Extend Development Moratorium

Town hits pause button again as consultants work to complete hamlet studies

The East Hampton Town Board voted on Tuesday to extend by six months a moratorium on development in Wainscott. The moratorium, enacted in November 2016, applies to propertry zoned for central business or commercial-industrial use and to residential parcels being used for nonresidential purposes. 

An extension of the moratorium is meant to allow the town to complete the Wainscott hamlet study, which is underway and which may come up with proposed changes to the zoning code and other laws that could affect future development. The moratorium prohibits the town planning board from approving subdivisions or site plans.

The affected area is primarily along Montauk Highway, bordered by the Long Island Rail Road tracks to the north, Town Line Road to the west, and the East Hampton Village boundary to the east. The area already has the most traffic in the hamlet, and additional development could negatively impact neighboring residential properties. 

In a May 1 presentation to the board, Peter Flinker, of Dodson and Flinker, a Massachusetts consulting firm, and Lisa Liquori, of Fine Arts and Sciences, who is a former town planning director, said Wainscott’s commercial district is inconsistent and not always aesthetically pleasing, with parking in front of some structures and behind others. Supervisor Peter Van Scoyoc said at the meeting that the town’s westernmost hamlet is characteristic of “development done haphazardly and organically over time,” resulting in traffic problems. 

Also on Tuesday, Andy Gaites, a senior environmental analyst in the town’s land acquisition department, told the board that emergency vehicle access at the Rod’s Valley park preserve adjacent to Montauk’s Hither Woods should be rerouted landward. Part of the path is along the water’s edge on Fort Pond Bay and it often becomes impassable due to erosion and storm debris, including large rocks and logs, he said. 

Mr. Gaites proposed a new access trail that would traverse Hither Woods, which is owned by the state, Suffolk County, and the town, and Rod’s Valley, which is town owned. It is an obvious location, he said, as the path was previously disturbed by a dirt road. Little or no valuable vegetation would be lost, he said. 

The state’s Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation is willing to work with the land acquisition department to “get this job done in-house,” Mr. Gaites said, at little cost to the town. 

“To pull the trail off the beach is probably a good idea,” Supervisor Van Scoyoc said. His colleagues agreed. 

In other matters, at its meeting next Thursday, at 6:30 p.m., the board will hold public hearings aimed at addressing the scarcity of parking at the three lots serving the ocean beach at Ditch Plain in Montauk. One hearing will consider whether to amend the code to prohibit parking trailers there, while another will address whether to add restrictions to parking, including a residents-only designation.