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Tighter Zoning Will Have a Public Hearing

Thu, 09/21/2023 - 10:42

The East Hampton Town Board plans to hold the first public hearing on proposed changes to the town’s zoning code on Oct. 5, Councilwoman Cate Rogers said on Tuesday.

The hearing will focus on the section of the sprawling zoning code delineating its purposes, Ms. Rogers said. She had announced the formation of a zoning code amendment work group in May, following calls from residents to rein in a development boom that complies to the present code but, she said during the first substantive discussion of the work group’s progress at the board’s July 11 meeting, is “unprecedented in mass, size, and scale,” hinting at an amended code that would reduce allowable house size, clearing of vegetation, and lot coverage.

The work group’s objectives include the creation of a code to guide orderly development and redevelopment and to promote the goal of the town’s comprehensive plan “to reduce overall buildout to minimize adverse impacts on the town’s infrastructure and municipal budgets, and to protect natural and cultural features.” Proper use of land “to minimize adverse environmental and quality of life impacts of commercial and industrial uses” is another. Protection of “local ecological integrity and biodiversity” and minimizing “degradation of natural systems” is also an objective.

The “purposes” section of the zoning code must be brought into compliance with the goals outlined in the comprehensive plan, Ms. Rogers said on Tuesday. Depending on public comment at the hearing, the board will seek to adopt the amended description of the code’s purposes.

Board members said they had received no negative feedback following the discussion at the July 11 meeting. There was one comment on Tuesday, however. Jackie Lowey, an East Hampton real estate agent, said the work group does not reflect “the broad spectrum of views of our diverse community,” noting “the absence of the business community, the real estate community, the building trades, which seems odd and a lost opportunity to attempt to achieve balance and community consensus as you work through these complicated issues.”

Ms. Lowey urged that, rather than setting arbitrary limits on house sizes, there should be consideration of “the changes in use patterns” of residences, which she said are “often purchased and designed as multigenerational homes” in which extended family members stay for short periods, and which now often include offices to accommodate remote work.

“I believe strongly in reasonable restrictions that protect the character and natural resources of this town,” Ms. Lowey said, “but please, as you do this, be mindful and protective of not diminishing the value of homes and land in the process. These are our primary assets.”


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