East Hampton Village looks to clarify zoning rules

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The East Hampton Village Board of Trustees is seeking to draft clearer definitions in the village code for the use of conforming and non-conforming lots.

At a meeting on Friday, The Village Board set a March 16 public hearing on the proposed code changes, which Village Attorney Linda Riley said on Monday are intended to tighten language in the code that “isn’t easy to interpret.”

According to code, a lot that has been held in single and separate ownership since before January 16, 1959—the date the first zoning code was adopted—is exempt from the code’s lot area and width requirements. The code provides that a lot that merged with an adjoining lot any time after that date through the death of an owner “shall be deemed to have been in single and separate ownership.”

The language in the newly proposed section gets rid of the apparent exemption for merged parcels.

It would allow a structure to be erected on a non-conforming lot “provided that it has been held in continuous single and separate ownership since January 16, 1959.” The new amendment also states that if “at any time after January 16, 1959, a nonconforming lot shall be held in the same ownership as one or more of the adjoining parcels, the lot shall be merged with the adjoining parcel and shall lose its status as a nonconforming lot.”

Ms. Riley said that many people in recent years had asked her about the rules, confused by the old language in the code and whether it allowed adjacent lots that had been automatically merged after 1959 to be considered non-conforming, pre-existing in their old dimensions.

The code change, she said, was “just to clean it up, and make it clearer that a non-conforming lot may be eligible for a building permit as long as it has been held in single and separate ownership” since before current zoning.

Moran House study planned

As part of a plan to restore the house of 19th- and early 20th-century artist Thomas Moran on Main Street, the Village Board unanimously agreed to hire village historic preservation consultant Robert Hefner to prepare a $30,000 “historic structure report” on the building.

In March, the East Hampton Town Board agreed to spend $500,000 from the Community Preservation Fund on an historic preservation easement for the 19th-century house. The money will be paid to Guild Hall, which owns the building, and used to restore the structure’s exterior and the studio inside.

Mr. Hefner wrote in a letter in December to Peter Wolf, the chairman of the Thomas Moran House Committee at Guild Hall, that his report will “provide the information necessary to make the right decisions about restoring the Moran Studio,” and will include the results of researching archives related to the Moran House and its architectural features.

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