As noted in our last set of minutes, January saw 2 additional projects (450 Gin and 20 Gin) exempted from the height moratorium by the village trustees. The moratorium restricted for 6 months the granting of building permits where the height of the house is greater than 35 feet above the original grade in the FEMA Flood zone. It is set to expire in April. An extension (for what reason we are uncertain, since every application received an exemption) is being considered. Most other East End communities restrict houses in the flood zone to a maximum height of between 40 to 42 feet above sea level. The house at 40 Meadow Lane that sparked this issue will top out at more than 50 feet above sea level on less than one acre! We are continuing to urge the Trustees and the Planning Commission to change our laws in line with surrounding communities.
The historic wall at the Southampton Center for the Arts (the former Parrish) was extensively studied and discussed, with changes being proposed and approved by the trustees. A large opening and entry will be constructed in the center of the wall on the western side of the current main entry. The design will open up the west lawn to Jobs Lane and allow much easier access to the grounds. A grant covering about ½ of the cost has been made by Suffolk County.
The board of trustees discussed and eventually approved a proposal for Nelson, Pope and Voorhis (the village’s engineering and zoning consultants) to make recommendations on improving the process of applications through the building department. SHA board member Bruce Bockmann has been a leading voice in advocating improving this process, and we thank him for his efforts. The construction at 40 Meadow Lane was also discussed. A review of the project by Leonard Jackson, a leading engineering consultant who has worked closely with FEMA for decades, indicates that the design of the project does not comply with FEMA regulations. As a result, the village has filed an “Incident Report” with FEMA asking for clarification. We hope resolution of this project will occur shortly.
At the village, presentations were given by each department in February. Highlights included building department revenue increasing from $1.4 million to $2.6 million, with active permits increasing to 383 from 345. Chief Cummings gave an overview of police activities, and helicopter noise issues were discussed with East Hampton’s recent decision to limit landings causing a potential increase in landings in Southampton.
Lastly, at the town, numerous meetings were held regarding the Tuckahoe Mall. This project would require a zone change to “Shopping Center – Retailing” a designation which has been avoided along CR39 for decades and which the town’s own study opposes. The road is meant to be a thru-road, not a CR58-Riverhead style shopping destination. Safety on the road is already compromised, and adding high volume uses would be disastrous. Councilwoman Bridget Fleming has mentioned the possibility of using CPF funds to reduce high-volume commerce from this road by purchasing key properties. We strongly support her efforts.
March 30, 2015