[HISTORY: Adopted by the Town Board of the Town of Southampton 7-22-2008 by L.L. No. 43-2008. Amendments noted where applicable.]
Zoning — See Ch. 330.
Surrounded by water, farmland and the Pine Barrens, Southampton has unique and spectacular natural features that contribute considerably to its character and help drive the local economy. The 1970 Master Plan and 1999 Comprehensive Plan Update recognize the Town's resort-tourism identity and economy and specifically address ways to promote development that contributes to and retains the Town's rural and resort image.
Section § 330-155 of the Town Code of the Town of Southampton currently provides a mechanism by which a parcel devoted to a multiple dwelling, cottage, resort motel or transient hotel/motel use or other uses may be converted to a residential condominium or cooperative. Conversions are currently permitted by special exception in every residential and commercial zoning district, including the Motel Business (MTL) Zone, which does not permit residential housing as of right. Many of the Motel Business Zones are situated along major arterial roads or are near the water and provide access to transient tourists.
When the initial Town Code provision § 330-155 was enacted, the Town Board at that time sought to provide a mechanism to encourage residential condominium/cooperative conversions as many of the motels were degraded or already being used for multifamily/affordable housing. Today, rising land and development costs along with increased housing demand have led to a resurgence toward condominium conversions as the potential exists to construct multi-family housing without the necessity of applying for a floating zone designation (i.e., planned development district or multifamily residential district), which would normally have to meet location standards and require a public benefit component.
The special exception standards allow preexisting older motels and multiple seasonal cottages, etc., to be rebuilt, provided that the total number of units remains the same and the coverage on any given site is not exceeded. However, unintended consequences are resulting from the application of this provision. For example, in a single-family residential district, a parcel that has 10 small one-story seasonal cottages may apply to rebuild 10 large two-story year-round condominiums, even though the current zoning would require one single-family home if the lot were vacant. In this scenario, the special exception standards of § 330-155 fall short in that they do not address the redesign of a site, including architectural standards or retention of open space/natural features, and do not require a yield map to determine the conforming number of units that would ordinarily be permitted by the zoning district.
Preliminary assessment by the Planning Division indicates that there are at least 1,222 units throughout the town that may be eligible for conversion. If condominium conversions as currently permitted have the potential to create an impact on residential uses and growth, then such application of the Town Code requires further consideration and analysis. For example, additional burden on school districts and Town services from year-round occupancy that has not been anticipated as a result of these conversions should be examined. Furthermore, the loss of transient motels and docks in waterfront areas also requires further analysis as this is conflicting with the Town's long-term Local Waterfront Revitalization Program goals to protect the harbors and waterfront for commercial fishing and shellfishing while continuing to provide public access and tourist-related activities.
In addition, certain other land uses may convert to residential condominiums and cooperatives by requesting a variance from the Zoning Board of Appeals. The special exception standards of § 330-155 are still applicable for site plan approval of such premises for which Zoning Board approvals have been garnered allowing for conversion to such residential use. The same issues of density, scale, and need for updated performance and design criteria apply to such circumstances which often involve restaurant, nightclub, marina or other commercial uses due to preexisting sewage-flow rights. The Town's 1999 Comprehensive Plan and Nightclub Study recommend a closer examination of the neighborhood character and determination of compatibility with the adjoining land uses, while also ensuring the Town's sustainability as a resort economy.
In the section entitled "Economic Development" of the 1999 Comprehensive Plan Update, the following is noted: "Formalizing an already common practice - the variance procedure for non-residential, pre-existing non-conforming uses (§ 330-167B) should regularly be referred to the Planning Board for their comment, especially with regard to compliance with the comprehensive plan. Note that the Planning Board retains jurisdiction over site plan approval for such expansions." The same is true for conversions to residential condominiums and cooperatives and the performance standards of § 330-155 would apply to such special exception uses in the various zoning districts.
The Town Board finds that a proactive approach is necessary to respond to these issues by undertaking a study to determine the potential impacts of conversions cumulatively, to see what additional standards and adjustments need to be put in place. The study will include exploration into retaining a certain percentage of transient motels and overnight accommodations within the town as well as the opportunity to create affordable units for the year-round and seasonal work force. Motel Zoning Districts will also be evaluated to determine what action items of the Comprehensive Plan may be implemented in the areas they occur to potentially permit other viable uses in addition to motels. Conversions in Resort Waterfront Districts will also be assessed to determine the impact of conversions on public access to the waterfront. The applicability of potential conversions from existing restaurants and marinas and similar land uses will also be examined.
Therefore, this moratorium is enacted in order to allow the time to address the inadequacy of the current standards and revise them to ensure growth and development that is consistent with the carrying capacity of the Town's natural resources and services, and the capacity of existing systems to provide supply services in order to maintain good environmental and economic health and a high quality of life. The ensuing regulations will be drafted to promote consistency with the predominant scale, massing, density, and architectural style of existing buildings in all new development, renovation and expansion.
The study area shall include all lands within the Town of Southampton where multiple dwelling, cottages, resort motel or transient hotel/motel uses or other uses exist that may be converted to residential condominiums or cooperatives, including parcels zoned Resort Waterfront Business (RWB) and Motel (MTL), under the provisions of § 330-155 of the Town Code as a special exception use.
This chapter is adopted pursuant to the Municipal Home Rule Law and the State Environmental Quality Review Act and its implementing regulations and expressly supersedes any provisions of Chapter 330 of the Town Code of the Town of Southampton and § 276 of the Town Law of the State of New York. In particular, this chapter shall supersede those provisions of the Town Code and New York State Law which requires the Planning Board to accept process and approve site plan applications within certain statutory time periods.
The provisions of this chapter shall apply to all lands within the Town of Southampton that are eligible for special exception and site plan applications to the Planning Board for conversion to a residential condominium or cooperative pursuant to § 330-155 of the Town Code of the Town of Southampton.
This chapter shall apply for a period of six months from the effective date hereof. This chapter shall expire after said six-month period unless and until this time period is extended by the Town Board after adoption of a subsequent local law.
The following applications are excluded from this chapter:
Building permits for projects that have received all necessary approvals prior to the adoption of this chapter;
Renovation to existing structures which do not involve a change of use or expansion of any existing structure;
Modifications to approved applications which do not involve expansion of existing structures;
Applications deemed complete by the Planning Board which have already been scheduled for a public hearing.
Applications may be exempted from the provisions of this chapter, following a public hearing on notice before the Town Board. Upon such application, the Town Board shall consider:
The size of the subject parcel;
The proximity of the applicant's premises to wetlands, Pine Barrens, endangered plant and animal species, wildlife and other similar environmental concerns;
The extent of the proposed development and/or disturbance of the applicant's premises to include clearing, grading, dredging, groundwater and drainage impacts;
The environmental significance, if any, of the applicant's parcel and the proposed development's impact upon the environment, to include infrastructure, traffic and school district impacts;
Compatibility of the proposed development with the aesthetic resources of the community or with the existing community or neighborhood character (e.g., visual impact, including bulk and mass of proposed structures);
Compatibility of the proposed development with the recommendations of the 1970 Master Plan and 1999 Comprehensive Plan Update, including any applicable hamlet studies adopted as amendments by local law; and
For projects on the waterfront, compatibility with the objectives of the pending Local Waterfront Revitalization Program (LWRP), including the extent that transient lodging/docks and public access to the water will be permanently lost.
In making a determination under Subsection A, the Town Board may obtain and consider written reports from the Department of Land Management and such other sources as required in the judgment of the Town Board and consistent with the purpose of this chapter. A grant of an exemption to an applicant's premises shall include a determination of unnecessary hardship and unique circumstances which do not generally apply throughout the study area set forth in § 317-2 and a finding that the grant of an exemption will be in harmony with and will not be unduly disruptive to the Condominium Conversion Study undertaken pursuant to this chapter.
An application under Subsection A shall be accompanied by a fee of $500 and 18 copies of the application, together with the applicant's written undertaking, in a form to be approved by the Town Attorney and, in substance, approved by the Town Board, to pay either in advance or by reimbursement, at the Town Board's on-going election, any out-of-pocket costs incurred by the Town in studies and/or by retainer of resource personnel and relating to the hearing, review, and determination of such application.