Legendary actor Robert De Niro has applied to the East Hampton Town Zoning Board of Appeals asking to tear down and rebuild his house on Old Montauk Highway. The house, built in the 1950s before zoning laws, is much closer to the ocean than would be allowed today.
The property, about 1.5 acres, has been owned by De Niro since the 1980s. (He applied to build a much larger house about 20 years ago, but it never happened.) The property is on a steep slope terraced with retaining walls, and on the lowest level is a concrete pool added in 1969. The ZBA meeting minutes notes that “The existing residence is has a footprint of 1,920 sq. ft. and is one story on the northern (street) side and two stories as the grade drops to the south (waterfront) side of the property.”
The property presents some unique issues because of the topography. Variances are required to build lower on the bluff than the 125′ setback currently required. Also, as the minutes note, “Although the 20′ wide flagstrip in the western portion of the property provides street frontage to Old Montauk Highway, the residence obtains its physical access from a serpentine driveway that spans two separate properties on the east side of the lot.”
De Niro plans to build a new house on the same basic footprint as the old and retain the pool and concrete patio around it. Normally, the ZBA would require the new home and pool be moved away from the ocean, but owing to the steep slope of the land, that would require excavation and disturbance of the natural bluff, so it’s not optimal. We’ll keep you posted.