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New Town Housing to Be Christened ‘Cantwell Court’

Thu, 08/31/2023 - 07:50
Town of East Hampton

Not unlike a married couple choosing the fixtures for a house largely built, the planning board met last week to finalize the subdivision plans for 395 Pantigo Road, the town’s 16-lot affordable housing project. The houses will line a cul-de-sac with a working name of Cantwell Court, after Larry Cantwell, who retired as East Hampton Town Supervisor in 2017 after a long career serving both the village and the town.

Eric Schantz, director of housing, told the board there were five issues left to consider: The preservation of large trees, whether sidewalks should line the road, stormwater management, clearing restrictions (due to the Northern long-eared bat), and access to the vacant five-acre Community Preservation Fund lot abutting the development.

Large areas of the 12-acre parcel will remain untouched — the C.P.F. preserve to the north and the 50-foot-wide “flagpole” that would connect to it along the subdivision’s west side. Roughly 100-foot-wide buffer areas, just shy of an acre in total, would shield the southern portion of the development from Route 27.

 The road itself, and all the building lots, would be fully cleared. In question, however, was a 12-foot strip of trees between the edge of the road and the beginning of each building lot.

“I think it’s important for us to keep any of the big trees,” said Randy Parsons, a board member. He suggested marking each tree with a six-inch caliper for preservation.

“If you do a six-inch caliper,” said Mr. Shantz, “we will be mapping every single tree on this property, which will get tedious and expensive.” Instead, he recommended roping off 12 feet from the edge of the road and preserving the woodland within that area.

The board agreed.

The next question involved the same 12-foot area; should sidewalks run through it, parallel to the road?

“We don’t feel that any sidewalks are needed,” said Mr. Shantz.

Mr. Parsons came up instead with a rather romantic idea: an improved footpath, perhaps paved, “meandering through the trees.” Ian Calder-Piedmonte agreed with him. “I think we have dangerous roadways for pedestrians, and I don’t think we should continue to design that way,” he said. “I’m in favor of some sort of formal path that’s not on the road.”

The rest of the board, however, demurred, satisfied with a three-foot shoulder. “It’s a short street with eight houses on either side. The sense of community will be such that people won’t be speeding down the street,” said the board chairman, Samuel Kramer.

As to the Northern long-eared bat, there was more consensus, if a little confusion. “It’s a federally endangered species,” said Mr. Schantz. “Local municipalities have to come up with a management plan, for example, like the piping plovers, that we do. But I haven’t heard anything of it. It seems odd to me. Once we do, we’ll follow it to the letter.”

Speaking for the Planning Department, Tina Vavilis LaGarenne, the  principal planner, encouraged the voluntary implementation of clear cutting only from Dec. 1 to Feb. 28, when the bats are hibernating. During that time, she told the board, “bats are not expected to be present. You have to clear during those times.”

The board agreed that clearing when the endangered species was present was a bad idea. Mr. Calder-Piedmonte wanted to take it a step further, rather than make it voluntary. “We should formalize that,” he said. “Seems like it’s not too onerous that you should just restrict your clearing. The town should go above and beyond to comply, even though it sounds technically voluntary.”

Finally, the board agreed that there should be only one access to the five-acre C.P.F. preserve, located in a southern portion of the development, and that the preserve should be open to the public, not restricted to Cantwell Court residents.

The State Department of Environmental Conservation is in charge of the stormwater plan, and all agreed to let the state handle it.

With that, the planning board edged closer to approving 16 new affordable houses, a big win.

A public hearing was held during the same meeting regarding changes being made to Carissa’s Bakery, which, in July, received necessary variances from the Zoning Board of Appeals. Only two residents spoke; neither was opposed to the changes.

However, Lorraine Bonaventura, a Spring Close Lane resident, urged the board to consider the Carissa’s application in a larger context. “There are a lot of things that are beginning to impact this entire neighborhood,” she said. “In considering this application, and the affordable housing, and possibly what happens with the Stern’s lot and other businesses, you should consider the character going from East Hampton to Amagansett — and include the state in the planning if there needs to be a traffic light at Spring Close Highway, which has now become a very busy throughway.”

Not mentioned by Ms. Bonaventura was the recently built eight-house Handy Lane development, just down the road. It caused consternation among Amagansett residents last year when large swaths of trees were clear cut during construction. Its $5 million-dollar houses, several already in contract, are visible through a thin vegetative buffer along Route 27.

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