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Nov 15, 2016 1:36 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Southampton Village May Include Accessory Structures In Permitted Gross Floor Area

Robert Essay and other members of the Southampton Village Planning Commission spoke about changing zoning regulations last week. BY GREG WEHNER
Nov 15, 2016 2:26 PM

New homeowners in Southampton Village soon could find new restrictions on how much of their lots they can develop.

The Southampton Village Board is considering modifying the zoning code with regard to the permitted gross floor area, or GFA, in smaller residential districts, with new plans to include accessory structures like pool houses in the calculations.

Paul Travis, the Village Planning Commission chairman, presented the proposed changes at a Village Board meeting last Thursday, November 10.

“In our view … once you place a structure on a site, it really doesn’t matter whether it’s a house, or a pool house or a garage, or whatever you want to call it—it really has an impact both on the environment and the neighbors,” Mr. Travis said. “Any building that you put on the lot is going to be included in your GFA.”

Currently, accessory buildings like pool houses and detached garages are not included in the permitted gross floor area.

Mr. Travis explained that the changes would primarily affect new homes in smaller residential areas. Lots are being filled to capacity with pool houses, detached garages and other accessory structures, he said.

“Any building that you put on the lot is going to be included in your GFA,” Mr. Travis said. “So you can choose to build whatever you want, but whatever you build counts. So you can build a bigger house and not have your pool house, or you can build a smaller house and have a pool house.

“We’re not telling you what to build—but whatever it is, is included in the total gross floor area, without changing what the gross floor area is,” he added.

The proposed changes would also dictate that at least 65 percent of a lot has to be vegetated with grass, plants and trees that allow water to soak into the root zone. “So that you really have a way to make sure that we keep the green context of the village,” Mr. Travis explained.

Another proposal is that the two side yards account for at least 40 percent of the lot width. “We just sort of created a little more buffer on both sides, as opposed to the buffer which now exists,” Mr. Travis said.

Not all of the members of the Planning Commission were on board with the proposed changes recommended to the Village Board last week. One of them was Edward Simoni, who said he did not think a driveway should be included in lot coverage. If the changes were implemented, he said, he would not be able to build the house he has today.

Marc Chiffert, another member of the Planning Commission, echoed Mr. Simoni’s concerns, saying he had an issue with non-habitable space being counted as habitable space.

“We are trying to respect the fact that our village is somewhat different, but try to begin to limit the impact these houses are having on the neighbors,” Mr. Travis said.

A public hearing on the proposed changes will be held at the next Southampton Village Board meeting, on December 8.

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