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May 10, 2011 5:14 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press

East Hampton Town Board Hears Debate Over Baker House Request

May 10, 2011 5:44 PM

An East Hampton Town Board meeting last Thursday evening was dominated by a heated debate over the proposed rezoning of a historic Amagansett property.

The owner of the 155-year-old Jeremiah Baker house on Main Street asked the Town Board last year to rezone his home to allow him and his wife to refurbish and repair furniture and sell quilts there. At a public hearing on the request last week, critics called it a clear case of “spot zoning,” while the applicant and his attorney argued it was innocuous.

The Town Board listened to the arguments for one and a half hours, but did not vote on the request.

“It establishes a precedent and greases the slide of our beloved town into the typical undesirable and ugly state of most of the towns throughout Long Island,” said one critic, Helen Kuzmier, an Amagansett resident.

Paul Masi, who recently bought a lot adjacent to the Baker house with the intention of building a home there, said it would be unfair for the town to rezone the property. “My wife and I are completely distraught over this,” he said.

The owner of the Baker House, Tom Burke, said Mr. Masi is his only residential neighbor, and he was willing to create a buffer between the properties. He also said there is already a busy bus stop in front of his house, and said his business would have no negative impacts on the community. “I just want to try and make a living from my property,” he said.

Mr. Burke is asking the Town Board to add a “limited business” use to his property, which is zoned “residential.” The property had the designation until the town’s most recent Comprehensive Plan update in 2005, when it was removed, according to Councilman Pete Hammerle, to form a clean break between commercial and residential sections of Main Street.

Councilwoman Theresa Quigley said planners told her the change was based on recommendations from the Amagansett Corridor Study. But when she looked at the study, she said, she found that it recommended expanding limited business uses on residential properties.

Mr. Burke’s attorney, Andy Hammer, said that non-residential properties, including a church and a school, continue beyond the Baker house, and that limited business uses can help ensure the preservation of historic properties. “Our code recognizes that limited business uses are compatible with residential development,” he said.

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WHY are all these articles locked now?? So that in order to actually comment, we have to purchase an online script? Well..I'll go pick my paper up, which I enjoy, and then we will all sit around and "comment" on our own..Good discussion that the Press misses out on....:( take the locks off please!
By gansetteer (125), East Hampton on May 11, 11 9:49 AM
Believe me when I say...and I know...the process that led this property to having the LBO removed was spot zoning. The Comp Plan was used as a cover. Very sneaky by Foster and her crew. Not the only item in the Comp Plan that resulted in legally questionable actions.
By formertbm (76), east hampton on May 11, 11 10:35 AM
I really took a look at that house for the first time the other day. THERE IS NO HOUSE BEHIND IT . . . DID MR. MASI TEAR AN OLD, HISTORIC HOUSE DOWN HIMSELF? WILL ACAC TRY TO TELL HIM WHAT KIND OF A HOUSE HE CAN BUILD THERE? Is this the same house THE JITNEY stops RIGHT IN FRONT OF? Is this the same house DIRECTLY ACROSS FROM GANSETT GREEN? Isn't there ANOTHER SHOP further down the road on the other side? On the side of the road this house is on AREN'T THE OTHER "NEIGHBORS" the school and ...more
By Board Watcher (534), East Hampton on May 11, 11 11:59 AM
This house was not spot zoned in 2005. There were three other houses removed from LBO. Check the Comp Plan. Debra Foster is right on this one. There was even talk back then of removing all LBO's because of the residential neighbors. I still cannot help but wonder why this one house now. Give them all back their LBO's. They are going to ask for it if this goes through.
Who does this guy know?
By housewife (79), east hampton on May 12, 11 9:23 AM
Where are those three houses? In Amagansett? The house next to Baker House is LBO and on the east side sits St. Peter's, across the street is Gansett Green and other businesses. I can't identified another house close to Baker that had its LBO designation removed. So maybe they spot zoned four house in various locations.
By formertbm (76), east hampton on May 14, 11 9:45 PM