East Hampton Hearing On New House Size Limits Thursday

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The East Hampton Town Board will hold a Public hearing tomorrow night, November 17, on the proposal to adjust proposed new constraints on the size of newly constructed homes in the town.

The board has introduced a new formula for calculating maximum house size on a given lot, after the original proposal brought to the public earlier this year was met with staunch criticism from homeowners, particularly those who own smaller parcels of land, for being too restrictive.

Currently, town code limits the amount of living space in a house, known as the gross floor area, or GFA, to 12 percent of the total square footage of the lot, plus 1,600 square feet.

Board members said that the limits, which were the topic of fierce opposition from the building and real estate trades when they were proposed in the early 2000s, were proving to be too liberal and were still allowing houses that have been deemed by planners and some residents as overly large for the property on which they sit.

In the original legislation last spring, the board proposed changing the GFA limit from 12 percent of the lot area plus 1,600 square feet to 10 percent of the lot area plus 1,000 square feet. The change would have slashed the potential size of a house on some lots nearly in half. That formula was again criticized by industry professionals as being too restrictive, particularly to those owners of lots under 1 acre in older residential neighborhoods like Springs.

So the board retooled the formula again, and has re-introduced the law with a new limit of 10 percent of the lot area plus 1,600 square feet.

Keeping the lower lot-size ratio but upping the additional square footage allowance lifts some of the burden off small lots while increasing the restriction on larger lots. For a 1-acre lot, the new formula would reduce the size of a house that could be built from about 6,400 square feet to about 5,600.

“It’s a modest step,” Supervisor Larry Cantwell said of the proposal. “We came up with a formula that we thought would help limit the size of houses, but at the same time be fair and reasonable. This has a smaller impact on small lots and larger impact on large lots, but in either case the differences are fairly modest.”

The hearing will be at Town Hall on Thursday evening at 6 p.m.

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