For some time, we have observed that the East Hampton Village Zoning Board of Appeals operates in what seems to be a universe unto itself. It meets just once a month and has a long practice of allowing public hearings on individual applications to drag on interminably. This is in dramatic contrast to the town zoning board, where hearings rarely are carried over to another meeting, and then generally for a limited purpose, such as a response to a specific question.
A case in point at the moment is a request from an oceanfront property owner, who in January had a first hearing at the village zoning board on a request to remove an existing house and replace it with a larger one. Instead of closing the hearing and rendering a decision, the board left the issue open to horse-trading for more than six months before the applicant finally gave up.
This was not fair to the property owner, or more important perhaps, to the public, for whom attending meetings with the idea of influencing an outcome — or just keeping tabs on the neighborhood — was made all but impossible. This benefited no one, except perhaps the applicant’s attorneys and hired representatives.
Extending hearings over months, or even beyond a year in some cases, makes a mockery of what is supposed to be a public process.