Monday, May 16, 2011

Going Back to Old Codes

Over the last several months I have been contacted by a significant amount of village residents upon their realization of how large of a house can be built on a not so large size property here, and how much of that parcel can also be covered with other “improvements,” such as a pool, pool-house, shed, patio, garage, pool equipment, driveway, parking, etc., leaving very little yard remaining, and very little breathing room between it and adjacent properties. I believe that when the codes were changed in 2006 many people didn’t understand the physical consequences that would result. Now, five years later, that increased density has become much more noticeable. Well, guess what? Now someone wants to do something about it. Actually, it’s more like a group of people want to do something about it. They want to change the codes back to the way they were before 2006.

Of course, I am in agreement and am offering my assistance. Notice the link to a new petition on the top right hand of this blog. The last time I started a petition, for the enactment of illegal demolition consequences, I got over 80 signatures, which means a lot in this small village of ours. If you believe that the zoning codes should be changed, if not exactly as they were prior to 2006, at least so that properties cannot be built-out to within 1/100th of what is allowable, please, sign this petition! It seems too common in this Village to witness the over-development of a lot that would seem to any novice passerby way too small to be built upon in the first place.

Completely related to this issue, the Southampton Association (with over 350 members) recently submitted a letter to the Suffolk County Department of Health endorsing their recommendations upon the logical conclusion, and now documented discovery that “In Southampton Village Lake Agawam and Old Town Pond are suffering from high nutrient levels and poor water quality…..On the basis of these detailed models and studies, the Suffolk County Comprehensive Water Resources Management Plan recommends restricting increased unsewered density within the 25 year groundwater contributing areas to surface waters. We applaud this recommendation and urge its adoption…….On the basis of the evaluations of the existing groundwater quality and the groundwater modeling results, the Suffolk County Comprehensive Management Plan recommends Suffolk County Board of Health consider modifying Article 6 to require one acre density for all hydrologic zones unless provision is made for a higher level of treatment than the typical onsite waste disposal system or a TDR [Transfer of Development Rights] is implemented. We support this recommendation and find it essential for the protection and improvement of our surface waters.”

I absolutely cannot predict what the results of this effort will be, I mean, asking for smaller houses and less lot coverage? Is this possible?

When this village’s development originally took off, in the 1870s, people didn’t build out their lots to the maximum extent possible. Actually, there were no “maximum allowable extents;” people set guidelines on their own or with others in the neighborhood about what was appropriate in terms of set backs, etc. Then they built tasteful houses and carriage houses and barns that were in perfect proportion to their property enjoying all the space and openness and ocean air that was between them and their neighbors. I can’t imagine the original settlers, or even the first cottage colony developers, the DeBosts and the Thomas’, or even Samuel L. Parrish ever had the present extent of density in mind.

And this is a perfect time for this issue, and other preservation/aesthetic issues, to be raised as there is an election coming up June 17; the Mayor’s position and two Trustee positions are being contested. Elections provide excellent opportunities to ask candidates - new or existing - direct questions about their views on what we, the residents and visitors, believe is important and valuable to the community. And to the group of people interested in taking this on: Thanks for Getting Involved, and Go Get Em!

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