In an effort to give code enforcement officers a better basis to cite those flouting the law, proposed changes to the East Hampton Town code would address businesses illegally operating in residential zones by clarifying the type of trucks and equipment that may be parked at houses.
Discussion of just what to do and what the impact will be of cracking down on the proliferation of home-based businesses in contracting, landscaping, and other trades has spanned two town administrations. Councilman Fred Overton is the most recent town board member to lead the effort, and has attempted to draft a law that would provide the “teeth” to act against those who have turned their residential lots into full-fledged commercial sites, but would not unfairly impact a sole proprietor who, for instance, drives a work truck back to his or her residence at night.
Residents of Springs, in particular, have complained to town officials about the number of large trucks, box vans, equipment trailers, and the like parked at a number of properties, the impact of commercially-used vehicles coming and going in their neighborhoods, and, in some cases, work continually taking place in yards turned into places of business. In one case, a videotape was made of carpenters working outdoors with power tools at what a neighbor claims is a de facto workplace.
Patrick Gunn, a former town attorney and head of the town’s public safety division, had urged the board for several years to codify a definition of the term “light truck,” used in the code to differentiate between the type of personal or work vehicle that is allowed in neighborhoods and larger, commercially-used equipment that indicates a business operating from a house.
Concerns were expressed by business-oriented members of the previous Wilkinson administration about a lack of commercial property in the town for those who might be displaced should the town enforce a prohibition already on the books about commercial activity in residential zones.
Under the current proposal, to be the subject of a public hearing at Town Hall at 6:30 p.m. next Thursday, “light truck” and “pickup truck” would be defined, and limits placed on the storage of commercial machinery and heavy equipment on residential lots.
A light truck would be defined as a commercially registered vehicle with a gross vehicle weight rating of 12,0000 pounds or less. A pickup truck would be defined as a “light duty truck” with an enclosed cab and a bed no more than 9 feet long, 6 feet wide, and 25 inches tall.
Up to two commercially registered cars or light trucks, used by an occupant of the residence, could be regularly parked on a residential site.
“Commercial machinery” or heavy equipment for construction, excavation, or landscape work would be prohibited, as would the storage of materials “used in connection with a commercial operation” that takes place off of the site. No trailers more than 18 feet, or weighing more than 1,000 pounds, would be allowed.
In addition, storage of more than one unregistered vehicle for more than one year would be prohibited.
Also next Thursday night, hearings will be held on banning alcohol on Indian Wells Beach in Amagansett within 1,000 feet of the road end during lifeguarded hours on Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays; on the acceptance of scenic and conservation and agricultural easements on various parcels of land; on the addition of land to the community preservation project plan, and on designating the town-owned Brooks-Park property in Springs a historic landmark, which is reported on separately in today’s Star.