Now, New Restrictions

Responding to a spate of applications before the East Hampton Village Zoning Board of Appeals involving outsized accessory structures that some homeowners have labeled garages, the East Hampton Village Board introduced an amendment to its code last Thursday that would tighten the definition of a garage to a structure designed or used for, and accessible to, motor vehicles.

The board also voted unanimously for new restrictions on parking in the business district and on noise generated by construction and landscaping activity. The subject of lengthy hearings, which drew heavy commentary from merchants and those in the trades, restrictions on both were tightened, although not to the degree originally proposed.

Garages are the only accessory structures that can be larger than 250 square feet. Their definition was brought into play in January, when the owner of 174 Further Lane sought permission from the zoning board of appeals to construct a 3,600-square-foot accessory building that would have a squash court, a pool house, an unenclosed walk-through corridor, and multiple storage areas, in addition to room for three cars. The zoning board denied the request and has looked skeptically on other applications in which a purported garage would have multiple rooms and uses.

The proposed amendment to the code acknowledges that many garages in the village have “evolved” into living areas. A previous amendment had narrowed the definition  to preclude the commercial use of garages on residential property. Some residents apparently interpreted that as permitting recreation rooms, studios, or game rooms in garages. The proposed amendment would rule that out, while allowing storage of bicycles, outdoor furniture, and yard equipment. With no public comment, the hearing was closed.

As for construction and landscaping noise, the board, which had proposed a 9 a.m. start on weekdays between June 1 and Sept. 15, agreed to the demand that the start time remain at 7 a.m. Such work will have to end by 6 p.m. on weekdays, though, instead of 8 p.m. Construction will be permitted between 8 a.m. and 3 p.m. on Saturdays, and is prohibited on Sunday during the same months. Homeowners or tenants will be allowed to do construction and repair between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m. on weekdays, and between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. on weekends during the same dates. The board also prohibited the use of radios and other amplified equipment by commercial construction crews.

Commercial use of gas or diesel-powered lawn equipment, such as leaf blowers, lawnmowers, and trimmers, will be limited to the hours between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. on weekdays and 8 a.m. and 3 p.m. on Saturdays during the period from June 1 to the second Friday in December. It will be prohibited on Sundays and federal holidays during those dates.

Previously, commercial use of this equipment was permitted between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m. on weekdays between May 1 and Nov. 30. The end of restrictions was changed to coincide with the conclusion of the village’s leaf pickup service. The village itself, as well as the Maidstone Club, are exempted from the restrictions.

As for restrictions in the Robert G. Reutershan and Barns Schenck parking lots, a two-hour limit will remain in effect between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. from May 1 through Dec. 31. A two-hour limit will be applied on Fridays, Saturdays, and federal holidays between Jan. 1 and April 30, as many merchants had asked. Parking will be limited to one hour between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. from May 1 through Dec. 31 in the lot behind the Chase Bank on Main Street, although bank employees will be exempt from the restriction.

 The laws will take effect upon filing with the State Department of State. Becky Molinaro, the village administrator, said in an email that would take two to three weeks.