Bayville's administration, under Mayor Vicki Siegel, is doing an admirable job of improving and preserving the appearance of our village. Planting areas are created and maintained by volunteers, public buildings and roads are kept in good condition, garbage and trash collections are reliable and efficient, local building codes prevent architectural excesses, drainage problems are being addressed to the fullest extent possible.
Bayville Commons, when finished will transform an eyesore into an attractive focal point with much needed additional parking spaces.
Once in a while, however, an overzealous department or commisison goes too far in its attempts to adhere to the letter of the law, creating bad feelings and unecessary hardship for the residents involved.
This is what happened - in broad outlines - to the family of John Joyce. Mr. Joyce, a lieutenant in the New York City Fire Department, wanted to erect a 6 ft. fence in order to shield a newly built wing which encloses his bedroom. The fence would be close to the house, at least 40 feet away from his property line. He wanted to follow the proper procedure and asked for the building inspector to come and instruct him about any permits he might need.
Mr. Joyce's job in the city includes checking on buildings to see that they conform to the fire code and have all their permits. He is conversant with the permit process, and tried to conform to it in Bavyille.
The building inspector assured him that he did not need a permit, since the fence was far enough away from the front border of his property. Local law permits a 6 ft. fence in the rear and along the sides of a property, but a height of only 4 ft. for a fence on the property line. On the strength of the building inspector's word (he did not ask for it in writing) he went ahead and built the fence.
Much to his surprise he received a notice from the Zoning Board that the fence exceeded the legal height and he had no permit for it. He appeared at the Zoning Board, explained that his had acted on the assurance of the building inspector that he fence needed no permit because it is far enough away from the property border.
The Zoning Board, an autonomous part of the administration, instructed Mr. Joyce to take the fence down, cut it to a height of 4 ft. and install it at an angle. He was given a time limit to June 26 to complete all necessary work, including the prescribed landscaping. For example, he was told to use sod instead of seed, which forced him to spend more money than he expected.
On June 11 the Zoning Board of Appeals held a special meeting and denied him the permit for a fence. He was notified of this decision on June 18, while he was making the changes asked for previously. He protested, saying the deadline was June 26, and that he was in the middle of the project.
At that point he requested access to his case file under the Freedom of Information Act and found out that no one had filed a complaint against him. He gathered letters from all his adjoining neighbors, testifying that no one objected to the fence. Some neighbors even volunteered that in their opinion the improvements to his house and property were of benefit to the entire area. Mr. Joyce asked for a rehearing of his case. He wanted to represent himself but was informed that according to a local law he had to hire a lawyer for a rehearing. He engaged the services of the Jeffery Forchelli law firm. Another local law states that a rehearing requires a unanimous decision by the Zoning Board of Appeals.
The rehearing was scheduled for Aug. 27. Several of his neighbors appeared to testify in his favor. Mr. Joyce's lawyer presented a convincing case, enumerating the contradictions and unwarranted obstacles put in his path.
The members of the Zoning Board of Appeals seemed to be favorably disposed towards Mr. Joyce, with the exception of one member who would not budge from his negative position. Since a unanimous decision is required at a rehearing, the case had to be deferred. All through this process Mr. Joyce kept repeating that it had not been his intention to deceive the village, and had he received the proper information from the start, he would have modified his plans to conform with local laws.
The Zoning Board of Appeals eventually persuaded its one recalcitrant member and came to a unanimous decision to grant Mr. Joyce the variance for his fence. The case has extended over a period of two years, and the original cost of the fence, $2000, has more than tripled through legal and other expenses which Mr. Joyce had to incur against his better judgment. He now wants the village to reimburse him for the cost of the attorney, $2,500.
Some of issues include that Mr. Joyce had hired a local landscaper to design the area. When the shorter deadline was forced on him, she had to make some substitutes in the plans, again because of the time frame.
Mr. Joyce has also complained that one of the members of the ZBA no longer lives in Bayville, but in Queens Village. Local law says that the members of the board must be local residents. Another member resigned, said Mr. Joyce, when he moved to Centre Island.
Mayor Siegel said she is aware of that issue. She explained that he has sold his home in Bayville and is in the process of buying another house in Bayville.
(Dagmar Karppi added to this story.)
Robert H. Spittel American Legion Post 1285 held its annual installation meeting on Sept. 23 at Sail Harbor. John Donnigi covered the event with his camera, and his photos speak more eloquently than words.
Standing, from the left: Rev. Peter F. Kaczmarek, pastor St. Gertrude Church Honorary Chaplain; Dorothy Horton McGee, Oyster Bay Town Historian; Rocco A. Imerti, past commander, Glen Cove American Legion Post 76 and his wife Judy Imerti. Seated, from the left are: Edwin Siegel, Mayor SiegelŐs husband; the Hon. Victoria Siegel, mayor of Bayville; Florence Sembler, wife of the commander; William Sembler, Commander Robert H. Spittel American Legion Post 1285.
Nassau County Commander, American Legion Robert Conlin, his staff and wives came to the Robert H. Spittel Post 1285 Bayville to swear in Post Commander William Sembler for his fourth consecutive year and his staff on Sept. 23. First Vice Commander Fred Mei, 2nd Vice Cmdr. Philip LoBue, 3rd Vice Cmdr. John Donnigi, Finance Officer Corrine Reinhardt, Adjutant Fred Uhl, Service Officer Don Murphy, Historian and "Legioneer of the Year" Dr. Carlton Upright, Chaplain Vincent Furnari, Sgt. at Arms Fred Decker.
Honored guests in attendance were Rev. Peter F. Kaczmarek, St. Gertrude, Mayor Victoria Siegel escorted by her husband. Locust Valley Cmdr. Horace Thompson and 1st Vice Cmdr. Robert J. Snyder and his wife. Glen Cove Past Cmdr. Rocco A. Imerti and his wife. Bayville Fire Co. 1st Asst. Chief Jerry Flower and his wife. Town of Oyster Bay Historian Dorothy Horton McGee. Boys Stater Tipper Reilly-McCabe.
The Bayville Free Library presents Halloween Fun with Jay Mankita on Oct. 31 at 12:30 p.m. in a program of sing-along songs, scare-along stories and poems for children ages 5 to 10. Bayville residents only. Call 628-2765.
The Bayville Fire Company will again be having their annual fund raiser "The Haunted Firehouse." It will run on Oct. 16, 17, 18 and Oct. 23, 24, 25 and Oct. 30 and 31. The hours on Fridays are 7 to 11 p.m.; Saturdays, 6 to 11 p.m. and Sundays - 6 to 10 p.m.
The cost of admission is $5 per person. It is not recommended for children under 8. There will be food, novelties and picture souvenirs available.
"Come join us for a fun time - if you dare," said the organizers. For more information please call 628-3685.