In what could be the first of sweeping relaxation of zoning laws, the East Hampton Village Board last week made it easier for the owners of large properties to get more of what they apparently wanted. The recent revisions would allow for both larger houses with all their associated bells and whistles and for some properties to add a new second residence, something not allowed until now. One of them would, somewhat perplexingly, exempt beach walkways from maximum height requirements.
The specificity of some of the changes could be a red flag in that they are being made to solve a challenge facing a single property. This is risky business because it could put land use decisions right where they should not be — in the hands of politicians. Structurally, local governments are formed to avoid insider influence on planning and zoning matters; the idea behind lengthy and staggered terms on appointed boards is to keep them away from politics.
While one might sympathize with residents who have the means to build supposed staff housing on the larger properties in the village and those who want bigger houses to live in or a higher return on their development investments, these come at too great a cost. The region is crowded enough already, and its workforce and infrastructure are already stretched thin. East Hampton Village has reached a point at which it should be thinking about less, not more.