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Mar 23, 2015 4:49 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press

Springs General Store Property To Be Protected With East Hampton Town CPF Money

Mar 24, 2015 2:53 PM

The East Hampton Town Board last week decided to purchase a facade easement on the Springs General Store property with $170,000 of Community Preservation Fund money.

The acquisition will make it possible for the town to protect the building by preventing changes to its historic facade.

The decision comes after the General Store’s manager announced in February that the property, which was listed for just under $2 million, has a mystery buyer. The current owner, Michael Collins, who has owned the property since 1975, said he wants to continue to protect the property after it is sold. He could not say who the mystery buyer is.

“I have to sell the store to buy my family homestead across from Ashawagh Hall. I really did not want to sell the store at all, but it’s very important to preserve what few things we have,” he said on Monday. “The store is very close to my heart. I grew up in that store and I was down there all the time.”

Mr. Collins said his Uncle Dan Miller owned the store when he was younger and kept his airplane behind the Collinses’ house.

Now, the 1.4-acre historic property will have additional restrictions to keep it protected from change, according to Scott Wilson, the town’s director of land acquisition and management.

“Being represented within an historic district affords some protection, but not as specific, restrictive or as enforceable as acquiring additional rights in real property,” he said. “The owner of the store is willing to further restrict the property.”

When a facade easement is created, the owner of a building agrees not to make changes to the facade without confirming that the changes will not compromise its historic value. This easement will remain on the property in perpetuity.

He said that in addition to architectural restrictions, the CPF easement also limits expansion, removing the right to build new structures on the property and to remove structures like the antique gas tanks and shed. The new CPF status also protects the view, he said—any hedging can be no taller than 46 inches, and there cannot be any opaque fencing.

“We’re trying to trap it in amber, basically,” he told the Town Board.

The Springs General Store, which was built in 1884, is one of 10 19th century structures in the Springs Historic District.

“There are any number of iconic historic buildings throughout the town, and we’ve been blessed with those,” Supervisor Larry Cantwell said. “One of the most important in Springs is the Springs General Store. There’s a little something special about being able to do what we’re doing with CPF to preserve this important icon in Springs.”

Town Councilman Fred Overton, who grew up in Springs, said he bought his first tank of gas at the General Store for 25 cents a gallon.

“Everybody knew everybody,” he said about the hamlet in the mid-20th century. “It was good times growing up in Springs.”

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