After close to six years of vetting on town boards and in the public, The Orchard at Bulls Head Inn project is one step closer to breaking ground. At a planning board meeting on Thursday, July 22, a majority of the planning board deemed the application complete. It will now be forwarded to other agencies, like the town’s Architectural Review Board, the Landmarks and Historic District board and the Bridgehampton Citizen Advisory Committee for comment, and then brought back to the planning board for final approval.
Above: An elevation of one of the four two-story cottages. The building will be built in wood, which will weather naturally, and the staircase is shown on the left.
Four cottages, to be situated on the eastern border of the property at the corner of Bridgehampton/Sag Harbor Turnpike and Montauk Highway, were widely debated. The two-story structures will be fashioned in cedar wood, which will be naturally aged, with trellises connecting the buildings. Based on the modern design of these buildings, town planner Claire Vail recommended the board hold a public hearing specifically on the cottages.
But the project’s attorney David Gilmartin, Jr., argued that the public would fail to reach consensus and that additional public hearings would drag out the process.
According to Gilmartin’s interpretation of the final environmental review statement, the planning board should direct any architectural matters related to the cottages to the ARB. It was also noted in an ARB document from June 1 that the project’s architect, Roger Ferris, met with members of the board to examine revisions made to these structures. The staircases were placed on the side of the buildings and the four structures appeared to be connected with the addition of the trellises. During this informal meeting, the ARB was pleased with the design amendments.
Planning board member Jacqui Lofaro was the lone dissenting voice who pushed for the public hearing.
“This is not the architecture of the inn,” Lofaro remarked. “This is the first time we are looking at this. How can you say the community has seen it? None of those interested parties have seen this.”
Lofaro pointed out that the Bulls Head Inn project has been highly controversial and is a matter of great public interest. Though the planning board and the zoning board of appeals has held many public hearings, the public has not had the opportunity to weigh in on the revised plans, the project’s representatives admitted. In Lofaro’s opinion, these auxiliary buildings are out of sync with the historic character of the hamlet and the inn.
Bulls Head owner, and former Philip Morris executive, William Campbell addressed the board, noting that architecture is subjective and he would prefer the experts weighed in on the designs instead of the general public.
Gilmartin added that Campbell is willing to make any changes to the project’s design based on the feedback of the CAC, ARB and the landmarks board.
“We need to get to consensus quickly,” Gilmartin noted, adding that the process has been taxing on Campbell. “Take input from those boards with expertise and then make a decision.”