New House-Size Limits

New rules limiting the size of houses that can be built on different-size properties in East Hampton Town are under discussion following a tightening of house-size rules in East Hampton Village last year and a recent discussion of similar issues in Sag Harbor resulting in a law setting house-size limits in the village for the first time.

“We allow much larger homes in proportion to lot sizes than we should,” East Hampton Town Supervisor Larry Cantwell said at a board meeting on Tuesday. “I think we need to address our gross floor area,” he said. “I think it should be less.”

The size of houses “relates to a number of issues,” he said, “population, water quality, character of neighborhoods.”

East Hampton’s code currently allows a residence’s gross floor area to be 12 percent of the total lot area, plus 1,600 square feet.

The board will review options that could reduce that maximum, based on a chart prepared for it by the Planning Department that shows comparable laws in surrounding areas.

Mr. Cantwell said that he supports a standard previously used by East Hampton Village, limiting houses to 10 percent of their lot area, plus 1,000 square feet. Councilwoman Kathee Burke-Gonzalez asked for further information on what the various potential ratio formulas could mean. The matter is expected to be discussed again at the board’s Aug. 16 work session.

Other code amendments under discussion pertain to how gross floor area is defined, such as whether basement area is included, and how total lot coverage is calculated, considering such things as roof overhangs.

The combination of standards, Mr. Cantwell said, must be considered as to overall effect, because “if you add it all together, it could become too restrictive.”

Nonetheless, he said, “There is still a good deal of development and redevelopment that could take place. . . . This would be a good time to have a better policy on it.”