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Mar 6, 2012 4:19 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press

Around East Hampton Town Hall: Town Board Considers Amending Town Code To Allow Bedrooms In Basements

Mar 6, 2012 4:37 PM

East Hampton Town hasn’t been complying with a New York State building code that allows people to create bedrooms in their basements, Town Board members discovered at a work session on Tuesday.

Town officials are trying to figure out how to address the discrepancy. The solution could be to amend Town Code or to ask the state to allow East Hampton Town to continue enforcing its more stringent code, which prohibits bedrooms in basements and cellars. Board members learned on Tuesday that the Town Code doesn’t differentiate between a cellar and a basement.

Councilwoman Theresa Quigley said she was in favor of revising the code to allow residents to create basement bedrooms. She argued that it was a safety issue and that people are putting bedrooms in basement apartments anyway. At the very least, she said they should be properly planned, with the right egress and ingress.

But Councilman Peter Van Scoyoc said he was concerned about what the code amendment could mean for density in certain parts of town such as Springs where illegal overcrowding is a large concern. “You’re opening a whole big can of worms,” he said.

Board members decided to ask department heads to come back with recommendations on how to proceed on the issue.

Outdoor Gatherings

Ms. Quigley and Supervisor Bill Wilkinson have been working on a number of measures to control outdoor population at nightclubs and restaurants in town.

The two are looking at an ordinance that would restrict the number of people allowed to gather outside an establishment to one person per seven square feet. They are also considering another law that would limit the number of people allowed to be at a business based on its septic capabilities. Businesses that have old septic systems grandfathered in before Town Code would be given a certain grace period to update their systems, Ms. Quigley said.

Ultimately, Mr. Wilkinson and Ms. Quigley said they’d like to create legislation that would allow the town to seek an injunction against a business if it didn’t comply with the code. The injunction would be based on the claim that the business poses a health issue because of the number of people on site versus its septic capabilities.

Both Councilwoman Sylvia Overby and Mr. Van Scoyoc expressed concern that allowing a business to upgrade its septic system to accommodate its patrons could lead to an eventual expansion of use.

Mr. Wilkinson and Ms. Quigley said they’d like to get the legislation limiting the number of people per square footage on the books before the summer season starts this year.

Split Over Sale

Board members were split along party lines on the sale of a town alleyway to the owners of the Ronjo Motel in Montauk for $35,000.

Town officials recently discovered that a town-owned alleyway intercepts a pool at the Ronjo Motel site. The owners sought to purchase it from the town and Mr. Wilkinson said he decided to set the price at $35,000.

When Mr. Van Scoyoc and Ms. Overby asked where he got the figure for the sale and whether it was fair market value, Mr. Wilkinson said he set the number on his own.

“I came up with the number,” Mr. Wilkinson said. “I plucked it out of the air. Apparently, the new owners are okay with that number. And I would like to move this resolution so that the town can have those funds as soon as possible.”

Ms. Overby said she wanted an appraisal of the alleyway. Mr. Van Scoyoc said he was concerned about how the number was arrived at. “I’m a little concerned about how we arrived at what fair market value is and how that decision gets made,” he said.

Artists-Veterans Truce

Veterans and artists in Montauk have agreed to share the hamlet’s green on Memorial Day weekend this year.

The veterans, who belong to the Montauk Memorial Committee, will use part of the space for two to three hours on Sunday, which is the day of their parade. The Montauk Artists’ Association will be hosting an art show on the green during the weekend.

The parade will begin at noon and run from west to east, said Ken Walles a member of the committee. It will turn left by the Montauk Clothing Co. and enter the green. Veterans will be delivering speeches on the green, he said.

Rosa Hanna Scott, the president of the association, thanked Town Board members for helping facilitate a compromise at a meeting last week. Councilman Dominick Stanzione was the lead on the issue.

Mr. Walles said that while the veterans aren’t all pleased with the compromise, he hopes the group’s relationship with the Town Board in future years will be better.

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Been there, done that already!
The question of whether to permit construction of bedrooms in basements (and cellars), under any circumstances, in the Town of East Hampton was fully considered by the Town Board in 2004. The Board plainly said “No.”
LOCAL LAW NO. 36 OF 2004
A public hearing was held December 16, 2004 regarding amending Chapter 255 ("Zoning") to combine the definitions of “basement” and “cellar” and more clearly detail the location ...more
By davbud (127), east hampton on Mar 6, 12 11:30 PM
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