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Southampton may alter code to limit size of new homes in village

Officials seek to preserve the charm and character of the village, which they say is threatened by houses that are too big for their lots.

Southampton Village Hall on Main Street. The village

Southampton Village Hall on Main Street. The village is considering altering its zoning code to further restrict the size of new homes. Photo Credit: Gordon M. Grant

Southampton Village officials are considering refining their zoning code to further restrict the size of new homes built in the village.

Supporters of the proposed law say it is needed, as most new building applications are for structures that are the maximum size allowed under village code, which they claim is too large in relation to lot sizes and out of character for the neighborhood.

“We’re building houses that are larger than have ever been built in the village, across the village,” village planning commission chairman Paul Travis said during a village board meeting earlier this month.

The new law would restrict the maximum “gross floor area” of buildings to 10 percent of a property plus 1,500 square feet. Current zoning allows buildings to be 12 percent of the lot plus 1,500 square feet.

A public hearing on the proposed change is set for March 8 at 6 p.m. at Village Hall. If adopted, the law would apply to all building permits obtained after April 1, 2018.

The village first instituted building restrictions in relation to lot size in 2003.

In 2016, the village board asked the planning commission to study current and past village building patterns and recommend changes if needed. The commission, using data compiled by the Riverhead-based Studio a/b Architects and community input, found that current regulations allowed dwellings larger in size and scale than what they considered to be in line with the character of the community.

“What we heard from both the experts and the public in the workshops overwhelmingly was the belief that there needed to be further restrictions on the size of new residential construction,” Travis said, adding that he does not believe the code change will affect the real estate market.

Village officials have made other zoning changes in recent years to preserve the charm of the village.

The board voted in December 2017 to expand its “pyramid law,” which restricts building height in relation to lot size, to all residential zones. Earlier that year the board voted to include accessory structures, like pool houses, into the total allowable building space on a property.

“There’s a community character in Southampton that people pay for,” Travis said.

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