Introducing Build.In.Kind/East Hampton
To “build in kind” means to renovate or rebuild a structure basically as it is—in the same form and existing footprint. It is generally a much lower impact option than other types of construction projects. These days in East Hampton, we don’t see very much of building in kind anymore…
In fact, for years now, we’ve been seeing the opposite – it’s been mainly “all demo, no reno.” And mostly, it’s been all about…BIGGER.
Houses, even not very old ones, are demolished and replaced with new structures, most often double to quadruple the size...It seems that 6000 square feet is fast becoming the "new normal." Or new construction on previously undeveloped parcels clears and covers as much of the lot as possible. And a surge in lot subdivisions is driving rapid densification where there had been a sense of open space.
Much of today's aggressive building is of a scale and in a style far out of proportion and context with the character of the surrounding streets and neighborhoods. The effect on our natural resources is severe, as each year, miles of woodlands, duneland, wetlands and native vegetation are excavated -- supplanted with impervious surface and planted with sod and ornamentals. The impact: it compromises quality of life for human residents and is devastating for our wildlife and biodiversity; it’s out of step with the Town’s environmental and affordability imperatives.
It's time to take some action!
So, I’ve started an effort I am calling Build.In.Kind/East Hampton. My objective is to help to restore rational restraint and inspire desire for more modulated proportions in order to mitigate the negative impact of development activity on our Town by instilling a “stewardship mindset” and sowing a “land ethic.” The goal is to have building and development (in terms of scale and scope) that is literally kinder to – i.e., has a gentler and more positive effect on-- our natural resources, environment, rural and historical character, affordability, sustainability and quality of life.
My hope is all East Hampton building projects will be viewed not just through the narrowest lens of individual wants, but also from a broader perspective of overall impact on the land and community.
With Build.In.Kind/East Hampton I am looking to build constructive and positive engagement by bringing together analytical and creative, forward-looking, concerned citizens in two ways.
First, in the near term: forming a working group of individuals drawn from all our Hamlets to (a) help to rethink Town zoning code strategically and tactically in a way that builds upon its historical validity and addresses the new reality; (b) engage and educate as well as advocate and advise appropriately our town boards, committees, and departments as well as citizens, homeowners, and visitors.
Second, over the longer term: developing a network of people who work in all parts of the real estate ecosystem -- brokers, builders, developers, architects, designers, landscapers, lawyers and consultants-- who want to join in with this effort and work to integrate the principles of Build.In.Kind into the business of real estate development in order to create value not just for themselves, but for all stakeholders in our community.
I’d love to hear from you if you would like to get involved and be part of this effort, or if you simply want to hear more, share your thoughts or offer advice.
I'm Jaine Mehring. I'm a 20-year resident of the Beach Hampton area of Amagansett. But my visits to and my love and respect for East Hampton date back five decades.
My career has spanned financial, industry, and equity markets analysis; business/people management and leadership; human capital management and analytics; as well as consulting and coaching.
Over the last several years, I've become much more educated about and engaged in local issues. We're a small town, but we have some big world concerns to address.
In particular, I am most interested in working on issues of housing affordability, shoreline protection and access, sustainability, preservation of our natural resources, and finding balanced solutions to the many problems created by overdevelopment.
I've started this Build.In.Kind initiative to work and partner with other East Hampton citizens who want to engage constructively and creatively on these issues, too.