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Apr 20, 2018 4:42 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press

East Hampton Village Board Votes To Restrict Special Events And Plastic Foam

The East Hampton Village Board. JON WINKLER
Apr 24, 2018 1:34 PM

The East Hampton Village Board adopted two new laws on Friday that add restrictions on special events in the village, and on plastic foam containers used by local businesses.

At its regular meeting, the board voted unanimously to replace a chapter of the village code that addressed mass assemblages with an entirely new chapter dealing with special events. The new law states that any special events in the village—meaning either a party at a residence attended by 50 or more people, or an event at a commercial establishment that is not already an approved use—would require permit approval from Village Administrator Becky Hansen.

More controversial is the fact that the new law denies permits for special events held at least partially outdoors or under a tent on a property with a pre-existing, nonconforming business use in a residential district.

That means businesses including the Hedges Inn and the Maidstone Arms will no longer be allowed to hold outdoor wedding receptions, which have become a significant source of income for the inns located in the James Lane-Main Street portion of the village.

Employees of the inns, as well as parents who paid money to hold wedding receptions at the inns, have spoken out against the new law over the last two months, after neighbors kick-started talks about the need for legislation by complaining that noise from special events was disturbing their peace.

“After due diligence, comment by the public and review with village counsel, we are confident that this legislation will provide the village with a cohesive and codified approach to special events and large gatherings in the village and seeking to ensure that they are done in a safe and appropriate manner which allows enjoyment by the host and their guests and also village residents,” Mayor Paul F. Rickenbach Jr. said after the new law was approved.

Trustee Barbara Borsack noted that “80 to 90 percent” of the new law was already contained in the original code. “People should not be afraid of this,” she said.

Mr. Rickenbach said the newly adopted law would not go into effect until October 1. Ms. Hansen said that if there are any events past that date that don’t fall within the parameters of a certificate of occupancy, they “won’t be permitted.”

She added on Monday that the new law doesn’t ban weddings in locations like the Hedges Inn “specifically,” noting that a wedding or another special event could be held inside these properties as long as it complies with the building’s certificate of occupancy.

Linda Margolin, an attorney who spoke as a representative for the Maidstone Arms Inn during a Village Board meeting in February, said on Monday that the new law is “problematic” and “vague” about the specifics of what can and can’t be held at businesses like the Maidstone. “There are far-reaching consequences that are yet to be seen as of today,” she said.

The other new law amended a chapter of the village code that addresses retail checkout bags. The board voted to add a prohibition against the use of polystyrene containers in restaurants and other businesses.

Inspired by the Village of Patchogue’s polystyrene ban, which was approved in January and goes into effect in September, East Hampton’s new law is meant to reduce the amount of disposed polystyrene, which is hard to recycle and toxic to the environment when broken down.

No one spoke at a public hearing on the proposed law on Friday, although Mr. Rickenbach said that two letters were submitted that opposed the new law.

The Village Board’s approval was unanimous, with Ms. Borsack pointing out a recent article in Newsday that detailed how residents of Suffolk County had recently grown accustomed to the county law charging consumers 5 cents for plastic or paper bags in retail shops, which went into effect in January. “We can see that people can adjust to change,” she said.

Ms. Hansen said on Monday that the polystyrene ban will go into effect 90 days after the village files its ban with the State Department of State, which she said officials plan to do this week. Ms. Hansen estimated that the ban will begin on August 1.

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Why doesn’t the EH Village board just declare the Village a Senior retirement community?
By G (342), Southampton on Apr 20, 18 5:27 PM
1 member liked this comment
Welcome to the land of NO!

SMFH these politicians have no clue.
By Draggerman (955), Southampton on Apr 20, 18 6:39 PM
1 member liked this comment
Well la-di-da to a bunch of self-righteous fossils.
By zeke (40), southampton on Apr 20, 18 6:43 PM
A party with 49 people is okay? Cool! Wait... If it's my party, do I count myself in the total? How would the police know there are 51 people at a house party? Do they show up at every party and count the people?
By deelove (152), Bridgehampton on Apr 21, 18 2:10 AM
In East Hampton, planes aren't allowed to use the Airport and you need to get permission from the Village Government to have a cookout or party at your own home. The very place where the homes are specifically built to entertain 50 or more people who fly out here by private jet or helicopter.
By deelove (152), Bridgehampton on Apr 21, 18 2:27 AM
Does this law cover political fundraisers?
By SlimeAlive (1181), Southampton on Apr 21, 18 6:30 AM
So glad I do not live in EH village. Anti-business, anti-people. Terrible law.
By TrueHamptons (33), Sag Harbor on Apr 23, 18 9:37 AM