East Hampton, NY: Planning that includes a coastal erosion overlay district

Jennie Hoffman Rachel M. Gregg
Posted on: 2/16/2017 - Updated on: 3/02/2020

Posted by

Rachel Gregg

Project Summary

East Hampton, on Long Island, New York, is both a vacation destination and home to a strong year-round community with its early economic roots in agriculture, fishing, and shellfishing. Development pressure and population growth has caused some degradation of coastal resources, and in 1999 the Town enacted a Local Waterfront Revitalization Program (LWRP) to protect and promote waterfront resources. The LWRP was consciously developed through a strong community consensus process resulting in an action plan designed to be flexible to future alterations in the coastline. The LWRP’s topical sections, covering everything from development, commercial fishing and agriculture to visual resources, air quality, and water quality and quantity, include an Inventory and Analysis segment as well as a Policy segment. There are also sections on local laws implementing LWRP policies, and detailed descriptions of proposed projects and activities in support of the LWRP that are not legal or regulatory in nature. Examples of proposed projects include coastal erosion monitoring, storminess history and statistical modeling, sea level rise modeling, and public education. Sea level rise, erosion, and changes in storm frequency and severity are discussed throughout the document. The Town updated its Comprehensive Plan in 2005, and incorporated the LWRP as its coastal management component. 

In 2007, in preparation for submitting the program to the State for approval, the Town Board adopted a Local Erosion Law to implement the Coastal Erosion recommendations of the LWRP. This law creates a Coastal Erosion Overlay District to regulate projects designed to control coastal flooding and erosion. Concerned by historic loss of beach area due to unregulated construction of erosion control structures, Overlay District regulations establish rules and standards for erosion control structures and projects based on four zones defined by features, characteristics, and exposure to storms. With exceptions for emergencies and minor maintenance, construction of new erosion control structures is banned in three of the four zones, and alterations are only permitted when they result in decreased length or width, or complete removal. Policy 12 requires that planners protect natural buffers such as beaches, dunes, and bluffs to minimize the impacts of coastal flooding and erosion; and Policy 13 requires that the development or retrofitting of coastal armoring structures must have a strong likelihood of controlling erosion for at least thirty years.


Hoffman, J. & R.M. Gregg. 2017. East Hampton, NY: Planning that includes a coastal erosion overlay district. Summary of a project of the Town of East Hampton. Retrieved from CAKE: www.cakex.org/case-studies/east-hampton-ny-planning-includes-coastal-er… (Last updated February 2017)

Affiliated Organizations

The Town of East Hampton is located in Suffolk County, New York, at the eastern end of the South Shore of Long Island.


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