Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Please Support this Code Change - June 24, 2014

Private Residence, Montauk Highway, Westhampton
The Town of Southampton is considering making a change to their codes that would provide an attractive perk to some owners of historic structures. In exchange for designating them as local landmarks, they would be able to have a legal guest (aka "carriage") house on their property WITHOUT having to acquire a development right.

Private Residence, Eastport
Local landmark designation adds a preservation layer to the historic structure(s) situated there and to its context. Any changes to the property and the building(s) have to get approval from the local Landmarks Board. The same situation exists all over the place, here in Sag Harbor and Southampton Village, in Cape Cod and many other places in Massachusetts, in New York City, in Savannah, Georgia, in Charleston, South Carolina, etc. These local designation codes were put into effect across the country in the late 1960s-early 1980s in order to protect the historic fabric of each town, a critical component to every place's identity. Local landmark designation does NOT reduce property values, mean you can't change or enlarge your house, or inundate you with restrictions.

Ezekiel Sandford House, Bridgehampton
Development rights are a traded commodity. You've probably heard of them when farm owners sell the development rights to their property. Each property inherently has development rights. In order to increase the density of your property, you have to acquire more development rights. In the town of Southampton, if you want a guest (aka "carriage") house on your property, in addition to meeting minimum lot size and other criteria, you have to buy, or "transfer", a development right. Out here, east of the canal they can be purchased for about $100,000 each; west of the canal, the cost is about $50,000. However, if you are an owner of a qualifying historic structure, and you are willing to designate it as a landmark, you can have a legal guest (aka "carriage") house without having to acquire the development right; the town will simply extinguish one of the development rights in their bank of rights, in exchange for you adding this layer of preservation protection to your property.

437 Flanders Road, Riverside
This is a very important code change because out here in Southampton, owners need more incentive to protect their historic structures. Sentimental value is caving under the more attractive purchase prices savvy developers are able to offer.

724 Montauk Highway, East Quogue
Sprinkled throughout this post are images of homes that would benefit from this code change. Like every code change, however, public input is needed. The town board will consider this code change at a public hearing, June 24th, at 6pm, at town hall: 116 Hampton Road, Southampton, NY 11968. Public input is very much needed. If you are able to come speak in support, your participation will be welcome and valuable. If you cannot, please consider sending an email to the town clerk (sschermeyer@southamptontownny.gov) that says something along the lines of "I urge the town board to approved the proposed change to codes 330-9D(4) and 330-324(D)," and be sure to include your name and address. Copying me would also be nice.

Fingers crossed!