WHEN IS A LAW TOO MUCH LAW???....A look At A Village Gone Haywire With A New Zoning Law!
You all know me well enough to know that I love the Village I live in, right? I love it more than any other place I have ever been and I am always on board with the way it is run (since the 18th Century, even!) especially when you see the consistency that has been built into the architecture and the grounds of each residence in this lovely Village.
The way Southampton Village flawlessly operates with the massive crowds that arrive every Memorial Day through Labor Day is a reflection of the deep and abiding respect that the Government Officials have for this historical Village, and in turn the respect on the part of the public for the local laws that make it run so smoothly.
A NEW ZONING LAW REGARDING THE FAMOUS HEDGEROWS....
But the Local Government here has gone one step too far! By listening to just a few complaining residents here, the Village has created a monster of a law that is infringing on the basic rights of every homeowner and the long standing neighborly activity of sharing the trimming of the famous Hedgerow found around every single property here.
Whether it is the Estate Section with it's 3+ acre grounds or the tiny, .25ac. residential lots, or whether there is an evergreen arborvitae hedge or a classic privet hedge, there is a law now that began in 2011:
"This law (contained in Chapter 41 of the Village Code) was only adopted in September, 2011. It requires the owner of the "boundary line hedge" to take care of the entire hedge, which includes trimming the top and side facing the adjoining neighbor at least once a year, no later than July 31 of each year. The one proviso is that the neighbor has to give the owner access to do the trimming"
Now, I have not seen any fist fights, nor have I been privy to the knowledge of any lawsuits yet---but you can bet that the problems are simmering under the surface and it won't take much for a real battle between neighbors to ensue!
THE FAMOUS HEDGEROWS MAKE THE FAMOUS MORE FAMOUS!
For more than a century, privet hedges have been something that made the Hamptons famous, among other more impactful things such as the crowds that appear in the summer months and the famous faces seen on almost every street in the Hamptons.
Famous books have been written about the Hampton's Hedges: "Philistines at the Hedgerow : Passion and Property in the Hamptons" as an example, have made the famous hedges a well known part of living here in the Hamptons. The privacy created has added to the mystic of the storied estates and smaller residential Village lots...a perfect place for a tale such as the one told about Hamptons real estate in Philistines At The Hedgerow".
A GENTLEMAN'S AGREEMENT BETWEEN NEIGHBORS
Everybody here has a hedge---and in the past, there was a "gentleman's agreement" as to the way the privet hedges were trimmed.
Trimming the hedgerows is a twice a year event, with 20-30 foot ladders, a trusty plumb-bob for straight lines and a good pair of hedge trimmers and the landscape workers were free to show their balance and their fine trimming skills--all at the beck and call of the homeowner who lives there. Evergreen arborvitae has become a popular hedgerow as well...and both that and the privet need trimming at least twice a year.
Each neighbor on either side of the hedge row would automatically fall into line with the event that made those straight and even hedges the talk of the town.
Everybody wanted the best looking, sheered clean hedges and they all pitched in with little if any disagreement between neighbors.
Now, Southampton Village has come up with this new law, shown above, and all heck has broken loose.
One homeowner whom I know of, just bought his home at the end of 2012. He is having his hedges trimmed for the first time and is just now realizing the complication of getting not one but three neighbors to approve his workers to go on their grounds to spend an hour or so trimming all the hedges!!!
This all came about because a certain few complained that they had not planted the hedges and "they are not on my property" so the battle began. These homeowners did not want to "share" in the expense (costs can be quite high) of hedge trimming and not only stopped trimming the hedge, but they demanded that the "owner" be the one to trim and pay for both sides of the hedge.
It seems the individual whom I know, bought his house from a builder who built the house to spec and included the surrounding privet hedges for complete privacy. The other neighbors had nothing to do with planting the hedgerow and now the truth of how this complicated law works (or doesn't) is unfolding and he is one unhappy homeowner.
How will this all come down??? Will the Village re-evaluate their decision? Will homeowners adjust and just go ahead and comply or will they fight it??? I think we are going to see some interesting changes in Southampton Village, namely the hedgerows will end and fences will go up! There is already an issue with the deer fencing that is appearing on all Estate Section properties... How sad!
Do you know of any local laws that are creating havoc in your neck of the woods?
PLEASE SHARE IN YOUR COMMENTS ANY OF YOUR LOCAL LAWS THAT ARE NEW, AND/OR CUMBERSOME AND AS COMPLICATED AS THIS ONE IS....
**ALL INFORMATION AND CONTENT IN THIS BLOG IS ORIGINAL TO PAULA I. HATHAWAY. The views expressed herein are my personal views and do not reflect the views of Douglas Elliman Real Estate
Paula I. Hathaway, Senior Broker Associate, Douglas Elliman Real Estate
Southamtpon Village Real Estate Specialist since 1995; Also Specializes in North Sea, Noyac, Water Mill and Bridgehampton, New York
Diamond , Gold and Chairman's Circle Awards; Top Producer since 2005
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