Access to Waterfront an Issue on Notre Dame Road

Posted on 18 June 2010

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Discussion continued at the Sag Harbor Village Board meeting on Tuesday, June 8 over whether or not a strip of waterfront land off Notre Dame Road in Sag Harbor belongs to adjacent property owners Sarah and Mathew Hastings or was meant to provide village residents access to the water.

Despite the ongoing nature of the issue, discourse between the trustees and Tim McCully, the Hastings’ attorney, was undeniably heated.

McCully appeared in front of the board on the Hastings’ behalf and urged a speedy resolution of the issue so that the Hastings could proceed with their building plans to demolish their current residence and rebuild a new structure on the property, using the aforementioned strip.

Whether or not the Hastings can use this strip of land changes the number of variances they will need for the new construction, and the placement of their new septic system.

To this the trustees responded that they would protect citizens’ right to access the waterfront “vigorously,” if necessary. As Trustee Tiffany Scarlato noted in a previous meeting, if the land is village property it should rightfully be left public under the Local Water Revitalization Plan (LWRP), which requires the village to protect and encourage access to the waterfront.

Village trustees have also maintained that while McCully was able to obtain a quit claim deed to the sliver of land from descendents of the original property owner, it is the village’s position that the property was always meant to be an access to water, similar to other access points in the neighborhood.

It was not only in the Sag Harbor Municipal Building that the topic was debated, however. Mayor Brian Gilbride noted the village has received word from a neighbor concerned with the fact that the Hastings have retained the deed to the sliver of land and are seeking ownership of the parcel. This was the first correspondence from neighbors supporting the village’s decision to fight the Hastings to keep the property open for public access.

The letter, from Victor Behoriam and Darlene Miller, states that allowing the Hastings to continue with their plans using the strip of land would “set a precedent that future boards of trustees may be unable to afford to resist.” Behoriam and Miller’s letter describes the land as rightfully belonging to “taxpaying landowners in this village” who should all share equal access to the waterfront, and confidently offers to gather the voices of other residents from the area who would also “vociferously oppose this request.”

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