Dispute Over Roadway Tops Agenda

Posted on 18 March 2010

After close to an hour of discussion on three different variances for the construction of a summer home for Matthew and Sarah Hastings on Notre Dame Road, the Sag Harbor Zoning Board of Appeals tabled the application after learning a dispute over a sliver of adjacent property was ongoing with the Sag Harbor Board of Trustees. The outcome could affect the Hastings case with the zoning board.

For several months, the Hastings’ attorney Tim McCully has argued to the village board that the Hastings’ always believed the sliver was their property’s driveway because the previous owner had used it as such when it was sold to the family last year. More importantly, McCully believes the road was never intended to be part of Notre Dame Road, as it is less than half the size of surrounding roads and is not named in the original sale.

Mayor Brian Gilbride has responded that the village attorney is looking into the matter, and that he does believe it may be village-owned property. Trustee Tiffany Scarlato also noted, during a December board meeting that if it is village property it should be left public under the Local Waterfront Revitalization Plan (LWRP), which demands the village protect and encourage access to the waterfront.

In front of the zoning board of appeals, the Hastings were seeking the demolition of their existing home and construction of a 2500 square-foot home, which would be roughly 1000 square feet larger than the current residence. The Hastings are asking the zoning board if their new home can be 23-feet to their rear lot line, when the village code demands 35-feet, a variance to construct the house 15.5-feet to the rear lot line when the code asks for 30-feet and for a new wastewater system 24-feet from a wetland boundary when the zoning code asks for 100-feet.

Susanna Herman of En Consultants has argued the existing sanitary system is sitting in groundwater, and its replacement will be a benefit to the environment. She also said the neighborhood boasts similarly sized homes and that a mold problem in the current residence concerns the Hastings as they have four young children.

Board members initially expressed concern for the size of the new house on the parcel, including chairman Gayle Pickering.

“I don’t know,” she said. “I think it is too big for the property.”

But the board stopped short of rendering a determination after learning of the Hastings dispute from McCully, who said he believes the developer specifically excluded the property from sale to the village, according to a 1932 survey. He has also received a quick claim deed from Stahl’s grandchildren and is awaiting a title,” he said.

McCully added that in the meantime a bulldozer has cleared the parcel despite the ongoing debate.

Herman said if they did retain ownership, it could enable them to shift their project around and reduce the need for relief from the zoning board, as it would give them an additional 23-feet of width to the property.

The board agreed that the application should be tabled until next month and asked McCully for an update then.

In other zoning board news, Ira and Perri Gurfein’s request for a re-hearing with the zoning board of appeals was denied, with Michael Bromberg voting against the measure.

The Gurfein’s sued the village in March of 2009 after the zoning board of appeals failed to approve a parking variance they needed after adding a second story commercial space to their Bay Street business, The Style Bar, without a building permit in 2000. The case is pending.

According to village attorney Anthony Tohill, village code would require present members of the board to be unanimous in their decision on whether to re-hear the case or not.

“I have no particular wish to re-open it,” said Anton Hagen.

Michael Bromberg said while he would not necessarily grant their application, he would consider hearing new information in the case.

“I would be inclined to wait for the Supreme Court to make their decision,” said Hagen.

Hagen, Pickering and Benedetta Duebel voted against re-hearing the application, with Bromberg voting against the action.

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