The future of East Hampton Town’s individual hamlets can best be addressed by the residents appointed to the citizens advisory committees for the each of them, Councilwoman Theresa Quigley suggested at a board meeting on Tuesday.
Ms. Quigley said that the board should authorize the members of the advisory committees, appointed by the town board for each distinct hamlet within the town and charged with serving as liaisons between the community and elected officials, to create the hamlet studies that are called for in the town comprehensive plan.
The plan envisioned future hamlet studies to hone in on the specific planning issues relevant to each hamlet. “As far as I’m concerned the people within a hamlet know best what that hamlet study should focus on,” Ms. Quigley said.
Such studies normally include a gathering of data regarding land use, zoning, existing and potential development, traffic, environmental factors, and town laws and adopted plans pertaining to the area, and have been conducted by planning professionals, either town Planning Department staff or hired consultants.
Ms. Quigley has repeatedly taken the stance that the Planning Department is too bogged down with other tasks to complete long-term planning efforts, and has, with Supervisor Bill Wilkinson, pressed for reorganizing the Planning and Natural Resources Departments.
Councilman Dominick Stanzione asked at the meeting on Tuesday if the town board would provide money for the advisory committees to complete the studies. Ms. Quigley said funding would not be needed. “It’s sitting down and talking,” she said. For instance, she said, the Wainscott Citizens Advisory Committee, which has been calling on the town board to complete a Wainscott hamlet study, has been talking about the area at the entrance to Wainscott. “They come up with thoughts; they bring those thoughts to the town board,” Ms. Quigley said. If the group feels the need to consult with professionals such as the town engineer, or police — to get information about traffic, for example — it can seek permission to do so from the town board, through the councilperson assigned as its liaison.
Mr. Stanzione said he would agree with the idea, “to the extent that the advisory function of the C.A.C. could inform future hamlet studies.”
Ms. Quigley said that the advisory committees could provide the board with “a general picture. What do we as a hamlet want to see? They sit down and talk about it, and they come up with a proposal. And they bring up that proposal to the town board.” It’s “a focus as to where the hamlet wants to land,” Ms. Quigley said.
But Councilwoman Sylvia Overby said the usual process of a hamlet planning study includes a wider segment of the community, allowing people to participate in group discussions highlighting the various aspects of comprehensive planning, such as transportation, or development. And, she said, “Personally I think it’s very difficult to have a hamlet study without the Planning Department.”
“Whatever the formula was before doesn’t have to be followed,” Ms. Quigley said. And, she added, “I think that the Planning Department would get involved,” after the citizens’ groups present concepts to the town board.
Presenting issues to the town board “. . . is what C.A.C.s do,” said Ms. Overby.
“I’m looking for the studies that are proposed within the [town] comprehensive plan [to be done by the C.A.C.s],” Ms. Quigley said. The town board, she said, could tell the groups “these are the questions that are supposed to be looked at.”
“Why can’t we use these things as the focus” of the advisory groups’ meetings, she asked. “Whatever. It’s an idea. Whatever,” she said.
Perhaps, she suggested, the Wainscott group could be told to go ahead and do its own hamlet study. And, Ms. Quigley said, “if any other C.A.C. is interested in doing it, I have no problem with it.”