Debate Parking Rules, Noise

       With hearings on new restrictions on parking in East Hampton Village municipal lots and on the commercial use of landscaping equipment scheduled for the village board’s meeting on Friday, March 21, the board considered both topics at its work session last Thursday.

       The hearings will be held at 11 a.m. at the Emergency Services Building.

       The board has heard from people for and against year-round two-hour parking restrictions in the village lots off Main Street, Newtown Lane, and North Main Street, Mayor Paul F. Rickenbach Jr. said. Under current law, the two-hour limit is in effect from May 1 through Nov. 30 from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Last Thursday, board members seemed to be backing away from the proposed year-round restrictions.

       Barbara Borsack asked about the feasibility of putting the two-hour restriction in place on weekends from January through March. “It seems to me that the weekends are the problem,” she said.

       Capt. Michael Tracey of the Village Police Department said such a scheme would be easy to implement, as would adding only April and December to the restricted period, another idea that has been discussed.

       “I think it’s a viable option,” said Elbert Edwards. But, he added, employees of village businesses must still be encouraged to park at the far end of the lots to allow customers the ability to park near stores. “The day before yesterday, I saw some of the people who wrote letters saying employees should be parked out in the parking lot [parked] right in front of the stores.” Ms. Borsack suggested asking the East Hampton Chamber of Commerce to send a notice to businesses with that encouragement.

       Adding April and December, and weekends from January through March, to the two-hour period “would certainly help,” Captain Tracey said. “The two options that we are endorsing, if that’s what you’d like, would be including April and December as phase one, and if you wanted to go beyond that, adding weekends in January, February, and March.”

       “Then we’re accommodating the workers, to allow them to park closer in the bad weather,” Ms. Borsack said. “If we find that it’s still a problem, we can always expand it later.”

       Mayor Rickenbach suggested that weekends include Friday through Sunday and federal holidays.

       As for the added restrictions on gas and diesel-powered landscape equipment, the village board has invited representatives of landscaping companies that have implored them not to ban the tools of their trade to attend and comment at next Friday’s hearing.

       The board has proposed limiting use of such equipment between April 1 and the second Friday in December, as opposed to the current May 1 through Nov. 30 restrictions. Under the revised rules, commercial operators could only use the noisy lawn and landscape equipment between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. on Saturday. Current law allows the equipment from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. weekdays and from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturdays.

       Although the restrictions would also be extended farther into the year for homeowners and tenants, the times that they could use the equipment would remain as is: from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. weekdays, from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturdays, and from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sundays and federal holidays.

       Board members last Thursday referred to correspondence received from Rich Sperber, who owns a landscaping company in East Hampton, and Joe Morgano of Power Equipment Plus, an East Hampton dealer of landscaping equipment. “We really did not have a landscaper in on the discussion,” Ms. Borsack said. “Maybe we should have a meeting with someone like that as part of the conversation.”

       Mr. Morgano, Mr. Lawler said, had sent literature detailing leaf blowers that are designed to produce less noise. For example, the Stihl BR 500, according to its manufacturer, is “a quiet, yet powerful backpack blower for professionals working in noise-sensitive areas.”

       Mr. Lawler said that when the board is considering “local ordinances that may have an adverse effect on the local business community,” Mr. Lawler said, “I would feel a whole lot better if we had some input from [landscapers] before we go changing our code,” Mr. Lawler said.

       The board continued to debate a further restriction of the times in which commercial use of gas or diesel-powered lawn care equipment would be allowed,  but resolved to hear from landscapers before acting.

       Ms. Borsack said that the board could enact further restrictions while also making some kind of concession to landscapers. Bruce Siska suggested that allowing landscapers to replace old equipment at the end of its lifespan with new, lower-decibel models could be such a concession.

       The legislation under consideration would also limit the hours when excavation, demolition, and construction would be allowed between May 15 and Sept. 15. Anyone other than a homeowner or tenant would be allowed to do that work only between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. on weekdays and between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. on Saturdays. Current law allows work to go on from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on weekdays and from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays.

       Also at the meeting, the board accepted the $71,900 bid received from Johnson Electric to install a lighted crosswalk on Newtown Lane. The village received a $37,000 grant from the Suffolk County Legislature for the project, said Becky Molinaro, the village administrator.