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Dec 8, 2009 11:58 AMPublication: The East Hampton Press

A plan to beef up historic regulations in Amagansett

Dec 8, 2009 11:58 AM

Amagansett residents have been lobbying East Hampton Town for more stringent review of changes to historical houses in their hamlet, but a proposed change to the town’s architectural review laws was stalled after a public hearing on November 20 because of concern from residents elsewhere in town that it should apply to their neighborhoods as well.

The amendment to the town code hinges on the replacement of a single word in the town’s architectural review guidelines for the Amagansett Historic District.

In the section of the zoning code covering demolition, instead of reading that “no building or structure or portion thereof that makes an important contribution to the district should be demolished,” the code would have been changed to read “shall” be demolished, adding teeth to a regulation that had long read like a simple guideline.

The regulation only covers significant buildings in the Amagansett Historic District, despite the fact that there is also a historic district in Springs.

The proposed change came about after the controversial demolition of the 1808 Isaac Barnes House on Indian Wells Highway in 2008 and the reconstruction of the Mill Garth Inn, now known as the Reform Club, by a corporation with ties to Cleveland Browns owner Randy Lerner. Mr. Lerner owns many Amagansett properties and has come under fire again this year for changes made to the building that this summer opened as the restaurant Mezzaluna Amg without Planning Board review. That restaurant recently closed.

Though the change in the code seems minor on its face, members of the Springs Citizens Advisory Committee urged the Town Board in late November to consider also changing the section of the code that is relevant to Springs.

“The code should be uniform from one historic district to another,” said attorney Tina Piette. “Does Springs have a different standard, then?”

“I’m not sure if the Springs legislation reads the same way,” said Town Attorney John Jilnicki.

“The criteria might be confusing to people who live in historic districts in a house that isn’t historic,” said Ms. Piette, who added that CACs throughout the town should have a chance to weigh in on the change before it is adopted.

“This clearly has to go back to the drawing board. It should be examined town-wide,” said Town Board member Pat Mansir.

Though the board has not yet resumed discussions, Town Crier Hugh King said last Friday that he hopes the incoming board in January continues to strengthen rules for historic districts.

“I applaud you doing this. Thank you. Leave a note for the next group that is going to be here,” he said.

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This clearly has to go back to the drawing board.....It 'shall' be examined town-wide (you mean).

By nellie (451), charleston on Dec 11, 09 3:22 AM
Oh that's great. Use Randy Lerner as an example of what we don't want to happen to our town....He spends millions of dollars making this place better. He employs hundreds of local people to tear down ugly, run down old buildings and turn them into beautiiful new stores and restaurants. Amagansettt Square is a great space. We went to a little concert there and had dinner afterwards and it was the first time I ever really enjoyed Amagansett. Yes, lets stop that!
By private (27), sag harbor on Dec 14, 09 6:18 AM
randy lerner the only man who can tear out a town sidewalk and plant grass and trees in its place and nothing happens.money talks.
By asurest (117), easthampton on Dec 14, 09 6:50 PM
I don't want this to be posted but it is scary when Beth Young and the Editor of this paper - who may or may not push or condone such writings - publish "stories" so to speak, just for the fun of it, it seems. In this article, it is written that "The proposed change came about after the controversial demolition of the 1808 Isaac Barnes House on Indian Wells Highway in 2008 and the reconstruction of the Mill Garth Inn, now known as the Reform Club, by a corporation with ties to Cleveland Browns ...more
By Board Watcher (534), East Hampton on Dec 28, 09 12:28 AM