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East Hampton Village: Decorate windows, or face fine

Main Street in East Hampton Village on Sept.

Main Street in East Hampton Village on Sept. 8, 2011. Credit: Erin Geismar

East Hampton Village will look better this winter, after the summer crowds are gone and the seasonal stores close.

For the first time, the empty windows will not have an empty look: That’s now the law.

The village board voted unanimously Friday to require that the owner of a storefront vacant for more than two weeks must fill the windows with a display of products, art work, or other materials which would make the windows less empty. Any graphics or posters put up must be at least 4 feet from the window.

Simply covering windows with brown paper is specifically prohibited, and the village board clarified its law so that “for rent” signs can no longer be put right in the middle of the window, but instead must go in the lower right or left-hand corner.

East Hampton officials say the law is the first of its kind on Long Island. It would not apply to stores being renovated. Violations carry a penalty of as much as $250 a day.

For all its glamour as one of the premier villages of the Hamptons, East Hampton Village sees many of its high-end stores close for the winter, when customers flee to warmer climates or back to New York City. Or Hollywood. Or Paris.

For the past two years, the village has been working on ways to deal with the situation. “Papered-over windows and disheveled empty storefronts diminish the life and vitality of the street,” village law states.

The village has a 12-page guide showing proper ways of filling vacant windows; though the guidelines were adopted two years ago, they were strictly voluntary until now.

Above: Main Street in East Hampton Village. (Sept. 8, 2011)

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