My name is Dr. Caterina Violi-Baranello and I live at 2A Makamah Beach Road, Northport, NY.
I have lived there for over 17 years. My property is waterfront and located in a Coastal Erosion Hazard Zone (CEHZ). I am writing this letter as a formal complaint pertaining to the actions of my neighbor, Nicholas Liolis at 4 Makamah Beach Road, Northport, who applied to the Town of Huntington for a permit to renovate his home.
After applying for and receiving a permit for a renovation, he intentionally and willfully
demolished the structure so that what remained was barren land. This included the full removal
of the basement walls and footings. He did not have a demolition permit and had no
authorization or permits for new construction. He then proceeded to have an excavator dig a
hole for a new foundation, poured footings and poured a new foundation absent any Town
inspections, and began framing a new home/structure without any permits.
When the Town became aware of the construction that was completely contrary to the submitted
plans for renovations to an existing structure with no footprint changes, a stop work order was
issued. The Town acknowledged that he did not have a demolition permit, a permit for a new
home to be built or a Coastal Erosion Hazard Permit. He also did not have any sanitary permits
or inspections for new footings but yet he continued to build. The work was carried out by a
seasoned architect/ builder who knows the laws and requirements, so this was not an accidental
oversight. It was a deliberate action most likely done in the spirit of the old saying that it’s easier
to ask for forgiveness than permission.
My main objection is that Mr. Liolis’ poured his foundation in a different location than the
previous one he demolished. Specifically, the new structure is being constructed both seaward
and closer to the sideyard between our homes. In moving his house closer to the waterfront, Mr.
Liolis has cut-off my western view since the previous home (and other adjacent homes along the
waterfront) were originally constructed the same distance from the waterfront. This allowed
each home to have un-obstructed views (180 degrees) from their windows facing Long Island
Sound as homes are in alignment. This encroachment seaward violates the Town’s strict Coastal
Erosion Hazard Zone (CEHZ) Law that was enacted to keep houses from expanding seaward.
The NYS DEC has jurisdiction over tidal wetland areas, but homes with bulkheads are exempt if
the bulkhead is functional and constructed prior to 1977 when the Tidal Wetlands Act was
enacted. Mr. Liolis has a letter of DEC “Non-Jurisdiction” in terms of the Tidal Wetlands Act as
does just about every property owner on Makamah Beach Road since we all have old bulkheads.
But this should not be confused with the DEC’s CEHZ Law that Huntington adopted and enact
and oversees on behalf of the DEC. The CEHZ Law is a separate process, and has nothing to do
with the Tidal Wetlands Act. Confusing the two would be like saying a person with a valid
driver’s license doesn’t need to register his car, or vice versa.
Around 2010, I applied to the Town Building Department to renovate my home. I was told that I
would not be able to expand seaward and that I could only expand away from the waterfront. At
the time, as part of my renovation I wanted to build a small deck off of my first floor seaward,
but my application was denied by the Town on CEHZ grounds. This was not what I desired.
Although my house was grandfathered-in since it pre-dates the DEC and Town’s CEHZ
enactment, the Town made a determination that there could be no development seaward. I was
also told that if I ever completely demolished my home, I could never rebuild in the same
location and certainly not seaward. I would only be allowed to build behind the boundaries of
the Coastal Erosion Hazard Zone line depicted on the map set forth by NYS – DEC. I was also
told that I could file an appeal. I proceeded to file for a variance, and a Town Board hearing was
scheduled. I hired an experienced and knowledgeable architect and expediter and went formally
before the Town Board at a public hearing. I was directly involved in all steps of the process,
including the denial explanation that provided the reasons why I could not construct seaward.
Ultimately, I was forced to modify my renovation plans to satisfy the requirements set forth by
the Town of Huntington and DEC vis a vis the Coastal Erosion Hazard permit I was issued.
Despite my profound disappointment, I complied and proceeded with my renovation, and
followed all regulations and mandates placed upon me by the Town. In short my request was
denied and I was unable to expand seaward in any way and was only able to expand towards the
At this juncture, I am very concerned that Daniel Martin, Director of Engineering, is setting the
stage to not enforce the regulations set forth by the Town and the DEC in spite of the fact that
Mr. Litzke (Maritime Services) denied the new plan. The reason that I make this bold statement
is that when I discussed the aforementioned case with Mr. Martin, he stated that I either
misunderstood 10 years ago in reference to my ability to build seaward, or, the Town of
Huntington made a mistake 10 years ago when they told me that I could not build seaward. I
was actually shocked by his response and I am certain that I neither misunderstood, nor did the
Town make a mistake in their decision not allowing me to construct seaward.
It appears that perhaps Mr. Martin does not understand the difference between a DEC letter of
“Non Jurisdiction” for Tidal Wetland’s activities versus the CEHZ Law and requirements. These
two regulatory requirements are separate and apart from each other! Furthermore, Mr. Martin
seemed to feel that an owner demolishing a house and pouring a new foundation in a different
place is something that can be “cleaned-up” with an after-the-fact variance.
This illegal structure should not be allowed to remain. And there is Town precedence for tearing
it down. About 10 years ago, another homeowner began construction on a new house at 215
Waterside Rd (SCTM# 400-10-2-6). The owner poured the new foundation and began
construction without permits. The Town issued a stop work order. The owner attempted to get a
ZBA variance to keep the structure, but was ultimately denied and forced to tear-down the entire
framed structure and remove the new foundation as well. Today this parcel sits as a vacant lot.
The Town’s action at 215 Waterside Road is similar to what the Village of Northport did with
the much-publicized illegal construction by Tom Kehoe. In these cases, it was good public
policy to see municipalities enforcing the law. Otherwise, you will be giving me and my
neighbors permission to have our houses lifted and moved seaward to match that of Mr. Liolis
without repercussion to restore our views.
Lastly, I want to disclose to you that I have hired an attorney, and provided information to the
DEC’s Legal Department at the Region 1 office in Stony Brook, asking them to intercede and
take an active position pertaining to enforcing the CEHZ Act.
On a more personal note, these are tough times, and it is very unfair that I have to individually
undertake this costly action due to Mr. Martin’s comments defending Mr. Liolis’ actions. But
my home is my sanctuary, and like all my neighbors, we own our homes with the predictability
that everyone must conform to the rules. Yet Mr. Martin’s actions tell me that there is a good
chance that the Town of Huntington may ignore their own law. I cannot sit by idly if the wheels
are in motion to override and allow this home to receive an unjustified and indefensible variance
given the circumstances that includes a self-created hardship by an arrogant owner who flouts the