Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Inconsequential 200 Foot Radius

“With respect to applications which involve a public hearing, the Board shall cause a public notice of such hearing to be published once in the official newspaper at least 10 days prior to the hearing date, and the applicant shall cause a copy of such notice to be mailed to all property owners within 200 feet of the subject premises, as shown on the latest completed tax roll, measured along the frontage on both sides of the street, and to all other property owners located within 200 feet of the boundaries of the premises, by ordinary mail at least 10 days prior to the hearing date. The applicant shall submit proof of such mailing.” Southampton Village Zoning Code 116-32 D (2)

I believe more residents should be notified when renovation/new construction is proposed to take place in their neighborhoods, and I don’t believe the above 200 foot radius rule does that adequately. For example, it is completely conceivable that in the R-10 district a 200 foot radius could require 14 neighbors to receive notices, while only 8 would be sent notices in the R-40 district, and perhaps only one in the CR-200 district. Do you see where I’m going with this? The amount of neighbors that receive notices is directly related to the size of the property; the bigger the property, the fewer the notices. One could elaborate on that argument and talk about wealth and elitism, but I won’t go there. I believe either a formula should be derived so that the radius is determined by the lot size, and so that a proportionate amount of residents are notified when new work is proposed regardless of zoning district, or the radius rule should be abandoned and replaced by a requirement that every person owning property on the street where the work will occur shall receive a notice, whether the street is the length of Henry Street or Halsey Neck Lane. I’ll bet the Village would argue that because notices are also advertised in the local paper and because signs are posted in the front yards of the property where the work will occur they are doing their due diligence. I believe many more people pay attention to notices they receive in the mail than they do to the paper that many people don’t read, or to signs that most people don’t notice while driving by them. People love mail! Furthermore, I believe these notices should include copies of the proposed elevations of the project, which could be reduced onto two letter size sheets, cost only a few more pennies to include, and not increase the postage amount. These few changes would invite more public participation into the whole ARB process and help to ensure that new work appears compatible within our historic village.

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