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Jan 8, 2019 5:25 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

East Hampton Town May Re-open Montauk Planning Discussions

Lisa Grenci
Jan 8, 2019 5:30 PM

The East Hampton Town Board will consider convening new public hearings on the long-term planning recommendations for Montauk made by consultants in the hamlet studies that the town is considering adopting into the town’s Comprehensive Plan.

After residents of Montauk pleaded with the board at two recent meetings to allow more time for comments from those members of the community who only recently became aware of the three-year-old hamlet studies’ existence, the board said it would reopen the hearings for more public input—while at the same time lamenting the apparent difficulty in making more members of even a tiny community like Montauk aware of what is going on within their hamlet. Board members said they will discuss how to hold more open discussions on the Montauk plan, without holding up the adoption of the studies’ recommendations for other hamlets where the redevelopment recommendations are being eagerly welcomed.

The approach may require a new public hearing to be scheduled and publicized, meaning the new hearings could stretch through the winter and into spring again. Board members said they will make a decision in time for their meeting on Thursday, January 17.

The board closed the hearings in December after holding five well-attended open comment sessions over three months—the last of more than two dozens Town Board meetings at which the studies were discussed and at which public input was welcomed. A vote on adopting the recommendations from the studies into the town’s Comprehensive Plan was expected by early spring.

The Montauk study was by far the most involved of the five studies. The recommendations made by the consultants were most notable for recommending that the town find ways to encourage the abandonment and removal of the major oceanfront hotels in the hamlet’s downtown, as sea levels rise, and that hotels inland be allowed to expand or relocate to new areas of the hamlet where no such development would be allowed today.

The hamlet studies were first unveiled in early 2016 and the first of five sets of three-day work sessions in each hamlet began that spring and continued in the fall. The consultants who conducted the studies then made two public presentations on each of the hamlets and their findings in the spring of 2017 that outlined what they saw as main topics and compiled the comments made at the work sessions and held public comment sessions on each report. Those additional public comments were then again reviewed by the consultants before a second draft of their recommendations for each hamlet was presented to the Town Board last winter and were the subject of discussion by the board and public at several ensuing meetings. New official public hearings were held on each of the studies this past October, November and December and the board will have to hold a final public hearing on the whole package of recommendations to be incorporated into the Comprehensive Plan before voting.

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