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The East Hampton Star. (East Hampton, N.Y.) 1885-current, February 09, 1978, Image 1

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Winter’s Latest Blow Leaves Town Reeling If any doubted the Monday morning weather reports predicting almost two feet of snow as some wind-blown flakes flew about, they quickly were made believers at around 10:30 a.m. when things began in earnest. From then on, the high, at times hurricane-like winds, out of the north­ east, blew wet snow almost horizont­ ally across the landscape for the next nine or so hours. The storm of Jan. 20 qualified as a blizzard, according to weather bureau criteria, but Monday’s dwarfed it. “Winter hurricane” is probably a more suitable label. Most public roads here were pas­ sable on Tuesday, although a section of Route 114 between Stephen Hand’s Path and Schwenk’s Dairy remained blocked. Route 114 is a State road. High Tides Besides more snow — 16.5 inches as opposed to 14 on the 20th — this storm brought extremely high winds ‘and tides, flooding East Hampton’s vul­ nerable spots, including Lazy Point in Amagansett and Gerard Drive in Springs, and severely eroding areas along the ocean and bay beaches. The storm also caused many more electrical outages than on the 20th. East Hampton Village, because of its underground lines, escaped, pretty much unscathed, but there were out­ ages that lasted several hours or more scattered throughout the Town. Some homes in Springs were without elect­ ricity for up to 15 hours, and as this was being written yesterday morning there were still outages in Culloden Shores, Montauk, and in Amagansett on Bunker Hill Road and along a strip of Route 27 near there. Nevertheless, the Long Island Light­ ing Company came in for some praise here, if somewhat grudging. Evacuations The Amagansett, Springs, and East Hampton Fire Departments helped evacuate some persons in flooded low areas where tides were several feet above normal. The Amagansett Department, by far, had the roughest time of it, trying to reach and evacuate residents on Lazy Point, which was virtually cov­ ered with water. Harold McMahon, Chief of the De­ partment, in recounting the ordeal later, said that if there had been a fire at Lazy Point that night the firemen never would have made it in time. As it was, Mr. McMahon, Charles DiSunno, and Charles Dunne, in four- wheel drive vehicles^ started out at around 9 p.m., after Town Police called to say that abo«'t six persons at the Point, including Mr. DiSunno’s neph­ ew, Joseph Jr. and his family, had asked to be evacuated. Blocked Chief McMahon said they were blocked at two points of access — at the intersection of Cranberry Hole Road and Oceanview Lane and at the railroad tracks on Napeague Meadow Road. A third attempt, via Devon Road, Bendigo Road, and Cranberry Hole Road got them as far as the Cranberry Hole - Napeague Meadow Road intersection, but there, again, they were stopped by flood waters at a depth of three or four feet. “I tried to think of ways we could get through,” Chief McMahon said. “Pos­ sibly a boat, but there wasn’t enough water.” He called, instead, for the Town Highway Department’s DUKW amphibious vehicle, which, driven by Lester Ross, got them through to the houses on Shore Road at ' around midnight. There, they picked up the DiSunnos — Mr. DiSunno, his wife, Mary, and their five-year-old son, Steven — and Mr. and Mrs. Ernest Sears, and began a sweep down Shore Road. A “Disaster” “It was devastating,” said Mr. M g - Mahon. “Especially on the west end. The water had carried a refrigerator into the road, screens, and chairs. Houses were abandoned. Lights were on, doors were open. Fires were still going. It all came up so fast. It was a disaster.” In one house that had lost its heat they found “eight to ten people,” Mr. McMahon said, but could persuade only two to leave. With about 15 persons on the DUKW, they began to head out, but the gas line broke and the DUKW stalled near Merrill’s Restaurant and Bar on Lazy Point Road, at about 1 a.m. Mr. McMahon had the group wait in the Sears’s house, which had heat, and called for a Town payloader. “By that time the tide had dropped consider­ ably.” The payloader cleared the way, and the women and children were put in Robert Merrill’s four-wheel drive truck to be taken to the Napeague Meadow-Cranberry Hole Road inter­ section, where Mr. McMahon and the Continued on Page 2 Beaches Are Truncated East Hampton’s beaches emerged from Monday’s blizzard, the third and most vicious big storm of 1978, in dramatically truncated shape, with gouged dunes, and with several ocean- front homes apparently on the brink of collapse. The rubbly stump of what was once Georgica Beach, where exceptionally severe erosion in recent years has been blamed on the government-built jetties to the west, was chewed back another five feet or so. Further east, the ground was washed out from beneath one corner of the home of Frazer Dougherty, a vehement critic of anti­ erosion devices such as, jetties and revetments. In the Beach Hampton area of Amagansett, the home of Anne S. Greene, whose porch was undermined and chimney footings exposed during the storm of Jan. 9, was further undermined and lost its chimney. The houses on either side of it were reported by Town Police to be en­ dangered too. At least one house in Bridgehampton, that of Karen Turits on aptly-named Surfside Drive, re­ portedly collapsed. According to a local resident, “it just went into the drink.” ! The condition of East Hampton Village’s shorefront in the blizzard’s aftermath was “worse than it has been in quite a number of years,” said one observer who follows its fluctuations avidly, Village Highway Superintend­ ent Bruce Collins. The combination of high easterly winds, high tide, and the fact that the beach was already “very low due to the preceding storms that have taken place this winter,” Mr. Collins said, “just set it up for a pretty good washing this time. There’s no question there was very serious damage. It’s what anyone, I think, could reasonably expect with the beach in the condition it was.” And with the condition it is in now, he added, another storm, “even some­ thing relatively mild, could cause a great deal more damage because of the flatness of the beach.” Under the circumstances, he said, the erosion at the Georgica road-end “wasn’t bad — another five feet; of course, there’s not much up there to really lose.” So far this winter, he estimated, it had lost a total of about ten feet. Moving Put Off One gauge of its retreat is a concrete drainage structure that used to be under the Georgica Beach parking lot. After the Jan. 9 storm, it came into view, still partially buried in the sand beneath the road-end. Now it is well out in the open, and part of the road surface behind it juts out over empty space. Mr. Dougherty reported that he had been thinking for some time of having Robert Kennelly’s house-moving firm move his out of danger, but had been “putting it off a little too long”—until the Jan. 20 storm ate away the dune to within two feet of one corner. Now the corner has nothing under it, though the house itself survived intact, and Mr. Dougherty said it would be moved back about 135 feet as soon as possible. Because of the storm’s gouging, he noted, this task would now be “much harder.” When fie first began living there in 1962, Mr. Dougherty recalled, the house was nearly 100 feet behind the beach. Revetments ■ He also reported that .the house immediately east of his, owned by Peter Peterson, was now in approxi- , Continued on Page 3 Group Wants Cluster The Group for America’s South Fork has invited the Village Planning Board to a meeting in East Hampton on Feb. 14 at the Bank of New Y ork to review Mr. Collins’s alternative scheme for the subdivision of Cove Hollow Farm at Georgica, East Hampton. Mr. Collins is president of the Delta Group, a planning and engineering firm based in Philadelphia which GASF retains for much of its planning work. He has also been involved in two major planning studies undertaken by East Hampton Village recently, one dealing with Main Beach, the other with the Village’s commercial district. The details of Mr. Collins’s ideas for Cove Hollow Farm, a 118-acre wedge of land between Georgica Cove and Georgica Pond south of Briar Patch Road, are not yet known. However Nancy Gqell, executive director, and Russell Stein, assistant director, of the GASF, have told the Planning Board what they want Mr. Collins to achieve with his plan — preservation of as much of the existing farmland along Georgica Pond as possible. Attractions That goal, they feel, could be reached by clustering the house lots in the wooded section of the property, basic­ ally the northwest portion. Mr. Stein said such a scheme might not reap as much of an economic return for the owners of the Farm, William C. Heppen- heimer III and his sisters, Phyllis R. Dix and Faith DeWitt Chase. It would be aesthetically attractive to them, though, Mr. Stein thought, since Mr. Heppenheimer had expressed his in­ tention publicly to preserve the char­ acter of the land through low-density development. Mr. Stein added that Mr. Heppen­ heimer had been agreeable to having the GASF and Mr. Collins walk over his property and draw up an alterna­ tive development proposal, and said that if Mr. Collins “came up with some good ideas,” Mr. Heppenheimer would consider incorporating them. The proposal Mr. Heppenheimer and his sisters have submitted to the Village Planning Board was put to­ gether by Peter Wolf, a New York architect and planner who lives near Cove Hollow Farm. The plan evolved through more than 20 different schemes over the past several months, Mr. Wolf had stated and has at its heart a cluster of existing farm buildings, many of which Mr. Heppen­ heimer and Mr. Wolf would like to see preserved, although converted to resi­ dences. Large Lots The lots, 42 in all, would average three acres in size, with many of those along the water as large as four acres. A ten-acre scenic easement would be established along the waterfront, and there would be reserved areas, totaling 14 acres, along Briar Patch and Georgica Roads and around a restored farmhouse in which Mr. Heppenheimer lives and a nearby farmhouse on the property. Reserved spaces would also make up a system of trails throughout the Farm. Mr. Wolf noted in his initial pre­ sentation to the Planning Board in January that he had considered clus­ tering but had found it difficult to cluster and, at the same time, to preserve the farm buildings at the center of the property. The cluster plan GASF has in mind, Mr. Stein indicated at a Planning Board meeting last Thursday night, would entail smaller lots. The concept of clustering, Mr. Stein said Thursday, was an answer to the conflict between developers and those who wish to preserve the farmlands, wetlands, or other natural features. Properties could be partially developed and partially preserved as open space, he said, and through clustering provi­ sions and various tax advantages the developers could still get a reasonable return on their investments. Road Review ' Also at last Thursday’s Planning Board session, an engineer hired by the Village, George Michos, reviewed Mr. Wolfs plan for Cove Hollow Farm and made several suggestions, most relatively minor. Mr. Michos found fault with curb angles at an intersection of the two proposed roads that would serve the subdivision, and with the egress from a cul-de-sac that would serve as the terminus of the two roads. He also suggested there be an access strip between one of the roads and the scenic easement which runs along the water so that walkers might have access. Tim Neale VOL. *505111, NO. 23 ’ HAST HAMPTON, N.Y. THURSDAY, FHBRUARY 9, 1978 All Aboard For Vladivostok Jack Graves . o .. Hearing Set On F loating Zone The East Hampton Town Board, meeting Friday, formally proposed, for the second time in two years, a zoning amendment that would establish a “floating” apartment zone that could be used to permit subsidized housing projects for “senior citizens.” A public hearing on the proposal was scheduled for 11 a.m. March 3. The Board also scheduled a hearing on a new version of a proposal to ban parking on part of Three Mile Harbor Road opposite the Olympic Heights Service Station. This will be at 10:30 a.m. March 3. Other Town business Friday included the purchase of a boat for one dollar. Another Town Board meeting was to have occurred Tuesday night, for the purpose of holding eight hearings on various routine matters that were to have been held during a meeting on Jan. 20, which was cancelled because of snow. Tuesday’s meeting was also cancelled because of snow. Prefer 20 Units The “floating zone” proposal was described in detail in last week’s Star. The zone is called “floating” because no land would actually be zoned for apart­ ments until and unless a developer proposed a government-subsidized pro­ ject for a specific site and the Board, after another hearing, approved it. According to the amendment’s word­ ing, the Board could approve projects of up to 50 units but would prefer groupings of 20. Five' units per acre could be allowed in residential areas and seven per acre elsewhere. Besides housing “senior citizens,” the projects would include a “small portion”—no more than 25 per cent—of apartments for young people. A similar proposal was debated at a public hearing in July, 1976, and nearly everyone who spoke expressed skeptic­ ism or opposition. Some apparently viewed the unfamiliar idea as portend­ ing urban ghettos and developers’ profits; older residents said they did not want to live in a project, and others said they did not want to have to live near one. The idea was dropped. A local housing survey that was completed last month, however, af­ firmed there was a need for subsidized apartments after all—200 of them, scattered about the Town in clusters of 20 or 25. It recommended construction of 100 over a four-year period, with the rest to follow if the first were success­ ful. Funding The Federal Department of Housing and Urban Development, which may subsidize anywhere from zero to 75 per cent of each apartment’s rental value depending on the tenant’s income, and which also gives local municipalities annual disbursements known as “com­ munity . development funds,” mean­ while began enforcing a regulation which denies these funds to towns that don’t meet its criteria for planning housing assistance. HUD gave East Hampton until Jan. 31 to approve a controversial project it had approved, “Gateway East,” which would comprise 50 units, 40 of them for \senior citizens,” at the corner of Route 27 and Bunker Hill Road in Amagan­ sett. It also withheld $75,000 in com­ munity development funds the Town was due last year. The Town has not approved “Gateway East,” and the money, as Councilwoman Mary Fallon noted Friday, is “lost.” „ Town officials have insisted that their decisions won’t be affected by pressure from HUD and that, if they do approve the “floating zone” proposal, that won’t necessarily mean they will approve “Gateway East” too. Down At The Station The proposed parking ban would cover the west side of Three Mile Harbor Road for a distance of 75 feet south of its intersection with Soak Hides Road. That is where the Olympic Heights Service Station often parks cars it is servicing. An earlier version of the proposal, considered in July, would have covered 150 yards. The Station’s owner, Terry Schutte, pro­ tested vigorously, calling it discrimin­ atory, though he said he would not mind if it covered 25 feet. It had been requested by Town police and by some residents of that neighborhood, who complained that the parked cars obstructed the vision of motorists emerging from Soak Hides Road. Town officials said after the July hearing that they would think the matter over after going to the inter­ section and observing the situation for themselves, and nothing more was heard of it until a recent Board meeting, when a resident of the area, Ralph George, revived the visual-obstruction issue. The boat fo^ which the Town will pay the token sum of one dollar was offered by Budd Levinson, a wealthy resident of Three , Mile Harbor Road. The Board’s resolution accepting it de­ scribed it as a Bertram 30-foot inboard and reported that \the Chief of Police has informed the Town Board that the boat would be of great value to the Police Department.” Other Business In other business, the Board: • Reappointed the Town’s planning and zoning committee, a think tank of sorts in which officials ponder planning problems and ideas for new legislation. Its members are Mrs. Fallon, who chairs it, Councilmen Larry Cantwell and Hugh King, Clayton P. Morey of the Planning Board, Elbert Edwards of the Zoning Board of Appeals, Building Inspector Joseph DeCristofaro, Thomas M. Thorsen, the Town planner, and James 0. Berlinger, the Town attorney. Continued on Page 6 Bell E state: New Plan A new subdivision plan for part of the 556-acre Bell estate in Amagansett has been submitted to the Town Planning Board and is on file in the Building Inspector’s office at Town Hall. The plan, which has not yet been reviewed by the Board, would carve 45 lots from the 109.85 acres of the estate west of the Springs-Amagansett Road and south of Red Dirt Road. The remainder of the estate, including the 21-room mansion built in 1914 over­ looking Gardiner’s Bay, lies east of the Springs-Amagansett Road and consists of most of the land from there to the bay between Barnes Hole Road on the north and Fresh Pond Road on the south. The recent submission by the owners of the property, Benenson Realty Company of New York, is the latest in a series that have kept the future of the estate in question since it was pur­ chased in 1969 from Southampton Hos­ pital, to which it had been bequeathed by Dr. and Mrs. Dennistoun Bell. At one point, in 1974, Benenson proposed a 1,390-living-unit subdivi­ sion, but the plan was stymied by the Town’s upzoning the property to a two-acre residential district, which prompted a lawsuit against the Town that remains unresolved. “Equestrian” Development The plan now on file for the western portion of the estate appears to be the first part of a proposal discussed by a spokesman for Benenson last spring; however, no one at Benenson could be reached this week to confirm that. An “equestrian” plan announced at that time would create 155 house lots and turn the mansion into a clubhouse for a private riding club with several hun­ dred horses. There would also be a polo facility and guest lodges that would bring the total number of dwelling units on the estate to 205, well within the two-acre zoning requirements. One reason it appears Benenson is pursuing its “equestrian” plan is the fact that the recent subdivision map submitted to the Planning Board shows extensive “bridle paths” running through the proposed 45 lots. The paths would make up a large portion of the reserved areas, which total 14.3 acres, shown on the map for the west portion. The map, which was prepared by the George H. Walbridge Company of East Hampton, also shows reserved areas along the west boundary of the property and along Springs-Amagan­ sett Road, and three roads providing access to that road. Jeopardy The plan was first unveiled by an agent of Benenson last spring, Giles Lauren, who discussed the proposal with Armand DeRose, Planning Board chairman, but a subsequent meeting on the subject, scheduled for May 25, Continued on Page 9

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