Last week a "Stop 555" page popped up on Facebook. Organizers urge East Hampton voters to sign an online petition in opposition to proposed zoning changes. As of Monday morning, posts reported Close to 500 signatures in opposition to a "last minute raid on our zoning code." The page on change.org lists 417 supporters.
Stop 555 created a video using the vimeo website. It features former town councilwoman Deb Foster speaking out against "the latest attack on our Comprehensive Plan," the project known as 555 Amagansett. If approved, it would be comprised of luxury condos for senior citizens on approximately 24 acres on Montauk Highway in Amagansett (the former Principi property).
During its November 7 meeting the town board's Republican majority voted to hold two public hearings related to the 555 project. The first hearing was on a change to the town zoning code to create a new Senior Housing Overlay District zoning designation. The second hearing would convey the designation to the 555 property, a step necessary to its final approval. Both are scheduled to be held on December 19, the last formal meeting of the Wilkinson administration.
Members of the board's Democratic minority, Sylvia Overby and Peter Van Scoyoc, rebuked their colleagues Bill Wilkinson, Theresa Quigley and Dominick Stanzione for attempting to rush through legislation that had been written by the developer's attorney. Opponents who authored the petition express the concern that the board may vote to enact both pieces of legislation right after the hearing this month.
As opponents attempt to rally compatriots, developers of the site, the Connecticut-based firm Putnam Bridge, have launched an advertising campaign. In the opponent's video, Foster says the plan would result in more dense development than any other zone currently in existence in town. The ads refute the assertion, claiming the "market rate" senior housing, with fewer than two people per unit, would result in less dense development.
Calling upon community members to "be progressive," the developers note, "We have approached this project with the utmost respect for the community and its needs."
Supervisor-elect Larry Cantwell, a Democrat, has already stated he opposes that zone change to enable the 555 project, as well as two others that will be the subject of hearings on December 19.
That night hearings will be held on requests to downzone a Main Street Amagansett property from residential with a limited business overlay to the commercial business designation and to remove the agricultural overlay district from a four-lot parcel on Cedar Street in East Hampton.
The petition predicts "more intense commercial uses" should the Amagansett proposal go through. The second, according to the petition, would "override" existing law protecting agricultural soils and add more houses than are currently allowed.