Okay for Two-House Law

    The owners of historic timber-frame houses in East Hampton Village will get a zoning bonus that will allow them to build or expand second dwellings on their property following the village board’s adoption on Friday of zoning code amendments designed to encourage preservation of those landmark structures.
    The law, after modifications requested by the owners of some of the houses in question were implemented, allows some of the maximum permitted gross floor area allowed in a main house to be allocated to a second dwelling on the same lot in order to preserve the historic integrity of the timber-frame buildings. A related law, also adopted, provides for criteria and guidelines for the design review board’s review of an application for a second house on a property that includes a designated a timber-frame landmark.
    Later in the meeting, the board continued a discussion on a separate zoning code amendment that would repeal a limited exception allowing a second house on a lot large enough to be subdivided, provided the second house was for “domestic employees or members of the household of the occupant of the single family residence.”
    The board’s original proposal would have deleted the section of the code allowing a second house when the above conditions were met, said Larry Cantwell, the village administrator. An amended version of the law discussed Friday “specifically excludes any property for which a zoning determination has been made prior to the adoption of this.”
    The application that sparked the code revision — John and Suzanne Cartier’s plan to move their existing house to the rear of the property at 105 Main Street, add 182 square feet to it, and build a second house of similar size — would then be exempt from the code change.
    “This amended version was not acted upon,” Mr. Cantwell said, “but could be at the next board meeting. The board is going to change the law so that in the future two houses on one lot won’t be able to be created, as the Z.B.A. is allowing to happen in this case.”
    Last year, the Cartiers applied to the zoning board for variances to carry out their plan, but the zoning board, after four months of review, determined the variances were unnecessary because the proposed houses would both conform to zoning code requirements if the property were divided in two.
    The village board has since tried to stop the Cartiers’ development plans, claiming that a scenic easement granted to the village in 1975 prohibits construction of the second house. Last month, the village sought a temporary restraining order to prevent the Cartiers from proceeding with construction. That was denied in court.
    The village, said Mr. Cantwell, will continue to pursue enforcement of the scenic easement, but sees that as “a separate issue,” he said. “From the board’s perspective, it’s the scenic easement that is in court.”