After years of discussion, proposed legislation limiting the size of houses in Southold Town up for public hearing this month

Southold may pass legislation to limit maximum house size in town, a measure local civic groups have been working on with the Town Board for more than a year.

A public hearing on the proposed law will be held on Tuesday June 21 at 4:30 p.m. According to a notice on the town website, the proposed local law is meant to “address issues concerning the maximum size of single-family homes in certain zoning districts.” The legislation is consistent with the town comprehensive plan, the town noted.

The law would establish “maximum limits on house size based on lot size” in residential and agricultural-conservation zoning districts and is “necessary to maintain the community character of the residential communities as called for in the Comprehensive Plan,” according to the notice. 

The maximum size for lots larger than five acres, the very largest homes the code would allow for, would be 10,100 square feet plus one percent of any additional lot area beyond that acreage. 

Cumulative area includes all floor levels of all dwellings on a lot, including attached garages. Interior spaces with a floor-to-ceiling height beyond 15 feet would be counted twice towards gross floor area. Accessory buildings or structures that can’t be converted to habitable space would not be included in that count. Lot area is equivalent to buildable land. 

Residential buildings with sloping roofs would be limited to a height of 35 feet, and residential buildings with flat or mansard roofs would be limited to a height of 25 feet. A pyramid clause would further limit roof heights near property lines. 

New construction, re-construction or improvement of any dwellings would be limited by the standards set by the code, or by a Zoning Board of Appeals variance that may not exceed the average gross floor area of homes in the immediate area.

Homes that exceed new limits when the law is passed would be deemed non-conforming. The gross floor area restrictions would not apply to farm labor housing.

“Development has run rampant in Southold Town in recent years, and developers are replacing modest homes on small lots in neighborhoods throughout the town with large homes on a scale that has historically been more typical of the South Fork than the North Fork,” said civic leaders Drianne Benner and Anne Murray in a press release. 

“Many other East End towns and villages have restricted this type of development, and the North Fork Civics have modeled their request for this zoning change in Southold after codes that have been effective in neighboring towns,” they added.

The North Fork Civics has posted an updated presentation on house size in town on its website.

The proposed legislation may be viewed on the Southold Town website.