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Somers Neighbors Argue Over Accessory Apartment

SOMERS, N.Y. -- An application for a special exception use permit drew a crowd of more than 30 to the Tuesday night Somers Zoning Board of Appeals meeting.

Marc Elliott Stiefeld of 2 Arthur Court asked for the permit in order to legalize an apartment in his single-family house.

“When I took over ownership, the apartment already existed,” Stiefeld said to the board. “I have three adult children who moved out. The person in the apartment is in the process of getting a divorce and didn’t have a place to live. I offered them the living space down below.”

Stiefeld said that when the building inspector notified him that he had to apply for a permit, he did. He also hired an architect who went through the home and drew up plans, which Stiefeld presented to the board.

Two neighbors, Richard Howie and Alfie Boniello, spoke on behalf of the applicant.

“I live next door and I face the entrance to the apartment. I don’t have a problem with it,” Howie said.

David and Margaret George, who live across the street, find the accessory apartment unacceptable.

“This is a neighborhood of homes priced over $1 million,” David George said. “An accessory apartment affects the stability of the home sales market by impacting the appraisal value of homes nearby. The overall appearance of the property has degenerated to a commercial appearance, gravel side yard and so forth.”

Some residents were concerned about water in the area running out and having to re-drill wells or sell their homes due to the cost of re-drilling. But Building Inspector Efrem Citarella said that water shouldn’t be an issue.

“The building code does encourage, as a social matter, the condition of these small apartments within the community, to provide space for people of age and youth to have at a modest rent so that the community can continue with these folks,” Clifford Wohlberg, chairman of the zoning board, said.

Margaret George raised the issue of an RV parked in Stiefeld’s driveway.

Stiefeld said that in October he approached the building inspector and told him that he wanted to park the 38-foot RV on his property. The inspector said it was permissible and also approved putting gravel underneath.

The board decided it would be prudent to make a site visit before voting on the application. The vote has therefore been deferred until after the next public hearing, scheduled for May 15 at 7:30 p.m.

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