WHEN IS A LAW TOO MUCH LAW???....A look At A Village Gone Haywire!

Real Estate Agent with Douglas Elliman Real Estate 30HA0800896

WHEN IS A LAW TOO MUCH LAW???....A look At A Village Gone Haywire With A New Zoning Law!

You all know me well enough to know that  I love the Village I live in, right? I love it more than any other place I have ever been and I am always on board with the way it is run (since the 18th Century, even!) especially when youA PERFECT EXAMPLE OF THE FAMOUS HEDGEROWS IN SOUTHAMPTON VILLAGE see the consistency that has been built into the architecture and the grounds of each residence in this lovely Village.

The way Southampton Village flawlessly operates with the massive crowds that arrive every Memorial Day through Labor Day is a reflection of the deep and abiding respect that the Government Officials have for this historical Village, and in turn the respect  on the part of the public for the local laws that make it run so smoothly.


But the Local Government here has gone one step too far! By listening to just a few complaining residents here, the Village has created a monster of a law that is infringing on the basic rights of every homeowner and the long standing neighborly activity of sharing the trimming of the famous Hedgerow found around every single property here.

ANOTHER EXAMPLE OF PRIVET USED FOR PRIVACYWhether it is the Estate Section with it's 3+  acre grounds or the tiny, .25ac. residential lots, or whether there is an evergreen arborvitae hedge or a classic privet hedge, there is a law now that began in 2011: 

"This law (contained in Chapter 41 of the Village Code) was only adopted in September, 2011.  It requires the owner of the "boundary line hedge" to take care of the entire hedge, which includes trimming the top and side facing the adjoining neighbor at least once a year, no later than July 31 of each year.  The one proviso is that the neighbor has to give the owner access to do the trimming"


Now, I have not seen any fist fights, nor have I been privy to the knowledge of any lawsuits yet---but you can bet that the problems are simmering under the surface and it won't take much for a real battle between neighbors to ensue!





For more than a century, privet hedges have been something that made the Hamptons famous, among other more impactful things such as the crowds that appear in the summer months and the famous faces seen on almost every PRIVET ON A MORE MODEST SCALEstreet in the Hamptons.



Famous books have been written about the Hampton's Hedges: "Philistines at the Hedgerow : Passion and Property in the Hamptons" as an example,  have made the famous hedges a well known part of living here in the Hamptons. The privacy created has added to the mystic of the storied estates and smaller residential Village lots...a perfect place for a tale such as the one told about Hamptons real estate in Philistines At The Hedgerow".




Everybody here has a hedge---and in the past, there was a "gentleman's agreement" as to the way the privet hedges were trimmed.

Trimming the hedgerows is a twice a year event, with 20-30 foot ladders, a trusty plumb-bob for straight lines and a good pair of hedge trimmers and the landscape workers were free to show their balance and their fine trimming skills--all at the beck and call of the homeowner who lives there. Evergreen arborvitae has become a popular hedgerow as well...and both  that and the privet need trimming at least twice a year.


Each neighbor on either side of the hedge row would automatically fall into line with the event that made those straight and even hedges the talk of the town.


Everybody wanted the best looking, sheered clean hedges and they all pitched in with little if any disagreement between neighbors.




Now, Southampton Village has come up with this new law, shown above, and all heck has broken loose.


One homeowner whom I know of, just bought his home at the end of 2012. He is having his hedges trimmed for the first time and is just now realizing the complication of getting not one but three neighbors to approve his workers to go on their grounds to spend an hour or so trimming all the hedges!!!


This all came about because a certain few complained that they had not planted the hedges and "they are not on my property" so the battle began. These homeowners did not want to "share" in the expense (costs can be quite high) of hedge trimming and not only stopped trimming the hedge, but they demanded that the "owner" be the one to trim and pay for both sides of the hedge.


It seems the individual whom I know, bought his house from a builder who built the house to spec and included the surrounding privet hedges for complete privacy. The other neighbors had nothing to do with planting the hedgerow and now the truth of how this complicated law works (or doesn't) is unfolding and he is one unhappy homeowner.

How will this all come down??? Will the Village re-evaluate their decision? Will homeowners adjust and just go ahead and comply or will they fight it??? I think we are going to see some interesting changes in Southampton Village, namely the hedgerows will end and fences will go up! There is already an issue with the deer fencing that is appearing on all Estate Section properties... How sad!


Do you know of any local laws that are creating havoc in your neck of the woods?






This entry hasn't been re-blogged:

Re-Blogged By Re-Blogged At
ActiveRain Community
New York Suffolk County Southampton Southampton Village
Active Rain Newbies
Posts to Localism
Real Estate Tomato Bloggers
new law
zoning laws
southampton village
trimming the hedges
privet hedge

Post a Comment
Spam prevention
Spam prevention
Show All Comments
Paula Hathaway, REALTOR, LBA
Douglas Elliman Real Estate - Southampton, NY
...The Most Informed Agent In The Hamptons!

Edward and Celia: That is the way it was before this law and only once in a while would someone raise an issue with his/her side of the hedge. One time my elderly neighbor did not trim her hedge and when I was in my yard once she told me she could not afford to trim hers would I mind doing it---well, at least she asked so I did that one time to help her out; she never asked me again and I think it was because she saw how cheap it made her look, esp. since I did it so willingly.

Bill: You can say that again! They have lost all common sense and as I suggested in another of my comments, there are more regulations coming, I am sure!

Betty: Here it is a Village and it is made u of year round and second homes so I can see that it is not an easy thing to manage---but we have managed for the last 200 years---can't see what the benefits would be but can certainly see what problems will arise.


Jul 05, 2013 02:52 AM #29
Bryan Robertson
Los Altos, CA

I'm sure this was driven by a select few people with an agenda that played the political engine to their favor.  With enough pushback, I'm sure more people will find it overbearing and it'll probably be repealed.

Jul 05, 2013 02:53 AM #30
Ed Silva
RE/MAX Professionals, CT 203-206-0754 - Waterbury, CT
Central CT Real Estate Broker Serving all equally

Sounds like someone that didn't want the hedge trimmed because of the expense had the ear of a politician and made just enough noise to get that ridiculous law implemented.

Jul 05, 2013 02:56 AM #31
Richie Alan Naggar
people first...then business Ran Right Realty - Riverside, CA
agent & author

Thank you

Jul 05, 2013 03:28 AM #32
Lisa Friedman
Great American Dream Realty - Essex, VT
29 Years of Real Estate Experience!

Creeping communism.

Something similar happened here where a person cut down an entire 50 foot section of 20 foot tall hedge to a four foot height and it is now a blemish and an eyesore because the look does not fit in with the rest of the neighborhood.  He is being cited for criminal charges.  I don't know the whole story, but glanced at it in the paper a while back.

Jul 05, 2013 04:11 AM #33
Myrl Jeffcoat
GreatWest Realty - Sacramento, CA
Greater Sacramento Real Estate Agent

Without a doubt there are communities which sometimes have governing bodies that over-reach.  I know of one such community that quickly comes to mind here in the Greater Sacrmento region.  However, it was established that way when developed, and people mostly knew what they were getting into when they bought.  The homeowner association is often seen as iron-fisted.  I have a friend living there, who attached a bird house on one of the fence posts, and was quickly cited.  Yet, when you drive through the area, it is obvious the community appearance is adding to the values of the area homes.  It's a double-edged sword!

Jul 05, 2013 04:18 AM #34
Michelle Francis
Tim Francis Realty LLC - Atlanta, GA
Realtor, Buckhead Atlanta Homes for Sale & Lease


Listening to a few loud folks is ruining a smart and good plan.  It's frustrating that the noisy can get what they think they want.  The problem is that good intentions can have awful consequences.  

Hope it gets repealed!

All the best, Michelle

Jul 05, 2013 04:26 AM #35
Chris and Dick Dovorany
Homes for Sale in Naples, Bonita Springs and Estero, Florida - Naples, FL
Broker/Associate at Premiere Plus Realty

Ahhhhhhh, what the rich must deal with.

Jul 05, 2013 04:59 AM #36
Morris Massre
Pembroke Pines, FL
Real Estate Instructor Broward County Florida

This looks like a nasty fight and I don't blame them either.  I actually like them, but can see how others don't.  Down here in Florida there are all kinds of rules for this crap and it's mostly in gated communities.

Jul 05, 2013 05:02 AM #37
Jay & Michelle Lieberman
Keller Williams World Class - Agoura Hills, CA
Creating Calm in the Buying and Selling Chaos

Sounds like another liberal idea making its way into law.  It is better sometimes to let neighbors figure it out together as best they can.  Making a law which from your post seems to require one homeowner to cut the whole hedge both sides is setting the stage for disputes.

Jul 05, 2013 05:32 AM #38
Bill Pohl
Tetra Homes, Inc. - Loveland, OH

This type of intrusion reminds me of the way HOAs in Florida behave....badly. Common sense and respect of neighbor's rights need to come back into fashion.

Jul 05, 2013 05:36 AM #39
Fernando Herboso - Broker for Maxus Realty Group
Maxus Realty Group - Broker 301-246-0001 - Gaithersburg, MD
301-246-0001 Serving Maryland, DC and Northern VA

HOA's . . 

can't live without them?

I saw a house with a horror statue of old bicycles 10 ft high on the front yard of a  house..

try living  next to them. .


Jul 05, 2013 05:57 AM #40
Paula Hathaway, REALTOR, LBA
Douglas Elliman Real Estate - Southampton, NY
...The Most Informed Agent In The Hamptons!

Bryan: You are so  right! I think the powers that be are easily brought into a fight like this and therefore we can look forward to more...unfortunately

Ed: That's exactly right...and it has happened before successfully so  there is a security in what they have done.

Richie: You are welcome! :)

Lisa: that has happened here as well--never a good thing to do!

Meryl: You are right--it is a double edged sword that keeps cutting until it gets dropped or changed...it hurts the neighborhood feeling of the Village!


Jul 05, 2013 06:37 AM #41
Tamra Lee Ulmer
Arizona Resource Realty - Payson, AZ
FORCE~NRBA ~ Over 1000 REO Assets SOLD!

It's never good if a Law can cause an unpeaceful neighborhood.

Jul 05, 2013 07:12 AM #42
Paula Hathaway, REALTOR, LBA
Douglas Elliman Real Estate - Southampton, NY
...The Most Informed Agent In The Hamptons!

Michelle: I do too---the only way to keep a disaster from unfolding is to repeal it but I doubt that will happen.

Chris and Dick: There is a big misconception about the Hamptons and that is that everybody is rich---not so. The larger part of the population are workers and local families, descendants of the original settlers of Long Island--that is the only reason they are still here---this is where they work. They own the small businesses that keep things running or they clean houses, mow lawns, clean pools, build houses, etc.,etc., and all belong to the working class. The wealthy numbers are at most 1/3 of what the population here is and they are here in the summer months only.

Morris: Well this is a gated community of sorts but there are 4 quadrant s of the Village with two being all working-class, the third being comfortable locals (quickly changing now because of it's proximity to the ocean and the shops etc.)The fourth quadrant of the Village is the Original Estate Section and this is where most of the ocean front houses are located too. The third quadrant is in the throws of becoming the "New" Estate Section with the ocean and Gin Lane crowning  the Southern end.

Jul 05, 2013 08:15 AM #43
Paula Hathaway, REALTOR, LBA
Douglas Elliman Real Estate - Southampton, NY
...The Most Informed Agent In The Hamptons!

Jay and Michelle: Well there never was a problem before--just an infrequent dispute that was settled by the neighbors involved. It puzzles me why this has become an issue--I do know that there are more and more disputes now that the law has been in place.

Bill: As long as there is a big Government, there will be intrusion of the Government in private matters., IMHO...

Fernando: I know what you mean---when I first moved to the Village in the 90's there was a big old house owned by a very famous artist---he had a huge metal human leg with a high heel on the foot--it sat in the front yard for years and in the last 10years the law came into being that required that it be removed and now it is in someone's back yard in Sag Harbor!

Tamra:  agree with you....no law should be that intrusive as to cause neighbors to rise up against each other!

Jul 05, 2013 09:09 AM #44
Melissa Zavala
Broadpoint Properties - Escondido, CA
Broker, Escondido Real Estate, San Diego County

Have you ever read "Atlas Shrugged"? You may be on the road to a situation like the one in that book if the laws get too ridiculous.

Jul 05, 2013 09:47 AM #45
Paula Hathaway, REALTOR, LBA
Douglas Elliman Real Estate - Southampton, NY
...The Most Informed Agent In The Hamptons!

Melissa: Yes I read "Atlas Shrugged" when I was in my 20's. I first read  "We The Living"...which frightened me so much I thought we were all heading in that direction at the time--it was too real. However both books are equally scary and today even more likely to take place---early Soviet Russia was our nightmare and Ayn Rand was so prolific in her writing about it that she became my favorite author of all time---I always looked at her as a profit of sorts and she was able to write in such a way as to awaken in Americans the idea that we too could end up like that should we lose sight of what we have. Then  I read the Fountainhead and fell in love with her idealistic way of telling her stories---The Fountainhead was more Western and was about architects---Fabulous story too. Atlas Shrugged is the one that I remember like I read it yesterday--it still gives me cold chills---and nightmares!

Jul 05, 2013 10:11 AM #46
Jimmy Faulkner
Florida. Homes Realty & Mortgage - Wantagh, NY
The Best Of St. Augustine

Paula: America is screaming for a liberal lifestyle with the government doing everything for them. Well you have given government more control and it is called nazism. NO I am not being dramatic just look around and see for yourself. We are in trouble and hedges is the least of it. I grew up in Port Jeff and had been to the Hamptons a lot. Government control will destroy this country and the Constituion is not old hat as many politicians now proclaim.

Jul 05, 2013 11:00 AM #47
Paula Hathaway, REALTOR, LBA
Douglas Elliman Real Estate - Southampton, NY
...The Most Informed Agent In The Hamptons!

Jimmy: Why do I feel like you are yelling at me? I know you probably are not but I know there is a lot of anger simmering out there and hedgerows really are the least of it! ...But think of it symbolically (a Nazi favorite thing to do by the way!) Hedges are a protection--they are security of sorts but more than anything, they are protective of privacy. Now, what is the one thing that each and every one of us are worrying about right now? You are right!...Privacy is the one thing that we do not have anymore! So, does it surprise anyone out there that there is desperation with regard to any messing around with our privacy??? The hedges are just a tiny part of what we are really upset about, collectively. Something just tells me that if this is left to simmer, if the intrusion on our existence is messed with in any way any more, then we are lost....and that makes me very fearful. I always look at the Hamptons, especially Southampton Village as the microcosm of the macrocosm and if you  read my comment to Chris and Dick in #43 you may have a clue why. First of all I reacted to the "Rich" tag that was made an issue of in that comment and I gave the societal  breakdown of this Village so all of you can really see and maybe understand why I feel I can make an observation that can make sense to all Americans from most communities. We are a minute example of the larger picture and I can see that the hedges and the authoritarian attitude by our minute government is already changing things here. 

Jul 05, 2013 11:25 AM #48
Post a Comment
Spam prevention
Show All Comments

What's the reason you're reporting this blog entry?

Are you sure you want to report this blog entry as spam?


Paula Hathaway, REALTOR, LBA

...The Most Informed Agent In The Hamptons!
Ask Me About Luxury Townhouses In Southampton Village
Spam prevention

Additional Information