By Marianna Levine
About a year ago Bridgehampton Citizens Advisory Committee member Jeffery Vogel realized the Southampton Planning and Zoning Boards were using an out-dated hamlet study as a guideline for further development in the hamlet.Â
“Even though the study was done in 2003 and 2004 it only really talked about the Commons and the commercial downtown area. It didn’t address anything else,” said Vogel in an interview this week.
Vogel explained that Bridgehampton’s actual residents were more concerned about preserving the rural and residential nature of the hamlet rather than commercial ventures and that a new study was needed to address these issue.
After discussing the hamlet study and the CAC’s concerns with Town Board member and Bridgehampton resident Nancy Graboski, they both came to the conclusion that the CAC should make notes and suggestions for a revised hamlet study rather than hire an outside professional planning organization to do it at great cost. It is an expense of time and money that the Town of Southampton can ill afford at the moment.
Vogel came up with several specific items that the CAC feels need to be addressed in any future hamlet studies. Vogel said in a November CAC meeting that the study needs to define the hamlet’s boundaries. At the moment there are several districts within Bridgehampton that don’t agree on the hamlet’s boundaries such as the school, fire, and park, and postal districts.Â
“We have the line drawn by Sagaponack on the east, and the ocean on the south, but the northern and western areas have no definite boundaries” he explains.
The CAC would also like the hamlet to remain primarily a residential and rural community. This then brought up the fact that the hamlet needs some sort of historical designation in order to protect Bridgehampton’s charm and character. Vogel stated in November that, “other communities have this protection and so should we.”Â The CAC also hopes to keep local retail merchants on Main Street and not have them flee to the nearby mall. In the end, Vogel feels none of this will come to anything if there isn’t a better and a more formal liaison between the Town Board, Zoning Board and the CAC in the future.Â
Vogel does realize that the CAC is not an appointed or elected group of people, unlike the other boards, but rather a collection of volunteers with a variety of experience to draw from. As a matter of fact anyone who lives or works in Bridgehampton can become a member of the CAC, they just need to put their name in so that the Town Board can formally approve them. Fred Camman related at a recent meeting that he doesn’t recall anyone being denied membership. Vogel feels this is a very democratic process and that the CAC represents the opinions of people who actually reside in the hamlet.
“The town of Southampton is so large and diverse, it is very hard for the board to focus on our town. We’re not a large population although we do represent a large tax base. Through the CAC we’re trying to give voice to Bridgehampton’s concerns.”
It is because the CAC members know and cherish their hamlet so well that Vogel feels they can best accomplish a revised hamlet study for the town board use in the future. Recently he gathered a group of four other CAC members to work on the revised hamlet study from now until March. The committee will include CAC chair Fred Camman as well as Weezie Quimby, Kathy Gendal, and Ian MacPherson. He said they have already a working list of concerns, and hope to have a written report to give Nancy Graboski in March. Once they hand in their revisions to Ms. Graboski, he hopes she’ll review them and present them to the town planning board in the spring. Vogel sincerely hopes the planning board will take up some of the CAC’s concerns and approve the revised hamlet study sooner rather than later before he sees any more unwanted changes to the hamlet he cherishes.