Hamptons Hint: Bigger Is No Longer Better

Even in places that like to think they “live and let live,” it’s possible to get too much in other people’s faces. That’s basically where we are on the East End of Long Island, where the McMansion binge is leading to many new homes being built to the legal limits of size and footprint, often dwarfing neighbors in their more restrained dwellings of earlier affluence. The huge new structures frequently (if not usually) are “spec” construction–the work of developers and realty shops looking to market multimillion-dollar properties to nouveau-riche buyers wanting to “live the life” of the greater Hamptons second home. (After positioning the houses just within the zoning code, they sometimes then request and get variances for extras like tennis courts.) Well, even on the more conservative North Fork, a political reaction in the form of tighter building limits has materialized, as this story from the greenish monthly East End Beacon reports. On the South Fork, where vastly more wealth is at play, a similar if stricter movement is afoot, led by citizen activist Jaine Mehring of Amagansett, a hamlet of East Hampton town. Development issues have produced electoral watersheds in these parts before–most memorably in East Hampton in the booming 1980s. The money at stake, on both sides, is a multiple now of what it was then. A classic showdown between property rights–even as understood within existing regulations–and the “character of a community” is brewing where once you legendarily didn’t trouble or even know the people next door.

Published by timwferguson

Longtime writer-editor, focusing on topics of business and policy, global and local.

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