Bridgehampton CAC Says Regulators Don’t Follow 2004 Hamlet Study

Pamela Harwood, left, tells Southampton Town's Planning & Development Administrator Janice Scherer (right) about a house she considers oversized and an example of the town's failure to follow the recommendation of the 2004 Bridgehampton Hamlet Study. Peter Boody photo

Members of the Bridgehampton Citizens Advisory Committee complained to Southampton Town’s new planning and development administrator on Monday that the town’s land-use regulators have been ignoring the recommendations of the town’s 2004 Bridgehampton Hamlet Study and that a recently enlarged house on Woodland Drive and a development of 7,000-square-foot McMansions on half-acre lots off Lumber Lane are the latest examples of wayward development in the hamlet.

Committee members also argued that the hamlet study is out of date and should be updated but noted that their liaison from the Town Board, Councilman Tommy John Schiavoni, has so far declined to push for a new study because of the cost.

Janice Scherer, a 17-year veteran of the town’s Planning Department who replaced Kyle Collins after he resigned late last year, agreed that there can be a “disconnect” between actual policy and the town’s comprehensive plan, of which the hamlet study is a part. “There are still some big opportunities here to get it right,” she added, and “it has to be done with the community” telling the town “what do you want.”

“We don’t ignore it,” she said of the hamlet study, “but I just had a staff meeting today and I said I think we need to, up front, and every time, write out the policies, the law, just put it out neutrally, because the town board spends so much time debating, and negotiating, and figuring it all out, and adopt a policy — and I think that’s where the disconnect happens.”

She added “there’s mandates, there’s law and then there’s policy, that’s what your elected officials are supposed to dictate and decide and those policies can change but they do have relevance to all these decisions that get made.”

During a long and wide-ranging discussion that touched on controlling the size of houses in relation to their lots, protecting historic houses, and the stalled proposal for a Bridgehampton Historic District — among other topics — Ms. Scherer said her department could submit a budget proposal to the Town Board to fund a new study. The CAC’s chair, Pamela Harwood, said she would send Ms. Scherer minutes of the discussion and schedule a follow up meeting.

Also at the monthly CAC session, which drew only about 10 participants, Ms. Harwood reported that a subcommittee of the CAC had chosen the trees it wants the town to plant to replace the 22 removed in recent years along Main Street in downtown Bridgehampton for sidewalk and power line maintenance and other reasons.

The selection, which has been submitted to Tom Neely, the town’s director of public transportation and traffic safety, included red oaks, hornbeams and red buds, depending on the horizontal and vertical space available at each planting location, Ms. Harwood said. The trees will be delivered by the end of March and planted by contractor Green Velvet of Bay Shore this spring, Ms. Harwood said.

Some of the trees were removed as part of the ongoing state-funded pedestrian safety project that has resulted in new LED streetlights, sidewalks, crosswalks, curb bump-outs and traffic signals in downtown Bridgehampton.

In a related matter, Supervisor Jay Schneiderman last week announced that work to improve safety at three municipal parking lots — at Thayer’s Hardware, opposite the Hampton Library and behind the Candy Kitchen — would begin beginning on Monday, February 24 and take about a week to complete.