There has understandably been ongoing confusion about what the LHBA Restrictions and Covenants (R&Cs) proscribe and permit with respect to building on one’s property. The Board has obtained legal opinions and guidance on these matters. To help LHBA property owners, this Q&A has been developed to help explain the Restrictions and Covenants and what can and cannot be done on one’s property.
Note that this Q&A is provided to help in simpler format explain the R&Cs and their effect on buildings, structures, and setback provisions. However, the full and actual language of the R&Cs are always the controlling legal authority. This Q&A is intended as a unofficial helpful guide and does not take precedent over the R&Cs and all properties must comply with the actual R&Cs.
What does LHBA require of me if I plan to do construction or make changes to my home or other structures on my property?
According to the LHBA R&Cs, no building or other structure can be erected, or any changes made unless and until plans and specifications have been submitted to the LHBA Board and then approved in writing by the Board.
Such requirements as to changes include plans for grading or clearing of your property.
What can be built on my property?
Only a private single-family dwelling and one private garage.
In line with the limitation to a private single-family dwelling, no business of any kind is permitted.
What are the setback provisions for building on my property?
The setback provisions require that no building shall be within 40 feet of the line of any street, nor within 15 feet of the side line, nor within 20 feet of the rear line. For corner properties, one side of the building cannot be within 40 feet one of the street’s it fronts, and the other side of the building cannot be within 30 feet of the respective street.
Are the LHBA setback provisions the same as those of the East Hampton Town?
No. The LHBA setback provisions are not the same as the Town. The R&Cs require greater setback distances (i.e. more restrictive) than the Town setback provisions. The LHBA setback provisions if greater than the Town’s take precedent and are controlling.
Can I petition the Board to grant a variance to the Restrictions and Covenants and the setback provisions?
No. Legal opinions have affirmed that the R&Cs do not provide the Board with the authority to grant variances to the R&C and its setback provisions.
Well, then, can the Board or LHBA amend the R&Cs?
The R&Cs do not provide any amendment options. Thus, legal opinions have explained that we would need 100% vote of the LHBA community to change the R&Cs and not just a simple majority.
What about structures such as storage shed type “buildings”, swimming pools, patios, built-in barbecues and the like?
The Restrictions and Covenants do not specifically address whether such structures are deemed a “building” and if such structures must meet the LHBA setback provisions.
Based on legal opinions and discussions with attorneys, the Board will consider structures such as or similar to the aforementioned items not to be buildings subject to the limitation of one private single-family dwelling.
For setbacks, the Board has decided to defer to the Town Code for these types of structures and items.
Admittedly, this is a “grey” area and the Board and LHBA community reserve the right to further describe and proscribe rules for certain structures or items. For example, understandably, the size and amenities of a so-called “storage shed”, “pool house”, or the like could compel the Board or community to deem it a building subject to the limitations of the Restrictions and Covenants.
What about buildings and structures that have already been constructed or changed and are in violation of the R&Cs?
There are likely Statutes of Limitations that may come into play. Legal opinions have suggested they may be anywhere from 3 to 5 years. Thus, if such situations have existed and no one has complained, it is likely the building or structure will be permitted to stay.
It is recognized that there had been confusion or honest misunderstandings of the R&Cs in the past. However, as explained at the 2019 Spring General Meeting, after the LHBA Board received 2 similar legal opinions, the Board acknowledges that it does not have the authority to issue variances and therefore will not do so. And moving forward, when violations are observed or identified by LHBA members, and provided they are within the Statute of Limitations, the Board will seek to enforce the R&Cs.