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Coastal Living “Showhouse” Panned by Sag Harbor Village Board

Posted on 11 September 2013

By Kathryn G. Menu

Sag Harbor Village Trustee Ken O’Donnell and his family are subscribers to Coastal Living magazine, and on Tuesday night he said he would like nothing more than to see Sag Harbor Village featured in its pages, and not just as a candidate for “happiest” seaside community, as it was last summer.

However, O’Donnell’s caveat, and one shared by the rest of the village board, is that the village was not ready to trade a six-page summer spread in the lifestyle magazine at the detriment to residents in a neighborhood already home to magazine photo shoots, by allowing a Coastal Living “showhouse” to pop up on Glover Street next year.

On Tuesday night, the Sag Harbor Village Board officially panned plans proposed by Nick DeMarco of DeMarco Design and Development to partner with Coastal Living magazine for a showhouse at 93 Glover Street.

DeMarco and partner Michael Arena planned to partner with the magazine on the venture, which would have resulted in a Coastal Living summer feature, as well as a showhouse people would have been able to visit between late June through October.

While DeMarco originally estimated roughly 7,000 people would visit the residence over the course of five months, on Tuesday night he scaled that number back to 4,500, noting he had based those figures on a showhouse in Nashville, Tennessee.

“It will be 3,500 to 4,500 people over 120 days,” said DeMarco, noting that would be the equivalent of 40 to 60 people a day or what he said would equal that of a real estate open house.

DeMarco and Arena own the lot next door at 95 Glover Street, which is vacant, and planned to have all parking take place on that land.

The idea was floated at last month’s board meeting, with trustees, the building inspector and code enforcement officer all weighing in on the impact the proposal would have on residents. The greatest issue was whether or not this would essentially legalize a commercial activity in a residential neighborhood.

According to DeMarco, the showhouse would carry a $20 admission fee, although he would not see a penny. Ten thousand dollars would be given to a local charity, he said, with the remainder used to cover administrative costs, staffing, furniture and security. With between 3,500 and 4,000 people estimated to attend the showhouse, in total it would be expected to bring in between $70,000 and $90,000 over the course of those five months before the charitable contribution.

“It strikes me as being a commercial operation for 120 days or better,” said Mayor Brian Gilbride.

“I think it is certainly a commercial venture in a residential zone and it sets a terrible precedent,” said trustee Ed Deyermond.

“We get Coastal Living and I would love to see Sag Harbor in it, but it’s a slippery slope,” added O’Donnell, noting a showhouse in Laurel Hollow just came under fire by that village.

Laurel Hollow is currently seeking a restraining order in state Supreme Court in Mineola against the Designers’ Open House at Cedar Knolls arguing the venue showcases the work of interior designers and is therefore a commercial business. Organizers are seeking an injunction to stop the village from preventing them from showcasing the house, a 1930s Georgian-style mansion, on the market for $2.5 million.

“I understand,” said DeMarco. “When they approached me, I was honored.”

“We get it and we would love to see your house in it,” said O’Donnell, adding it was simply an issue of the home’s location.

Reprieve for Sag Harbor American Music Festival

The Sag Harbor American Music Festival was given a reprieve Tuesday night by the village board of trustees. The board reversed a decision made at a special session on August 29 to deny the festival use of the small roadway between Romany Kramoris Gallery and The American Hotel. The roadway, which runs between Main Street and Division Street, is proposed to feature three bands over the course of six hours on Saturday, September 28.

But the decision came with conditions and while was favored by a majority of the village board did not come with the approval of Mayor Gilbride — the lone dissenting vote in a deal to allow the concerts to be held.

Kelly Connaughton, president of the Sag Harbor Chamber of Commerce and executive director of the Sag Harbor American Music Festival, approached the board Tuesday night noting prior to the August 20 meeting they had already signed off on the festival hosting bands in the alley.

The festival, she noted, has already spent money on a stage and for musicians. While Connaughton said she had feelers out for other venues, no one had committed to allowing her to move the “Off Main Street” stage to their business or property.

Connaughton said while she originally had looked at tents, the plan for the alleyway had been scaled back to include risers.

“In my view it is six parking spaces and a roadway and in my view that should not be closed off,” said Gilbride.

Connaughton argued the festival would be “in and out” of the location, adding the event does not draw anywhere near the visitor numbers of a weekend like HarborFest, which takes all of Long Wharf, and its parking spaces.

Musician, resident and business owner Joe Lauro, added the festival brings business to Sag Harbor as the season is winding down. Patchogue, a larger community than Sag Harbor, shuts down its Main Street each week in the summer for its Alive at Five street festival.

“And that’s a big town,” said Lauro.

“This is not bands like Megadeath,” he added.

The timing of the board’s decision, added Connaughton, has left the festival with few options.

According to board members, part of the problem is when they approved the application it was only on the face of the first page, with trustees unaware about the stage proposed in the alleyway.

“My feeling is we erred because it wasn’t in our packet and I think that falls on us,” said O’Donnell. “Where I stand is we screwed up and I don’t want them to pay the price for it.”

Sag Harbor Village Police Chief Thomas Fabiano said he had his own concerns, wondering if the parking lot at Suffolk County National Bank was available.

“We close off Long Wharf for Bay Street and lose a ton of parking spaces,” said board member Robby Stein. “I think in this case we also messed up a little bit and if we had seen it, frankly Kelly, we would have brought up this issue sooner.”

Deyermond, concerned about ingress and egress like Gilbride, offered an olive branch to Connaughton, proposing if she can get an affidavit signed by Suffolk County National Bank that their lot will be open and available during the festival, music can be held in the alleyway with the coordination of Chief Fabiano and Superintendent of Public Works Dee Yardley.

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