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Dec 11, 2012 5:29 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press

In East Hampton Village, Timber Frame Law Seems A Go

Dec 11, 2012 6:13 PM

East Hampton Village is set to move ahead with a plan to preserve 25 individual buildings as timber-frame landmarks, which would make it the first municipality in New York State to offer a “zoning bonus” to owners of historically designated properties. A public hearing on the proposal ended last Thursday with expressions of support and a tweaking to address suggestions made at an earlier part of the hearing on November 16.

The change to the proposed legislation has to do with the zoning bonus, which is a way to compensate owners of the properties, mostly houses dating from 1700 to 1850, for having to seek approval from the East Hampton Village Design Review Board for all but the most routine alterations. Most of the houses are small, and the bonus will make it easier to create a separate living space on the same property within the parameters of what is normally allowed for a lot of that size. This week the proposed bonus was expanded so that the gross floor area of the second space could not exceed 40 percent of the overall permitted gross floor area, or 3,700 square feet. It was orginally capped at 35 percent, or 3,000 square feet.

Joan Tulp, who East Hampton Village Mayor Paul F. Rickenbach Jr. called the “unofficial mayor of the hamlet of Amagansett,” had praise for the proposal to designate the timber-frame houses as landmarks. In what she called the “here today, gone tomorrow syndrome,” she talked about how a similar law in East Hampton Town might have stopped the sudden demolition of the 1808 Isaac Barnes House on Indian Wells Highway in Amagansett in 2008.

Richard Baxter read a letter from Robert Strada of Peconic Historic Preservation Inc. that argued that Antiquity, the second oldest building in Quogue, could have been preserved had that village adopted legislation like what is proposed in East Hampton. The building was sold recently and disassembled to prevent it from being totally lost; its components now sit in a construction trailer, according to the letter.

Village Administrator Larry Cantwell said after the meeting that the Village Board was likely to adopt the timber frame legislation this month. “It’s nice to get another 25 houses protected,” he said, adding that the village has almost 100 already in historic districts already.

Also at last Thursday’s work session, East Hampton Village Police Chief Gerry Larsen got the okay to donate a surplus police car to the City of Long Beach Police Department, which lost its entire fleet in Hurricane Sandy.

East Hampton Village Ambulance Chief Mary Ellen McGuire was in luck, too, as the Village Board informally agreed to accept a $196,676 bid for a new ambulance complete with climate control for medications and with service backup. The bid was more than the village had budgeted for, but there’s a $10,000 trade-in to deduct, plus the price will go up $15,000 at the end of the year.

“Well, you know it’s Christmas,” the mayor said, “we certainly applaud all the effort and commitment of the ambulance association.”

Finally, Matt Norklun asked the Village Board to consider banning dogs from village beaches, saying the problem they leave behind is particularly acute at Georgica. “The beaches right now are covered in dog poop,” he said. “The beach is not a toilet.”

According to Mr. Norklun, the people allowing their dogs to soil the beach are mostly from New York City, not village residents. Letting a dog out of a car and onto the beach to defecate takes only a few minutes, he said, not enough time to call the police and for them to respond.

“When they see us, of course they behave,” Chief Larsen contributed.

Mr. Norklun asked about writing up civilian complaints, but Village Board member Richard Lawler said the law would not permit Mr. Norklun to cite the dog owners himself.

Mayor Rickenbach jokingly offered to deputize him, but added that the village is reviewing all of its operations on the beaches, and said that “one of the issues is dogs on the beach.”

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