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Catalog of Concerns Over Condos

Posted on 26 September 2008

It was as if Jeff Bragman said it all.

Despite the fact that over 100 people gathered at the planning board meeting in Sag Harbor on Tuesday night to discuss concerns about a proposed 18-unit condo project on the village’s waterfront, once Bragman listed dozens of his group’s concerns, only a handful of other residents seemed to have something to add.



Bragman, an attorney, represented Save Our Waterfront, a sister organization of Save Sag Harbor, which formed in opposition to the proposed development of 1, 3 and 5 Ferry Road. The parcels currently house the former Diner building and the old Remkus fishing station and are situated between 7-Eleven and the Sag Harbor-North Haven Bridge.


Michael Maidan is one of a group of developers in East End Ventures, a limited liability corporation, seeking to demolish the current buildings on the property and develop a 43,040 square-foot, three-story, 18-unit project with 18 accessory boat slips, 36 on-site parking spaces and an in-ground pool.


The project has not been without its share of controversy as public opposition formed to the development. Several residents sought to have the Town of Southampton use Community Preservation Funds (CPF) to purchase the property for a public park. The developers were not willing sellers, however, a critical aspect of any CPF purchase.

The scale of the project and its effect on vistas in Sag Harbor have been debated in the village — in board meetings and in community forums — for over two years now.


The Sag Harbor planning board has already decided the project has the potential to have a significant adverse environmental impact on the village, but on Tuesday it was the residents’ turn to express their concerns and entreat the board on issues they feel should be given a hard look.


Sag Harbor Village environmental planning consultant Rich Warren opened the meeting by stressing the forum was not for people seeking to talk about the merits of the project, or lack thereof, but specifically to address potential impacts. Public hearings will be held on the project as a whole at a future date.


“We are not here to burden the process because sometimes if you burden the process you can’t see the forest through the trees,” cautioned Warren.


Planning board chairman Neil Slevin also asked the crowd to refrain from repeating the same concerns over and over again.


“We know why you are here,” said Slevin. “We know everyone is concerned the right thing be done.”


Bragman began the evening by presenting a litany of concerns in rapid-fire speed, prompting Warren at one point to ask the attorney if he would supply the list in writing, as he was having trouble keeping up.


Bragman’s list included whether submitted site plans and surveys are accurate, and asked for more details on the ownership of an abandoned, adjacent roadway and underwater lands next to the parcel, as well as whether lot coverage calculations are correct. He also asked for new surveys showing navigational channels— given the dock portion of the application and the potential impacts that arise from that portion of the application alone — and about the impacts on shellfish and marine life and whether the applicant should include a pump-out station for its marina facilities.


Of particular concern, he noted, is ensuring public access to lands directly adjacent to the property will not interrupted; but as the village’s Local Waterfront Revitalization Plan (LWRP) mandates, is instead fostered by any development on the waterfront.


Bragman also asked for an assessment of natural features, noting that the project will involve “a massive manmade alteration of the shoreline area,” in a village that has an LWRP that asks wetlands be restored, which he would like to see the applicant tackle as a part of the project.


“I call this plan a fortress plan,” said Bragman, stating the project proposes 500 linear feet of retaining wall, the effects of which should also be looked at closely.


 “This site, if you think about it, is the jewel in the crown of Sag Harbor,” said Bragman, who noted that in addition to a comprehensive view-shed study, his group would like to see a detailed architectural explanation for what they see as a design closely resembling “a mid-island garden apartment.”


“There should be a really clear, crisp narrative about why this design minimizes visual impacts,” said Bragman. He also asked for mitigation plans including alternatives that revise the design of the building, lower the height, lower the density, create a more compact footprint and even relocate the building.


He also asked the board demand information on water quality, runoff, flooding and sewer capacity.


“I would like to see a map that has some wetland compliance on it,” said Bragman, noting a proposed pool and other structures look like they may be within 25 feet of wetlands. Current village code asks for a minimum buffer of 25 feet to wetlands.


Resident Pierce Hance, a former mayor of Sag Harbor, also touched on the importance of the LWRP in the board’s review of this project.


“It is one of the major documents we have to control and manage change in our village,” said Hance.


Hance noted one policy states project designs should be consistent – in terms of mass and scale – with the rest of the village. The LWRP also has policies that mandate the village provide visual access to coast lands and protect visual access points. The encouragement of new scenic views through development and re-development is encouraged, and the village is charged with protecting and improving the visual quality of Sag Harbor in the LWRP, noted Hance.


The view of Sag Harbor from the Sag Harbor-North Haven Bridge is included in the LWRP as a visual perspective showing the characteristics of the village that should be protected, added Hance with flourish, displaying the image to an applauding audience.


Nathiel Egosi, whose family owns the Sag Harbor Inn, also expressed reservations about the development, questioning the effect of the three-story building on marine life.


Egosi also questioned what the impact of adding a new, residential building to the commercial area would be, as well as what contingencies are in place should the units not sell in a troubled economy.


“Vacant and unsold condos would bring an unsettled feeling to our tourist trade,” said Egosi.


The Group for the East End also submitted a letter to the board, stating their biggest concern is the sheer scale of the project, as well as the impact on community character as a whole. Ownership and public access, runoff, the effects of dredging and sewage capacity are also on the Group’s radar as potentially posing problems.


East End Ventures already submitted a draft scope on September 4, meaning the board has until November 4 to adopt its final list of issues. To that end, the board will meet on October 16 at 6:30 p.m. for a special work session.



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