In a decision that will have implications for historic districts across Long Island, the New York Supreme Court reversed decisions by the Village of Bellport's Zoning Board of Appeals and Historic Preservation Commission which barred the use of synthetic Hardi-Board siding on homes within one of its designated historic districts. Egan & Golden represented a homeowner who had twice been denied a Certificate of Appropriateness by the Bellport Historic Preservation Commission (HPC) and the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA). The homeowner, residing in Bellport's famed Jacob Bell House, sought permission to install Hardi-Board siding on the exterior of his home. Brian T. Egan and associate Christopher Bianco commenced an Article 78 proceeding on behalf of the homeowner arguing that the language of the Historic District's regulations expressly permitted synthetic siding materials so long as they conformed to the visual and architectural character of the historic district. The firm compiled substantial research showing that Hardi-Board, a cementitious siding product, is not only more energy efficient and cheaper to install and maintain, but also bears a close resemblance to the wood clapboard that decorated the colonial homes of the 19th century. Justice Mayer of the Supreme Court, Suffolk County agreed with the firm's analysis of both Hardi-Board siding and Bellport's historic district regulations and ultimately reversed the HPC and ZBA's determinations. A copy of Justice Mayer's decision and order can be found here.
The use of Hardi-Board on historically designated structures has been a hotly contested issue in preservation districts across the country. This case is the first of its kind on Long Island and Justice Mayer's decision here may guide courts and preservation districts in New York and across the country when determining the appropriate use of modern materials on historic structures.