The Southampton Fire District last week won a small victory toward being able to build a new firehouse in North Sea should it someday take control of the Southampton Fire Department—a contentious idea in firefighter circles—when the Southampton Town Zoning Board of Appeals ruled that it is exempt from town zoning regulations regarding the building’s proposed height.
Board members Herb Phillips, Adam Grossman, Ann Nowak, Keith Tuthill, Denise O’Brien and David Reilly voted in favor of the district’s plan last Thursday, January 17, while Brian DeSesa was absent.
The board determined that the district does not have to apply for a variance from Town Code regarding a 32-foot-tall height restriction for the proposed firehouse. The district’s plans call for a 44-foot-tall building ridge and a 60-foot-tall tower.
“The effect the zoning restrictions would have on the firehouse would limit and constrain the district’s ability to provide fire protection services,” the board wrote in its decision. “This board finds that firehouses serve a vital public purpose by allowing fire districts to protect people and property and should not be unreasonably constrained by this provision of the Town Code.”
Two neighbors of the proposed firehouse objected to its construction during a public hearing last month, citing aesthetics.
The district must now seek Town Planning Board approval for plans to build a two-story 18,685-square-foot building on its 1.965-acre lot at 401 North Sea Road, a vacant parcel it bought for about $1.7 million in 2009.
District officials have said they have no immediate plans to actually build the firehouse, but want the project approved and shovel ready in case efforts to absorb the Southampton Fire Department advance.