On June 11, the Village’s Historic Preservation and Architectural Review Board (ARB) issued its decision, by a 3-to-2 vote, approving the latest plan to expand Mocomanto, one of the most historic homes in our Village and often called “jewel of Southampton.” Under the approved plan, Mocomanto’s length on its most visible and important elevation, facing Lake Agawam, will increase by 98%, and Mocomanto’s footprint will increase by 82% from 3120 sf to 5911 sf. This doesn’t include the new detached garage of 800 sf. The house’s existing interior GFA of 5040 sf will increase by 57% (2858 sf) to 7898 sf, not including the pool house of 861 sf.
The three-member ARB majority consisted of longtime ARB members, Chair Curtis Highsmith, Christina Redding, and recently appointed ARB member Rob Coburn who cast the deciding vote. ARB members Jeffrey Brodlieb and Susan Stevenson dissented. In his dissent, Jeff makes the important point that the Mocomanto approval process was flawed: “Despite a period of over forty-five days since the last and final public hearing regarding this Application, a draft of the Written Decision was only provided to the Board at noon this date, only seven hours prior to the Board’s meeting and scheduled vote for this evening. This is a disservice to the community and precludes the requisite discourse in a matter that the author of the Written Decision in that draft states ‘may be one of the most contested applications presided upon by this Board.’” As the dissents also make clear, the ARB’s Mocomanto decision is not consistent with the Village Code or the Secretary of Interior’s Guidelines for significant alterations to historic buildings.
Our Village will be lost if the ARB continues to fail in its duty to preserve our most historic homes. Our small town, rural charm is what makes Southampton a special (and valuable) place. That charm is fast eroding. For example, in 2014, after approving the demolition of a Betts cottage at 40 Meadow Lane on the promise that it would be “replicated,” the ARB approved the concrete structure now looming over the Historic District.
Monday’s Mocomanto decision is particularly troubling following the ARB’s October 2017 decision approving the massive new construction at 24-28 Gin Lane and the ZBA’s decision, also in October 2017, approving many variances for the benefit of a ZBA member who owned property on Hill Street.
The Mocomanto decision represents a failure of historic preservation. It ignores the unique architecture of Mocomanto. It flies in the face of all principles of historic preservation. It sets a dangerous precedent that threatens the Village’s entire Historic District.
To express your opposition to the Mocomanto decision and, more importantly, the process that was undertaken to reach it, as well as the lack of meaningful change in our Village’s broken process for reviewing applications in our Historic District, please write to Mayor Irving and the Village Trustees. Here are their email addresses:
Michael G. Irving, Mayor firstname.lastname@example.org
Richard W Yastrzemski, Trustee email@example.com
Nancy C McGann, Trustee firstname.lastname@example.org
William Hattrick, Trustee email@example.com
Kimberly Allan, Trustee firstname.lastname@example.org
You can also send a letter to Joe Shaw, the editor of the Southampton Press. The deadline is Monday at noon. His email is email@example.com.
Open link for rendering of the additions to Mocomanto.