Planning Board Could Absorb A.R.B.

    Prompted by a constituent’s frustration over being shuffled between the town’s planning and architectural review boards and a desire to streamline the review process, East Hampton Town Councilwoman Theresa Quigley advocated Tuesday for the planning board’s absorption of the A.R.B.’s duties.
    Although not all town board members were in agreement, the proposal will be subject to further consideration.
    A constituent, whom Ms. Quigley declined a request to name, came to her for guidance. The business owner had been through site plan review with the planning board and believed their approval was final, but later learned they had to go to the A.R.B. and eventually it was proposed that both boards review the project concurrently. Problems are created, Ms. Quigley said, when the applicants go through the process with the planning board only to have their plans changed later by the A.R.B.
    Ms. Quigley said the town attorney’s office had explained to her that the A.R.B. primarily deals with deer fencing. She believes rules could be written into town code to address these matters. The A.R.B. also reviews placement of signs and lighting, but those things, she said, could be dealt with by using a hired consultant when necessary.
    After determining that the A.R.B. costs the town about $36,000 annually plus attorney fees of $18,000, without benefits, she said streamlining the process administratively could also make sense for the budget.
    Councilman Dominick Stanzione urged caution in what could be a hasty decision, noting that the A.R.B.’s discretion has been an important “non-monetary contribution” to the community with its members weighing in on the architectural integrity of large-scale projects.
    Mr. Wilkinson wondered if the planning board could do “that same thing.”
    While recognizing the contributions of the board, Councilman Peter Van Scoyoc, a former member of the planning board, was open to the discussion of streamlining the process, and looking into deer fence laws to see if those applications could be handled administratively.
    The A.R.B.’s expertise is important to the aesthetics of the community, warned Councilwoman Sylvia Overby, also a former planning board member and chairwoman. She explained that the A.R.B. deals with historic district applications, and also with building materials and colors as part of a process that could end up being costly with a consultant. She also believes deer fence decisions should be made by groups in a neighborhood, when possible, to insure passageways for deer, and “so that it makes sense.”
    Mr. Stanzione also expressed concern about deer fencing, which he feels is “proliferating in our community, and neighborly relations.” He said that residents without financial means for a fence are suffering because of those who have them. “I’m not sure at all that deer fencing should be codified . . . to occur without any review,” he said. “Right now it is absolutely a right for everyone in the town,” Ms. Quigley said.
    Ms. Quigley maintained that some of the A.R.B.’s duties could become administrative functions, and at the very least, the code should be changed to make the board advisory only.
    “I am not going to decide on it today,” Ms. Overby said. “It wasn’t even on the agenda.”