Monday, October 4, 2010

Cars are Changing the Streetscapes

In August of 2009 the village codes were changed via Local Law No. 4 to give the Chief Building Inspector the authority to allow off-street parking in front and side yards where before it was prohibited. It seems that supplemental residential activities had become the highest priorities to property owners and that garages, cars, and parking spaces were among the lowest. People wanted their cars in the front, even out on the street, so as to free up the rest of the property for their yards, pool, pool house, gazebo, shed, deck/patio, etc. In essence, when they are “living” there, they don’t want to see their cars.

Well neither do we.
Now we see more and more cars in the front yards and even on the street which is a suburban trend (along with front facing garages that are not detached and set back in the rear) and contradictory to the character of Southampton Village. Some are even going so far as to create hedged in corals for cars so they are less visible. Garages are being used as storage or being converted into pool cabanas and cars are being relegated to the last possible placement on the property. There are even cars on the street because the driveway has become the basketball court. (I’m not anti-basketball courts (great familytime), just put your car in the garage!)

Section 116-14-C of our code dictates that each house shall have two parking spaces. If the house has more than three bedrooms, there needs to be another space for each additional bedroom. So for a six bedroom house there would need to be five spaces. Two can be in a garage, but then three more need to be provided. And now they can just line up in the driveway or in front of the house.

Gone are the days when a lovely carriage would arrive pulling into a driveway to arrive at the house, drop off the passengers, and continue along to be PUT AWAY in the carriage house, thereby not marring the beauty of the house’s face to the street.

The loveliness of our village’s streets should not be marred with cars, no matter what the make or model. Most of us can’t have everything. Parking should stay out of the public’s view and relegated to garages and rear yards. When choosing between the patio, pool, pool house, shed, or playground, something will have to be sacrificed in order to keep the street vistas lovely.
Our zoning codes should not be modified to accommodate building trends or preferences that are not in harmony with the character of our historic village.

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