A discussion at an East Hampton Town Board meeting on Tuesday centered on how to limit the parking of commercial vehicles and large trucks with equipment at residences.
Under the town code, residents of a house may park their own commercially registered vehicle or “light truck” there. Businesses, “commercial operation[s], or other nonresidential activit[ies]” are generally not permitted in residential zones, with a few limited exceptions.
However, Patrick Gunn, a town attorney and the head of the town’s public safety division, has been telling the board, there is no definition in the code of “light truck,” making it impossible for ordinance enforcement officers to cite those who use their houses as a base for landscaping or other businesses and park large vehicles and other equipment there. The issue has been particularly contentious in Springs.
It has been a topic at a number of recent meetings, and this week Councilman Dominick Stanzione suggested holding a hearing on defining a light truck — which would not be restricted in a residential zone — as one weighing up to 10,000 pounds. Then, he said, based on comments from the public, the board could draft a revision to the town code.
Other board members pressed for further discussion and fine-tuning of the rules before drafting an ordinance to put before the public.
“Ultimately, the most important thing is that we keep businesses from abusing residences and residential property,” said Councilman Peter Van Scoyoc. “At the same time, there are a lot of businesses in this town with sole proprietors and I don’t want to penalize them.”
Supervisor Bill Wilkinson raised a concern about the effect on business owners of limiting their ability to park work vehicles at their residences. “Do we have to at least look at. . . . I mean, where are they going to go?” he asked.
“We don’t want our residential properties to become storage for commercial businesses,” said Mr. Van Scoyoc, noting that provisions of the town zoning code specifically seek to protect residential neighborhoods. Under the code, only a limited number and type of “home occupations” are allowed.
“At a certain level, the expectation is that business is going to have a business site,” he said. “A certain level of operations is not acceptable within a residential neighborhood.” Nonetheless, he said, “I don’t want to penalize a sole proprietor just starting a business.”
Along with commercial trucks, Mr. Van Scoyoc said, the board should discuss commercial trailers used to haul equipment when setting town code definitions.
“Is a ‘vehicle’ a trailer?” asked Councilwoman Sylvia Overby. “Is a ‘vehicle’ a backhoe?”
She suggested allowing one large truck, or commercial vehicle — however the targeted class of vehicles is ultimately defined — to be parked at a residence, mirroring the code in Southampton Town. The Town of Brookhaven, she noted, based on a memo given the board by Mr. Gunn, does not allow any commercial vehicles to be parked on a regular basis in a residential zone.
Board members agreed to discuss the matter at an upcoming work session before drafting a proposed change to the law.