Representing the owners of Balasses House, who have applied to change the classification of the Amagansett antiques shop and gallery from limited business overlay to central business, allowing a broader use that he called “general retail,” Rick Whalen, an attorney, sought the support of the Amagansett Citizens Advisory Committee on Monday night.
The building, at the corner of Main Street and Hedges Lane, is in the heart of the hamlet’s business district, Mr. Whalen pointed out, opposite the Amagansett Square complex and across from the stores on the north side of the street. It is in a residential half-acre zone, but has been used commercially, he said, since “at least the ’70s.”
General retail, Mr. Whalen explained, includes both “dry and wet retail,” “wet” meaning uses such as a grocery store or deli and “dry” referring to, for example, a clothing store or a bank. A restaurant, he said in answer to a question, would not be an allowable use.
The building’s coverage is now 5,000 square feet, which could be doubled under the central business classification. Two separate uses are permitted on a commercial lot.
“They are looking to enhance the value of the property,” said Kieran Brew, the committee’s chairman, who is a real estate broker. The property, which is in the hamlet’s historic district, was said to be for sale for $2.65 million.
The East Hampton Town Board scheduled a hearing on the proposal for Dec. 19, the same night it will hold two hearings, expected to be contentious, on the controversial 555 senior citizen project in Amagansett. The advisory committee’s discussion of that project is reported elsewhere in this issue.
Jeanne Frankl, a member of the committee, said the Balasses House proposal ought not to have been included with the other two. “At a hearing that takes up a matter of profound seriousness to us, this hearing has been sandwiched in. It isn’t right. It isn’t fair. They should postpone it.”
Mr. Whalen said he had had “no idea” that it would be scheduled on that night.
There is apparently some confusion with the application. “There was delay, delay, from the Building Department” before it issued a new certificate of occupancy granting limited commercial use in September, said Councilwoman Sylvia Overby, the committee’s town board liaison. “I’d like to get a correct planning memo, based on the new C of O, before the town board makes any decision,” she said. “That may delay it again.”
“None of us is saying, if they postpone it we’ll go for it,” Mr. Brew told Mr. Whalen.