A roomful of people, including East Hampton Town Supervisor Bill Wilkinson and Theresa Quigley, a town board member, listened on Friday as the East Hampton Village Board voted to reduce the allowable size of real estate and contractor signs from 7 square feet to 18 by 18 inches.
Local brokers and builders have until at least June 1 to roll out the smaller size, and also to post them parallel to properties, instead of perpendicular.
A few people at Friday’s meeting spoke against the sign shrinkage and the new placement, including Margaret Turner, executive director of the East Hampton Business Alliance, who felt that signs parallel to the property “could create a safety issue, as people stop in the roadway to read the signs.”
Kathy Cunningham, director of the East Hampton Village Preservation Society, supported the smaller sign law, calling the many signs “a visual blight” on the East Hampton landscape.
However, she was against the parallel, one-sided signs, also citing the safety issue.
The board passed the law as written.
A new law to have stairwells and ceilings over 15 feet high counted twice toward a property’s gross floor area was also the subject of a hearing on Friday. Ms. Turner spoke on behalf of the Business Alliance again, citing concerns about pre-existing properties.
“If this will retroactively apply, some properties will become nonconforming, and this is unfair,” she said. “It’s especially unfair for those who have designed and built since the village’s regulations went into effect in 2004.”
She also brought up “possibly harmful consequences for businesses, which may need to provide more parking.”
“The point is to have a discussion today,” Mayor Paul F. Rickenbach Jr. said. “We have to sometimes come up with ways to possibly tweak it.”
Andrew Goldstein, chairman of the East Hampton Village Zoning Board of Appeals, spoke in favor of the law. “It is well-founded,” he said. “We’re all for grand staircases, and I don’t think this statute will affect the large properties that will still be able to accommodate those.”
It was on small parcels, he said, when sometimes houses can loom over neighbors, where this proposed law was the most needed.
“People scratch their heads on some of these and come to us and say, ‘How did that get built?’ ” he said. “I urge you to pass this law.” The board did.
A resolution was also approved to allow the village board to pierce the state’s 2-percent cap on property tax levy increases, if necessary. The mayor called the move “preemptive and proactive.”
“We’re not assuming it’s going to happen,” he said. “We just felt we needed that in-house protection.”
East Hampton Library has set a date for a groundbreaking ceremony for its new children’s addition. Shovel will meet dirt on April 14 at 10 a.m.
It’s been a long road to this point. The library went to court in an attempt to overturn an East Hampton Village Zoning Board of Appeals denial of permits and variances for the 6,800-square-foot expansion. Last May, the New York State Supreme Court decided in favor of the library, and a recent appearance in front of the village design review board brought a much-anticipated approval for the final site plan.
Dennis Fabiszak, East Hampton Library’s director, deemed the groundbreaking ceremony a “historic event.”