Sagaponack Homeowners Unite

The Sagaponack Village Board moved forward last month in its efforts to revise village code relating to lot coverage.

Since the summer the village has been discussing the possibility about updating its codes after a slew of residents mentioned how many of the properties are becoming overdeveloped. The board presented a series of proposed changes to the code in September and a public hearing is scheduled for October 15 at 4 p.m. to discuss the matter further.

The mission of the board is to preserve the integrity and landscape of the village.

“The goal has nothing to do with large buildings, but to put some constraints on what people can do with the land,” Mayor Donald Louchheim said. “We don’t want every square inch of land to be disturbed.”

The village is taking progressive action after hearing residents voice their growing concerns about the scenic character of the neighborhood changing. A historic farming community, Sagaponack still remains the most rural hamlet on the South Fork, but its dynamic is beginning to change.

The newly drafted provision is set to include driveways, swimming pools, playing courts and other backyard accessory amenities. The village intends to come to a resolution on these various structures in the coming months by updating its codes in line with neighboring towns, such as East Hampton.

“The lot coverage is only a minor part of what we are doing,” Louchheim said. “We are seeking to make our ordinances similar to elsewhere.”

The village’s proposed amendments to Chapter 245 in its local law book on the subject of lot coverage and setbacks is meant to provide neighbors with ample room or “breathing space,” as Louchheim puts it, and to protect the countryside in the village.

Sagaponack code defines lot coverage as the percentage of lot area covered by the ground floor area of all buildings or structures, including parking areas, driveways and all impermeable surfaces.

The new code proposes a maximum percentage of lot coverage in residential districts. It shall be 20% for R-40, 10% for R-80, 10% for R-120 and 5% for lots exceeding 199,999 square feet. Each accessory building or other structure located or constructed in a backyard is not allowed to occupy more than 20% of the backyard’s total space, except for decks and patios within 12 inches of grade. Total rear yard lot coverage, including all structures, can reach as much as 50% for smaller lots of 39,999 square feet or less, and as little as 25% for lots between 200,000 and 424,999 square feet.

Slowing Down Development
White’s Farm in Sagaponack is not only the oldest family-owned oceanfront farm field in the Hamptons, it’s also the last. The farm’s future seemed to be in jeopardy last summer when one of Houston’s wealthiest oil-and-gas men, Anthony Petrello, purchased 11 acres of the property and attempted to zone it for residential construction, rather than its agricultural use. He also holds the right of first refusal for the remaining 46 acres of White’s farm.

John White’s family has been working its 57-acre oceanfront farm in Sagaponack since 1695, and it is the last holdout against a wave of mansions that have sprouted up along the picturesque waterfront.

However, the rural and agricultural quiescence might have a ray of light. If a nonprofit group such as the Nature Conservancy or the Peconic Land Trust were able to take over the land, it could preserve the tranquility of the landscape.

The Town of Southampton holds the development rights, which encourages the property to remain agricultural and protects the land from becoming a residential lot.

The thought of possibly losing this farm for another mansion has saddened many local residents.

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