All across the East End, municipalities are making an effort to incentivize, and in many cases require, homeowners to upgrade their septic systems to new, low-nitrogen systems, or I/A systems. East Hampton Town and Village are no exception to this trend. When planning a new build or a renovation project, a homeowner must consider whether the municipality requires an I/A system. These systems can cost $30,000 to $40,000 or more, and while there are rebates available from the county and the state, this is still a significant outlay on the part of the homeowner.

In East Hampton Town, a residential property owner must upgrade to an I/A system when building a brand-new structure where one previously did not exist, any “voluntary” replacement of an existing septic system, and when there is a “substantial expansion of existing structures”. (See East Hampton Town Code § 210-3-2.)

A substantial expansion of existing structures can occur by expanding the structure itself, increasing the value, or expanding the use of the structure. First, simply, there is a substantial expansion when an addition increases the gross floor area by 50% or more. Second, there is a substantial expansion when the cost of an addition or renovation exceeds 50% of the market value of the property prior to the addition or renovation. Third, there is a substantial expansion of the use when a property has previously had a substantial expansion, as defined above, and the property now has an increase of 25% or more of gross floor area or an addition or renovation that exceeds 25% of the market value of the property prior to the project. (See East Hampton Town Code § 255-1-20.)

While the definition of “substantial expansion” is confusing, the basic takeaway is that a homeowner needs to determine whether an I/A system is required when considering any project that is going to add to the gross floor area or cost at least 25% of the fair market value of the property and then plan accordingly.

In East Hampton Village, similar to the Town, a homeowner must upgrade to an I/A system when constructing a new residence or replacing a system. The Village also requires an upgrade when an addition increases the gross floor area by 25% or increases the number of bedrooms beyond what is already authorized by the Suffolk County Department of Health. Further, the Village requires an upgrade when a project removes or replaces an existing structure and exceeds 50% of the full replacement cost of the entire structure, as determined by the Building Inspector. (See East Hampton Village Code § 233-2 [B].)

Once again, while confusing, the homeowner should be aware of the requirement of an upgrade when considering any project that would add to the gross floor area of the property or costs more than 25% of the market value of the property.

Please contact our office if you have any questions regarding the applicability of the I/A system upgrade.

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.

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