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East Hampton hosts hearing on Wainscott building moratorium

East Hampton Town Hall is seen on July

East Hampton Town Hall is seen on July 2, 2012. Credit: Erin Geismar

East Hampton Town residents and officials, speaking at a sparsely attended Town Hall meeting Thursday night, expressed their views on a proposed one-year moratorium on large commercial construction in the Wainscott business district.

The Wainscott Citizens Advisory Committee asked town board members to consider the moratorium so such projects would be prohibited until completion of a yearlong hamlet study that got underway in March.

The goal of the study, being conducted by the Ashfield, Massachusetts-based Dodson & Flinker Inc. consulting firm and East Hampton residents, is to plan the future of the Wainscott, Springs, East Hampton and Amagansett commercial districts and the Montauk downtown and dock areas.

Wainscott advisory committee members have expressed concern that some large new projects might not fit in with the hamlet’s map for the future.

During a moratorium, existing businesses would not be allowed to expand more than 25 percent, and new construction applications would not receive approvals by the planning board until the hamlet study is completed.

Philip Young, who has owned the Wainscott Village Shopping Center for nearly 30 years, said, “I support the moratorium,” calling it “a very good idea.”

Young said he did not think a one-year moratorium would adversely affect businesses.

The moratorium would enable town officials to decide what new businesses should be approved when the hamlet study is completed, Young said.

As things are now, Young said, the streets involved in the business area “are residential yet work well with commercial properties.”

If new large businesses are approved before the completion of the hamlet study, there would be “a drastic change that would affect the whole community,” he said.

East Hampton Town Supervisor Larry Cantwell said before the town board can make a decision on the proposed moratorium the matter would have to be referred to the Suffolk County Planning Commission.

After that is done, “the board will be in the position to consider adoption of a resolution,” Cantwell said.

But Martin Drew, a resident of neighboring Springs, said, “I do not support the moratorium — it seems to be biased in nature.” He said the effort seems to be directed at preventing a proposed car wash from opening in Wainscott.

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