Several East Hampton Town residents—primarily of the Springs hamlet, where the parking of commercial trucks on residential streets and lots has sparked complaints—spoke out last week during a Town Board hearing on proposed restrictions on the parking of such vehicles.
The residents largely favored limiting overnight street parking of big trucks for safety purposes, the focus of one of two related public hearings on the issue before the Town Board October 17. The proposed local law—intended to maintain the residential character of the neighborhood and eliminate traffic hazards—would prohibit commercially registered vehicles on any street in a residentially zoned area between midnight and 6 a.m.
But they differed on the second proposal, which would limit the parking of such vehicles on residential properties to two, each with a gross vehicle weight rating of 14,000 pounds or less. Examples of vehicles that would be allowed in this limit are the Dodge Ram 3500, the Ford F-450, the GMC 4500. The restriction would not apply to vehicles that are temporarily parked for the active delivery of products.
Councilman Peter Van Scoyoc noted how full-blown businesses are not allowed in residential neighborhoods. “A number of these businesses that are operating clearly are operating businesses. It’s not just a matter of the fact that they’re parking trucks there. There’s all sorts of evidence that there’s commercial activity going on there.” He had previously asked to table the hearing pending further study.
Some residents called for the second proposal to be stricter, allowing zero trucks, or one truck, but with a lighter weight limit.
Rita Wasserman of Springs, suggested no commercial trucks be allowed to park on residential lots. She built her house 14 years ago in a “lovely residential community” in which she still wants to live, she told the board.
“Heavy duty trucks and construction and landscaping equipment parked on my neighbor’s driveway gives me major shudders—that I could be living in a construction zone,” she said. “I’m thinking no trucks. If you’re having a business, you can afford to go to a lot somewhere.”
Carol Buda, also of Springs, called the resolution “ill conceived” and urged for just one vehicle and a weight limit of 10,000 pounds or less. She also pointed to Southampton Town, whose restrictions, she said, are stricter to maintain single-family zoning and protect residents. The issue in East Hampton, meanwhile, she said, has worsened over the past two years, with ever larger and more numerous trucks and construction equipment, she said.
“Perhaps former violators from Southampton are migrating here to East Hampton, where the laws are more lax,” she said, to chuckles from the audience, calling the board’s lack of action an action in itself. “Make no mistake: this steady deterioration of residential areas of town does not bode well for the future of East Hampton. With this proposal, the board has failed to put the residential zoning code first. Rather, this board continues to pick winners and losers by favoring certain businesses, such as landscapers and contractors. The law exists to protect all the residents, not just a chosen few.”
On the other hand, Iris Osborn of Wainscott, cautioned about the loss of working-class residents. Plumbers, carpenters and electricians, she said, cannot afford to live here and so have moved away. Of those who can afford to stay, many live in Springs, where they are now getting priced out.
“You have to consider the working people,” she said. It’s wonderful to have a community with no trucks, but who’s going to service the people who live in those communities?”
Martin Drew of Springs, a lifelong carpenter who, immediately following the hearings, announced his write-in bid for the town supervisor’s seat in next month’s election, supported the street proposal, but, regarding the proposal regarding residential parking, suggested the town create “truck farms” in each hamlet, where truck owners could park.
“I think you guys need to identify at least one piece of commercially-zoned land in each hamlet so that tradesmen—that’s what we’re called—can network with each other,” he said, adding, “We are entitled to have some of these vehicles on our residences.”
He said he has a trailer in his yard, “And I don’t want you to take it away from me, and the reality is I use it for whatever I feel like using it for.”
David Buda of Springs, sporting a green-and-yellow baseball cap with his hamlet’s name on it, displayed posters showing several photos of dump trucks, trailers and construction equipment, along with the addresses at which they have been parked, as well as different-weight vehicles.
He supported the street-parking law, which, he joked, closed a “loophole big enough to drive a Mack Truck through,” but suggested the board also include right-of-ways in addition to the roads, and that it apply to trailers in addition to commercially registered vehicles.
But he strongly opposed the residential parking proposal, saying it would exempt from the prohibition of “nonresidential activity” in residential zones the parking of up to two commercial vehicles.
He urged the board to go out and look and the trucks to determine where the line should be drawn, and the best line, he said, is under 14,000 pounds.