East Hampton Town passed legislation this month designating 13 centuries-old homes as historic landmarks, protecting them from demolition and giving their owners the right to build a second residence on their property as compensation.
The Town Board unanimously adopted the designating legislation at its December 7 meeting, after dropping two homes from the original 15 recommended for preservation because their owners balked at the restrictions it would place on them.
The 13 homes that will be designated historic landmarks will now be legally protected from demolition or substantial alteration or relocation. Their owners, current or future, will be given the right to build a second residence on the property—something otherwise prohibited by zoning codes—as long as the total square footage of the combined structures conforms to the allowable development envelopes for the property. In some cases, the allowance would still leave room for houses of more than 10,000 square feet to be built.
The legislation was modeled after similar designations imposed by East Hampton Village on two dozen of its most historic residential structures. The list of homes to be landmarked in the town was compiled by historian Robert Hefner and includes structures dating back as far as three centuries that are particularly ripe for demolition because the properties they sit on are large and could be redeveloped with much larger homes.
When initially proposed, the legislation was met with some resistance. Two homeowners objected and Mr. Hefner, after meeting with them, recommended that their homes be removed from the list. Other homeowners voiced concerns, but after discussions with some, Town Board members said they believe that the landmarking now has the support of those property owners.
Councilwoman Sylvia Overby said earlier this month that she'd spoken to one of the owners of a home that would be landmarked, John Nealon, who had expressed some skepticism. She said that Mr. Nealon had indicated support for having his house, which his family has owned for some three centuries, included in the legislation.
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