Sagaponack resident John French would like to install a gate...

Sagaponack resident John French would like to install a gate for his driveway, but the village is considering a ban on new installations. Credit: Gordon M. Grant

The modern farmhouse where John French and his wife live is hidden from view at the end of a narrow, 850-foot-long stone driveway in Sagaponack.

Their proximity to nearby Wölffer Estate Vineyard often leads drivers to mistakenly pull into their driveway — then plow over landscaping and sprinklers to reverse toward Sagg Road, French said.

They’ve considered building a driveway gate to ward off the wayward drivers.

But new gates might soon be banned in the tiny Hamptons village, where 2020 census figures show 85% of homes are valued above $1 million.

The board of trustees for the Village of Sagaponack is considering a local law that would prohibit new construction of driveway gates, a proposal that drew a hearty rebuke at a May 10 public hearing from more than a dozen homeowners. They argued gates provide security and privacy while keeping children and pets safe. 

Mayor William Tillotson said later that he proposed the law “to clear the air” on an issue that has surfaced frequently in recent years.

The village’s Architectural & Historic Review Board routinely reviews applications for driveway gates, a sometimes “contentious and time-consuming” process, the mayor said.

Not only can the gates present a barrier for first responders, homes hidden behind gates and hedges can create a “hostile feel,” according to Tillotson.

“It’s not exactly like having bars on the windows, but it’s just not a good feel,” he said.

Still, Tillotson said he feels the "fairly restrictive" current law is adequate. At least two other village trustees disagree and hope to see the driveway gates outlawed.

Gates are already prohibited within the village’s historic district along Main Street. Current village code also restricts the height of driveway gates and their distance from the street based on lot size, as well as a number of design restrictions. 

“I’d like to see them banned — gone,” said trustee Carrie Thayer Crowley at a May 17 board meeting. “We don’t need gates.” 

Trustee William Barbour agreed, saying he “hates” the gates. Trustee Marilyn Clark said while she doesn’t like the look of gates, she would support the community’s wishes to keep them.

The board, deadlocked at 2-2 with Deputy Mayor Lisa Duryea Thayer absent, held off on formally voting and will do so in the future. The law would not impact existing gates.

Terry Cohen, a Hamptons-based real estate broker, spoke in favor of gates at the public hearing. After, the Sagaponack homeowner said while she doesn’t like the look of homes hidden behind hedges, the gates are a necessity.

“We live in a place with big cars, and they’re driving fast,” she said.  

Nick Hemby, chief of the Bridgehampton Fire Department, said there have been instances where gates slowed down first responders. 

About four years ago, firefighters “rammed the gate” at a home to reach a fire, he said. The chief also recalled a more recent example of a homeowner in need of emergency assistance who couldn't reach the buttons to open her gate.

Hemby said the fire department would prefer gates that are wide enough to allow easy access to driveways. He said homeowners also can equip a gate with a device that allows the fire department to open it.

Meanwhile, French, a dentist, is preparing for another summer of vineyard-bound motorists making wrong turns.

“It’s almost every day I got someone driving up the driveway,” he said.

The modern farmhouse where John French and his wife live is hidden from view at the end of a narrow, 850-foot-long stone driveway in Sagaponack.

Their proximity to nearby Wölffer Estate Vineyard often leads drivers to mistakenly pull into their driveway — then plow over landscaping and sprinklers to reverse toward Sagg Road, French said.

They’ve considered building a driveway gate to ward off the wayward drivers.

But new gates might soon be banned in the tiny Hamptons village, where 2020 census figures show 85% of homes are valued above $1 million.

The board of trustees for the Village of Sagaponack is considering a local law that would prohibit new construction of driveway gates, a proposal that drew a hearty rebuke at a May 10 public hearing from more than a dozen homeowners. They argued gates provide security and privacy while keeping children and pets safe. 

Mayor William Tillotson said later that he proposed the law “to clear the air” on an issue that has surfaced frequently in recent years.

The village’s Architectural & Historic Review Board routinely reviews applications for driveway gates, a sometimes “contentious and time-consuming” process, the mayor said.

Not only can the gates present a barrier for first responders, homes hidden behind gates and hedges can create a “hostile feel,” according to Tillotson.

“It’s not exactly like having bars on the windows, but it’s just not a good feel,” he said.

Still, Tillotson said he feels the "fairly restrictive" current law is adequate. At least two other village trustees disagree and hope to see the driveway gates outlawed.

Gates are already prohibited within the village’s historic district along Main Street. Current village code also restricts the height of driveway gates and their distance from the street based on lot size, as well as a number of design restrictions. 

“I’d like to see them banned — gone,” said trustee Carrie Thayer Crowley at a May 17 board meeting. “We don’t need gates.” 

Trustee William Barbour agreed, saying he “hates” the gates. Trustee Marilyn Clark said while she doesn’t like the look of gates, she would support the community’s wishes to keep them.

The board, deadlocked at 2-2 with Deputy Mayor Lisa Duryea Thayer absent, held off on formally voting and will do so in the future. The law would not impact existing gates.

Terry Cohen, a Hamptons-based real estate broker, spoke in favor of gates at the public hearing. After, the Sagaponack homeowner said while she doesn’t like the look of homes hidden behind hedges, the gates are a necessity.

“We live in a place with big cars, and they’re driving fast,” she said.  

Nick Hemby, chief of the Bridgehampton Fire Department, said there have been instances where gates slowed down first responders. 

About four years ago, firefighters “rammed the gate” at a home to reach a fire, he said. The chief also recalled a more recent example of a homeowner in need of emergency assistance who couldn't reach the buttons to open her gate.

Hemby said the fire department would prefer gates that are wide enough to allow easy access to driveways. He said homeowners also can equip a gate with a device that allows the fire department to open it.

Meanwhile, French, a dentist, is preparing for another summer of vineyard-bound motorists making wrong turns.

“It’s almost every day I got someone driving up the driveway,” he said.

To gate or not to gate?

  • More than a dozen residents have cited security and privacy as a reason for driveway gates
  • One Sagaponack trustee has said for the record that he "hates the gates" 
  • Trustees will vote the proposed gate ban in the future after what looked like a recent deadlock 
Ref shortage... Katie Lee Biegel debuts new wine... What's up on LI Credit: Newsday

Home elevation program... Suffolk vehicle auction... Ref shortage... Katie Lee Biegel debuts new wine.

Ref shortage... Katie Lee Biegel debuts new wine... What's up on LI Credit: Newsday

Home elevation program... Suffolk vehicle auction... Ref shortage... Katie Lee Biegel debuts new wine.

Latest videos

SUBSCRIBE

Unlimited Digital AccessOnly 25¢for 5 months

ACT NOWSALE ENDS SOON | CANCEL ANYTIME