Preuss, disagreed. He said his client was entitled to make an application to the board for a gate up to six feet high.

Myers, at the time, asked Petroski: “Do you have a problem to decide, or is it just the height of it?”

“I don’t think it is appropriate for the area,” Petroski responded.

She said she felt “bullied” into accepting something she opposed. The other two women on the five-person board, Esperanza Leon and Dianne Benson, agreed with Petroski, and voted down the proposal, 3-2.

“I would also like to ask for a timeout too, please,” Myers said, asking the streaming signal be cut. It was not, and a few contentious minutes still ensued. Petroski resigned from the board soon thereafter.

Between the town board, the zoning board of appeals, the planning board, and the architectural review board, only the latter has a female majority, and only the architectural review board is now headed by a woman.

John Whelan, chairman of the zoning board of appeals, whose term had just expired, was given a new five-year term, and remains chair. Chairpersons of each board are named every year. Ian Calder-Piedmonte returns to the planning board for a new seven-year term, and Samuel Kramer was again named chairman of the planning board.

“The state of the town is very good,” said Van Scoyoc, who was re-elected in November to his second two-year term as supervisor. “East Hampton has led the way with visionary and innovative approaches to land use, energy sustainability, resiliency, affordable housing, and historic preservation. In order to be successful in the new year and new decade, we must work together on the many initiatives planned to improve the condition of our town and the world around us.”

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