Though an endorsement in these pages would appear to be unnecessary, East Hampton Village’s plan to create a timber-framed structure historic designation is a worthy concept. The measure appears headed for approval, perhaps as early as tomorrow’s meeting.
The village already has a historic district, which controls certain exterior changes on some properties. The new program would protect important buildings outside the district from destruction and major alterations. In exchange, it would promise owners incentives in the form of “bonuses” that would allow them to build larger accessory structures than would ordinarily be allowed on the same properties.
According to Robert Hefner, who helped prepare the proposed law as director of historic services for the village, the measure would make it the first municipality in New York State to couple preservation with such a sweetener. The deal is a worthwhile concession. There might be circumstances in the future, however, when such arrangements would be impossible; in those circumstances, the village should not consider itself required to offer other trade-offs.
Much of the charm of the village, not to overlook its apparently ever-swelling real estate values, is wrapped up in its appearance, particularly in the green that runs from Town Pond to Buell Lane lined by ancient houses. Some are said to date to the late 17th century and are already in the historic district. The new designation would extend protection of 25 other structures’ rare character and should be approved.
East Hampton Town is another story. It has let its enforcement of historic-district rules wither, and no new preservation measures appear in the offing. We hope Town Hall is watching Village Hall’s fine example.