September 06, 2006

Opinion On LBO MIA

Several years ago during discussion of the update to East Hampton Town's Comprehensive Plan, the town's Limited Business Overlay district was the subject of no small measure of public concern. It was originally devised to allow those with large homes along Montauk Highway and in other sections of town to accommodate low volume, low intensity businesses, but community members at the time felt some property owners had violated the spirit of the law, and that there should be more clear regulations relating to LBO properties. Some even felt the zoning district should be done away with altogether; it was so fraught with misinterpretation and misuse.

But none of those who weighed in so passionately during those months showed up last Friday to speak to the proposed revisions to the LBO law. Only attorney Richard Whalen took the podium during the hearing. And his comments were directed towards the town's manner of publishing public notices. He complained that failing to publish proposed laws in their entirety is against state law. Carole Brennan of the town clerk's office told The Independent that the notices are published the same way as they were back when Whalen served in the town attorney's office.

According to Denise Schoen of the town attorney's office, the revision is "very fluid." It gives the town planning board and the zoning board of appeals discretion regarding parking restrictions and sets appearance standards for new structures. Currently the amount of space in a home that can be devoted to business in the LBO district is unlimited, she said. The proposal sets a 2000 square foot ceiling. The new criteria are designed to allow buildings within the LBO to accommodate businesses while at the same time protecting nearby residential uses, "and the essential residential character of the district and the community as a whole," according to the law's findings section.

Art and antique-related uses are added to allowable businesses under the code change.

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