When our trustees learn and understand the following simple facts, we will have the Southampton Village government we deserve:
1. The village zoning code does not confer any rights on developers. It merely sets the maximum dimensions of new houses in the village that are permissible.
2. The Building Department is responsible for enforcing the zoning code maximums. Neither the Architectural Review Board nor the Planning Board have anything to do with the village zoning code.
3. There are several New York State laws that trump the village laws and village zoning code. Among these are the two that the ARB and Planning Board members should be most familiar with: SEQRA and State Subdivision Rules. There are other U.S. Supreme Court decisions and New York State laws that the village may not violate.
4. The two rights that applicants for new houses and/or subdivisions have a right to expect from our village boards are: a) a reasonably speedy hearing, and b) a reasonably fair decision, based on all relevant laws, federal, state and village.
5. Other than the two rights mentioned above, the developers and/or owner-applicants have no rights whatsoever, except those that, after public hearings, the ARB and/or Planning Board confers on them.
6. The decision criteria to be used by the ARB are: a) whether the proposed application is in harmony with its existing environment, and b) whether the proposed application is good for the entire community.
7. The decision criteria to be used by the Planning Board are: a) whether the proposed application has any negative impact on the village environment, such as, but not limited to, traffic, use of community facilities because of excessive density, burden on village facilities, destruction or diminution of such community interest, and quality of life concerns such as historic environment or buildings or streets; b) whether the proposed application, in its potentially revised form, will add to the village as a whole, or diminish it; c) whether the application, if granted (with the required changes), will enhance the village quality of life and treasured historic character.
8. Both boards have the jurisdiction and the responsibility to insist on such changes as: a) size of proposed buildings; b) density of subdivision proposed; c) respect for neighboring privacy; d) provision of adequate on-site parking; e) addition of benefits to the community, such as bicycle paths, community tennis, relief from on-street parking by provision of additional on-site parking; and f) essential concerns other than the developer’s or owner’s rights, which are purposely proscribed by state laws.
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One fine body…