Southampton Village residents will be able to weigh in next week on proposals to limit the height of new homes based on lot size and to set new requirements for off-street parking.
The proposed changes come in the wake of large homes with as many as 9 bedrooms being built on smaller properties, overburdening septic systems and crowding parking on residential streets, among other problems.
A public hearing on the amendments will take place at a Village Board meeting next Thursday at 6 p.m. at Village Hall.
The changes would impose new height restrictions as follows: For lots of less than 20,000 square feet, or about ½ acre, structures could be no more than 30 feet tall; for lots between 20,000 and 40,000 square feet, houses could not be taller than 33 feet; and for lots of 40,000 square feet or more, the maximum height would be 35 feet. The overall maximum height for homes in the village is 35 feet.
The maximum height for flat-roofed houses would be 7 feet less than for pitched-roofed homes, and again be based on lot size.
Also next Thursday, a public hearing will address proposed off-street parking rules for single-family homes. It would change what kinds of rooms are acceptable as bedrooms and also require a minimum off-street parking area for each home.
Village Mayor Mark Epley said it was time to make the changes to the zoning code, as the village has not updated it significantly in more than a decade. He said builders have been incorporating too many bedrooms into homes on smaller lots, resulting in homes that alter the character of their neighborhoods. Those houses are then being used as rentals, bringing in more people than there are parking spots.
“They’re building to try and maximize the number of bedrooms in a structure,” Mr. Epley said. “There are homes around that have maximized the building envelope.”
Since officials introduced the proposed height limits at a June 11 Village Board meeting, some residents and builders have already argued against it, saying they are “taking the art out of architecture,” as Frank Devito, of the construction business Devito & Company, had put it.
Village Zoning Board of Appeals member Gerry Ferrara said at a Village Board meeting last week that the changes would be “taking away people’s property rights in a very big way.”
Mr. Epley, however, said that while he recognizes the importance of the building industry on the East End, the new, larger homes will not only change the aesthetics of Southampton Village, but also decrease the number of affordable homes.
“We have to make some changes or else these small neighborhoods that are, in theory, affordable places, will be turned into homes that will be put on the market for $4 million to $7 million,” he said. “What I would challenge people to do … is to go back and say, ‘Do I have enough parking on-site? And if I don’t have enough parking on-site, if I reduce the size … what happens to that house?’ It can be done. It doesn’t impact property values.”
“I’ve got a developer’s mentality and I’m a big property rights guy, but when I have some lawyers and some architects that are in the field … turn around and say to me, ‘Yeah, we have to do something here,’ I know I’m doing the right thing,” he added.
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