Village approves commercial study

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Citing the need to adjust the zoning code to address future commercial development, the East Hampton Village Board of Trustees agreed last week to spend $84,200 on a study to analyze what the future may hold.

At a work session on Thursday, April 3, the Village Board unanimously approved a proposal to employ the Melville-based planning firm Nelson, Pope & Voorhis to analyze the potential for development in the village’s commercial areas and recommend various code changes to prepare for it.

“Currently, our zoning code is cumulative—everything that’s allowed in residential is allowed in commercial, everything that’s commercial is allowed in manufacturing,” said Gene Cross, the village’s planning consultant, speaking before the board. “Some of the land uses are quite general … and perhaps they should be looked at more specifically.”

According to a March 4 proposal letter from Charles Voorhis and Kathy Eisenman of Nelson, Pope & Voorhis, the study would include an analysis of parking, traffic, pedestrian concerns, sanitary calculations, and other issues in commercial areas. At the conclusion of the study, which Village Board member Elbert T. Edwards said was expected to take about a year, the company will recommend code amendments to control commercial development and reduce additional traffic and parking demands that would come as a result of further development.

Before the proposal was passed, Village Mayor Paul F. Rickenbach said the board should be mindful of the costs of the project, “given the economic environment that’s out there,” but he described the study as part of a “continuing process” of governance in the village and an extension of the 2002 comprehensive plan.

During a February presentation in front of the village’s Planning and Zoning Committee, Ms. Voorhis and Ms. Eisenman said that it would cost $58,000. In their March 4 letter, they wrote that the estimated cost was increased to include bi-monthly or monthly meetings with village officials, two public presentations and a presentation to the Village Board, and the proposed creation of individual codes for the village’s commercial districts.

According to the village’s comprehensive plan, East Hampton Village contains six commercial business areas—the Village Center, or Main Street and Newtown Lane; north Newtown Lane; Gingerbread Lane; Cove Hollow, which includes Red Horse Market; Sheepfold, where CVS is located, and North Main Street.

In their discussion of the proposal in February, members of the Planning and Zoning Committee said they would like to focus on areas outside of the village’s Main Street-Newtown Lane area— which is the most dense commercial area of the village—in order to assess potential for development in outlying business areas.

Village Administrator Larry Cantwell said that the village’s comprehensive plan and its commercial district study, which was completed in 2002, highlighted differences between commercial areas in the village, but said that the zoning code tends to treat these separate areas “pretty similarly.”

“It may be that because of the uniqueness of these areas, they shouldn’t be treated as similarly as they are now,” Mr. Cantwell said. “I think that’s one of the things we want to look at,”

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