Parking Regs Pass Quietly

Without fanfare and with no public comment, the East Hampton Town Board voted unanimously on Nov. 20 to adopt amendments to its zoning code establishing parking requirements that could affect motels’ ability to add accessory uses such as a restaurant, bar, or retail store. 

The amendments were noisily debated, however, at an Oct. 4 public hearing, when Montauk residents and business owners weighed in emphatically on the proposal. The former group was unanimously in favor of a mechanism to control paralyzing traffic and what they called an out-of-control party atmosphere, while the latter pleaded with the board not to restrict their ability to offer amenities on which they said the modern tourist insists, and the executive director of the Montauk Chamber of Commerce complained that its 300-plus members had not been consulted in the drafting of the legislation. 

The board received public comment on the proposed amendments until Nov. 1. 

The amendments set an establishment’s parking requirement for its principal use, as calculated by the current code and not its preexisting nonconforming status, as a starting point. Adding an accessory use would compel the on-site addition of 50 percent of that use’s required parking as calculated by the code. That requirement can be reduced, however, if the planning board determines a reduced need based on conditions it imposed or through mitigation offered by the property owner. Properties seeking to add an accessory use are to be addressed on a case-by-case basis. 

Another amendment limits the floor area of a resort, motel, or club’s accessory use to one-third of the facility’s aggregate floor area. A third amendment limits any portion of such a business devoted to the sale of amenities such as T-shirts and other clothing and “logo” items to 100 square feet. 

Montauk residents at the Oct. 4 hearing had identified as problematic businesses including the Surf Lodge, Ruschmeyer’s, the Sloppy Tuna, the Montauk Beach House, the Atlantic Terrace, and Hero Beach Club, the latter two having recently changed hands, with their new ownership apparently seeking to add a restaurant or bar. Their quality of life has deteriorated, residents said, as Montauk’s popularity as a destination for young adults has soared. 

“We’ve had a public hearing on this,” Councilwoman Sylvia Overby, the board’s liaison to the business committee, said on Nov. 20. “We’ve received quite a few comments, and all the ones I received were in favor. The business committee also weighed in — it was not unanimous but was in favor of passing this legislation.”