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Charting the Right Course

Posted on 11 July 2008

While we are not sure it will save Sag Harbor, we have become increasingly convinced over the course of the last two months that the Village of Sag Harbor is moving in the right direction with its revision of the zoning code.

To say a code revision in Sag Harbor is unnecessary is frankly unreasonable. This village, from a zoning and planning standpoint, has essentially been the wild, wild West of the East End for far too long. While this may have been acceptable as we, the “un-Hampton,” avoided the same development pressures our neighboring downtowns faced, Sag Harbor can no longer cling to that innocence as development reached a fever pitch seemingly overnight. To continue to operate with an antiquated code would be unfair to the many residents and property owners who cherish and care for this village, as it opens the door for unsavory development by those who see dollar signs in our downtown instead of a community.

To say we were initially concerned with the draft code is more than accurate, as we, like many struggled to truly grasp and understand the legalese in the hefty tome and hoped what we would find is a balance between restriction and protection. What we did not want to see was a village attempting to genetically engineer Sag Harbor into what would become a Disneyfied version of itself 20 years down the road.

Since May, the village has made a number of concessions after hearing, and considering, the concerns of village residents and business owners. This includes shrinking an office district that we felt was initially too large, and providing more reasonable relief for building owners seeking a change of use, to name just two of a number of revisions. However what the village did not do is alter its goals — namely the preservation of our unique and successful downtown and to implement affordable housing — as the evolution of this code has occurred. For finding a difficult balance they should be commended.

While it is impossible to ensure everyone walks away with everything they want in this code revision, if what we have seen as a productive process continues on its current course, we at least believe it will be something we can all be proud of. 

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