top of page

The Six Pillars of Build.In.Kind/EastHampton

Build.In.Kind with...


  • Restrain/minimize clearing of woodlands, dune lands, wetlands

  • Protect ecosystems and restore wildlife habitats and native vegetation

  • Incentivize proactive land stewardship and build accountability through oversight and enforcement.

Build.In.Kind with...


  • Ensure diverse housing stock by protecting lots < ½ acre & keeping 33% of housing mix <1800 sq ft  

  • Have  supply of homes/apartments that remain accessible to people who live and work in EH, deploying a variety of models including a not-for-profit, private/grant funded "land trust"

  • Set required ratios of expanded GFA:#affordable units; extend the use of affordable housing overlays

Build.In.Kind With...


  • Reduce scale/lighten footprint of building along ocean, bay, pond, lake shorelines

  • Prevent man-made "hardening" of coastal areas and do not impede natural erosion; minimize impermeable surfaces; stem degradation of water quality and habitat loss

  • Protect/restore shore vistas & ensure citizen access & peaceful enjoyment of beaches for all

Build.In.Kind with...


  • Construct/hardscape/landscape with scale, scope, design and materials that integrate rather than dominate the landscape

  • Maintain authentic aesthetic in order to protect bucolic, agricultural,  traditional & historic viewsheds & shoreline vistas, and community character

  • Fend off suburbanization

Build.In.Kind with...


  • Realize individual and  overall net reductions in house emissions and effluent (carbon, nitrogen etc)

  • Stop excessive/unnecessary energy, water, chemical and materials consumption

  • Fully protect our aquifer/drinking water quality; remediate and protect against further degradation of water quality in all our water bodies.

Build.In.Kind with....


  • Scale back sprawl, bulk & intensity of use

  • Don’t build looming structures or compromise neighbors’ rights to peaceful enjoyment of their own properties; minimize noise, light and visual pollution

  • Retain sense of open space and breathing room; protect setbacks, open front yards and minimize fencing/gates

Stewardship vs. Ownership: What is a "Land Ethic"?


From the time European explorers arrived in the “New World,” they viewed themselves primarily as “conquerors” of the seemingly endless expanse of land; over the centuries and decades that followed in America, the prevailing belief was that the land should be fully available for unfettered use and extraction of natural resources.  


Few rights have been more prominent throughout American history than property rights, which the colonists considered central to the conception of liberty and the precursor of all other rights. Private property rights remain cherished as fundamental to our democracy.  


However, an oft-seen attitude of many landowners that one should be able to do whatever one wants within the boundaries of one’s parcel, uninhibited by “external” constraint, and often without regard for the natural elements of the land, has become unsustainable.  


Today, individual relationships to the land appear primarily economic, focused on extracting and maximizing personal enjoyment and value for self. In that context, land development will often transmogrify into a solipsistic process of self realization, self satisfaction and ego expression without a balancing regard for the longer term consequences on direct neighbors or the broader community. 


The concept of the “land ethic” – primarily attributed to the early 20th century American naturalist and philosopher Aldo Leopold -- does not deny or seek to nullify robust individual property interests. However, it compels the notion that ownership rights cannot be detached from stewardship responsibilities. It offers a set of values premised on caring for, rather than disregard of others; it asks that those individual rights and wants be balanced in the context of one's connection to the community and all its members. Importantly, the land ethic expands the definition of “community” to include not only humans, but all components of the land as well: soils, waters, flora and fauna.  


A land ethic*:

  • directs us to treat this “land community” with respect for mutual benefit of all not just the self;

  • advocates land use that does not create undue disturbances to or undermine the complex, balanced ecological systems of which humans are a part; 

  • reflects a conviction that the individual has responsibility for the health of land;

  • creates a mindset not just of conservation but also restoration of land health when it has been compromised by development.


(Important to note is that a land ethic cautions that conservation should not take place to the detriment of some subset of individuals, as all have a right to enjoy the land and to thrive and live in dignity on it, which is why we believe these concepts are fundamental to a housing affordability imperative.)


As we can see around us in East Hampton, today we are rather far away from these land ethic ideals. It's important to understand that a land ethic does not come easy; it does not just emerge spontaneously, fully formed. This can be especially true in areas dominated by extraordinary wealth, speculation, special interests or a majority of owners who visit their properties only intermittently.  


There are so many of us who remain disconnected from the natural resources of our surroundings and isolate from neighbors, full-time residents or those outside immediate social circles.  Again and again we hear people say they come here for the natural elements and the unique landscape of the East End -- they extol the beauty of our beaches and wax poetic about the “very special light.”  Yet, how many really engage with the breadth of our natural resources or are aware of the historical, but fading, array and abundance of our ecosystems?


A land ethic needs to evolve – it needs to be shaped purposely and intentionally by what Leopold referred to as “a thinking community” if it is to emerge and be sustained into the future for generations to come. 


The intent of Build.In.Kind/East Hampton is not to deride different priorities or individual wants. The purpose is to inspire and develop a land ethic mindset here in our Town by tapping into our practical, analytical and creative "thinking community," bringing together diverse perspectives and experiences -- to engage in thoughtful, productive dialogue. The vision of Build.In.Kind is to weave the threads of a land ethic into the fabric of our community, ensuring that these principles begin to guide our land use attitudes and policies, and are incorporated into our actual zoning code. 

(*Background source acknowledgment: The Aldo Leopold Foundation)

bottom of page