Dems Offer Own Farm Plan

    Democratic candidates for East Hampton Town supervisor and town board outlined a proposal to expedite planning board approval for non-permanent farm structures such as hoop buildings and cold frames at a press conference on July 13 at the Amagansett Farmers Market.
    The law would apply only to structures used for the production of food crops, as opposed for tree farms or nurseries.
    The goal of the proposed legislation, according to Zachary Cohen, the Democrats’ supervisor candidate, is “to make the process easier and less expensive for the applicant while still protecting the neighbors.”
    Sylvia Overby and Peter Van Scoyoc, the Democratic candidates for town board, joined him at the press conference.
    “Applicants don’t always know what to submit and board members don’t always know what they have to submit,” added Mr. Van Scoyoc, who is also a member of the town planning board.
    The legislation would designate two types of applications: one for structures less than 1,350 square feet (or .6 percent of the total square footage of the property), and another for structures greater than that. In addition the more rigorous review process applied to larger structures would be triggered for smaller buildings if the “town or county has an ownership interest in the land, in part or whole for farmland preservation” or if “the planning board receives comments from the public opposing an application” that it believes “raise sufficient community and neighbor concerns to warrant a public hearing.”
    In both cases, the proposed structure would need to meet setback requirements. Abuilding permit would also be necessary, as would permits for water and electricity. A formal survey would not be required, although the applicant would need to indicate the location of the proposed structure “on a reasonably accurate map generated by the Planning Department.” 
    Although the smaller structures would not necessitate a public hearing, the application would appear on the planning board agenda and neighbors would be notified. The larger temporary buildings would require a public hearing might require “other submissions based on the complexity of the application and existing conditions,” such as “in cases where the total allowable coverage is reached or exceeded with proposed addition of the temporary structures.”
    In February, Theresa Quigley, a Republican town board member, proposed similar legislation, although her proposed law also included farm stands, which, according to Ms. Overby, “have a lot of other, more complicated issues.” Mr. Van Scoyoc added that unlike the previous legislation, his team’s proposal includes “some land-use review.”
    Reached yesterday for her response to the Democrats’ version of a simplified temporary farm structure law, Ms. Quigley said “my gut reaction is that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.” She explained that she had proposed the legislation in response to requests from local farmers, including Alex Balsam, and that it was still being worked on after input from the public and elected officials of both parties.
    “If the issue is an important one, why is this [duplication] happening? Is the subtext ‘We Democrats are careful and the Republicans aren’t?’ ” she asked.