The Stony Hill Stables subdivision was approved at the East Hampton Town Planning Board meeting on Sept. 28. Passed by five votes, with two members absent, the application allows the property owner, Elizabeth Hotchkiss, to turn the 50-year-old riding academy in Amagansett into a horse farm with three building lots and an agricultural reserve.
There was community support at the public hearing on Aug. 10 to save the academy, and a petition was submitted to request that East Hampton Town and the Peconic Land Trust work together to purchase the development rights to the property on Town Lane. While Ms. Hotchkiss remains open to this possibility, she is moving along with the subdivision plan as a means to provide for her future financial stability, she said.
JoAnne Pahwul, the town’s assistant planning director, explained that land preservation is not within the board’s jurisdiction. She also said that the project meets town code requirements.
“The academy has been in operation for 50 years, and it’s part of the community,” said Peter Van Scoyoc, a board member. “People supported the idea for the riding academy use to continue through town funds, C.P.F. [community preservation] funds. That’s not our purview. Those comments were directed to us, but we don’t have any influence over purchase of property.” According to Mr. Van Scoyoc, the plan preserves 70 percent of the land for agriculture. “It all meets code, and no variances are required. I support the application. The density for horses is actually being reduced,” he said.
The plan calls for dividing the nearly 10.3-acre parcel into three building lots of about a half acre each with a 7.8-acre agricultural reserve. The reserve is to contain three stables, a shed, an office, and an 8,996-square-foot indoor riding arena.
Some concerns were raised by neighbors at the hearing about lot size, increased truck traffic, and impact on groundwater. Patrick Schutte, a board member, inspected the driveway prior to the meeting. “The layout is appropriate. I drove in and there is room to turn around, but it isn’t being utilized. We’re ready for approval here,” he said.
“I agree with the comments. I thought that was really a special public hearing we had,” said Reed Jones, the board’s chairman. “There were all different age groups. Some people were for it; some against it. I think it’s a benefit for the community, I support the application.”
The planning board’s approval is pending written approval from the Suffolk County Health Department.