By Kathryn G. Menu
Roland Roosa currently enjoys a water view from his Dartmouth Road, Sag Harbor residence. But Roosa expects that the view will be eclipsed if a Redwood Road neighbor gets approval to expand his home to include a second story. Earlier this month Roosa wondered what, if any, recourse he and his family have to remedy the situation, but was left with little hope of saving the water view even though he said it will likely diminish his property’s value.
At a Sag Harbor Village Harbor Committee meeting on December 13, Roosa and his wife raised the issue after attorney Dennis Downes, representing the owners of the Redwood Road home, presented the committee with plans to add a partial second story to the residence.
Downes was before the board for changes to a wetlands permit previously acquired by the property owners for a wetlands buffer to accommodate a swimming pool along with the expansion. Downes said native vegetation picked out by the property owner’s own consultant obstructed his client’s view of the water and asked that it be replaced with switch grass instead.
Harbor committee member Jeff Peters, acting as chairman in Bruce Tait’s absence, said that he would like to see Downes’ clients present a plan that included more diverse vegetation, rather than just switch grass. The landscaper, by profession, said he would be amenable to the inclusion of low lying blueberry bushes, or something that would diversify the native habitat.
“I would like to see if we can do a better job with vegetation,” said Peters. “Switch grass is fine, but it seems to me like beach with a little grass thrown in. It’s not native to me.”
Sag Harbor Village Environmental Consultant Rich Warren added that a number of permits have been issued for the property, and that while the property owner has sought to maintain their view to the water, they have also taken liberty in cutting tidal marsh vegetation in a protected portion of the property.
He added as the property slopes upwards from the shore, he was unsure how current plantings were obstructing the water view.
Downes offered to double the number of switch grass plantings, but Peters maintained he would like to see a diverse natural planting in the wetlands buffer.
“As long as it doesn’t grow high, I think they will be fine with that,” said Downes.
Warren said he would provide Downes with a list of low lying native plantings for the new plan.
Roosa, however, said as a resident he was waylaid by his neighbor’s plans to add the partial second story, noting that while he may not have financial recourse, with his property currently on the market, he was looking at a loss in property value as a result of the construction.
Warren said the addition was in compliance with village code and therefore is not subject to village review.
Harbor committee member Tom Halter wondered if the village’s Local Waterfront and Revitalization Plan (LWRP), which protects access to the village waterfront, would have any impact on the application.
“It’s our last possible view of the water,” said Roosa, noting in years since he purchased the home, other residences have constructed second stories blocking the view.
“It seems to me a non-waterfront person should have some rights to preserve their view,” agreed Halton.
Downes noted that property owners own the air rights above their land, making Roosa’s claim moot, reminding it is not a full second story, but a partial second story in the middle of the residence that his clients aim to build.
Warren suggested the committee reach out to Sag Harbor Village attorney Anthony Tohill before reaching a decision on the case.
“Let’s get some guidance,” he said.