The East Hampton Town Code provides regulations that apply to fence heights in both Residential and Commercially zoned properties within the Town of East Hampton. The laws apply not only to fences, but also gates (pedestrian and driveway), pillars, walls and berms.

Pursuant to §255-11-38, a fence, gate, pillar, wall or berm can be constructed in the “required front yard” of a Residential lot at a height up to and including four (4) feet tall, without a building permit, and therefore without the review/approval of the Architectural Review Board (“ARB”). For a fence, gate, pillar, wall or berm in the front yard taller than 4 feet, a property owner or owner’s agent must apply to the Town for approval from the ARB prior to receiving a building permit for construction of such structure. The ARB has the authority to allow a fence, gate, pillar, wall or berm up to six feet tall in such front yard.

The regulations for a fence, gate, pillar, wall or berm in a side or back yard of a Residential lot are similar, except that the heights are increased to allow the structure up to six (6) feet in height before triggering need for the ARB’s approval. In the side and back yards, the ARB has the authority under the Code to allow a fence, gate, pillar, wall or berm up to eight feet tall in such yard.

For Commercial properties, the Code requires the ARB’s approval for any fence, gate, pillar, wall or berm for which Site Plan approval (from the Planning Board) is also required.

The Code also provides what is unofficially referred to as the “deer fence exemption” in §255-11-38(B)(1)-(6), wherein if a fence and corresponding gate meets all of the criteria outlined in that Section, ARB’s approval is not required.

This Code section is often misunderstood, and because there are a multitude of factors to consider when applying the section to your specific property, it is often misapplied.

Some things to consider: what is your “required front yard”? At what point on your lot does your front yard become your side yard? What happens if your property is a flag lot? What happens if your lot is on a corner of two streets? Does it matter if your street(s) are private? What happens if you have a waterfront lot? Do you have scenic or conservation easements on your property? Does your project need Site Plan?

If you have questions on how this Code section applies to your property, if your fence, gate, pillar, wall or berm needs to legalized, pre or post construction, or if you’re looking to buy or sell a property that has a fence, gate, pillar, wall or berm that needs to be legalized so that the CO can issue and the deal can close, please reach out to our office at (631) 527 5103.

PLEASE NOTE that this article is not intended to create an attorney-client relationship and the information within does not substitute for a consultation with an attorney.

Copyright 2021 Crouch McWilliams Law Group, PLLC