By Kathryn G. Menu
While Harbor Heights Gas Station owner John Leonard is hoping to bring a little convenience to Sag Harbor residents with a proposed “country market” included in the re-development of the decades-old gas station, getting approval for the project appears like it will be anything but easy.
On Tuesday night, at a Sag Harbor Village Planning Board meeting work session, the board discussed a number of issues building inspector Tim Platt has raised with initial plans for the project, as well as a number of outstanding questions that could change the design and scope of the development.
Leonard has proposed to demolish the existing 1,874 square foot gas station on Route 114 and replace it with a new 1,842 square foot building. Within the gas station, Leonard proposes a 600 square-foot “country market.” Gas pumps, now on Route 114, are proposed to be moved to the north side of the property and covered with a standard gas station canopy, and would boast an additional pump.
The project would also expand the Sag Harbor Service Station, a business owned by Gregory Miller, from 1,245 square feet to 1,595 square feet, and would also include landscaping and a curb cut to create one entry and exit to the station.
In a January 24 memo, building inspector Tim Platt said the size of the convenience store within the station does not include spaces in refrigeration units or candy racks located below the counter. That would put the size of the store over the maximum 600-square-feet allowed for a convenience store in the village code.
“In talking with John today, his concern is the store gets so small if you have to include the refrigeration units, which are about three-feet deep,” said attorney Dennis Downes. “It really cuts into the display area and we would probably have to ask the zoning board of appeals for a variance or a new determination.”
The project already will need two variances from the ZBA — to maintain its setback to Route 114, and for a side yard setback to a neighboring property.
Downes said he is also awaiting a determination on whether or not the new canopies are considered a part of the gas station, or are viewed as accessory — an issue Platt previously raised as a question. If they are viewed as accessory, that will require a height variance from the ZBA.
“We need to come to consensus on some of these issues,” said Downes.
Sag Harbor Village environmental planning consultant Rich Warren also wondered aloud if the project would constitute the expansion of a non-conforming use, for both the gas station and the service station, and asked Platt make a judgment on that issue before the project moves forward.
Warren also added that because the project proposed 26 parking spaces, it will likely need to go through State Environmental Quality Review (SEQR) by the village.
“I’ve gone up there and they have the rendering inside and I walked around to envision the layout, which was helpful,” said board member Greg Ferraris. “It’s a huge improvement, safety wise, up front, and I think we just have to get past some of these other minor issues.”
JJML Clears Environmental Review
After over a year of reviewing plans for a 7,725 square-foot modern addition to the historic John Jermain Memorial Library in Sag Harbor, the village planning board signed off on its environmental review of the plan Tuesday night, stating it will not have a significant adverse impact on neighbors, or the village at large.
This paves the way for the library to seek approvals from the village’s historic preservation and architectural review board (ARB) as well as a number of variances it needs from the ZBA. According to JJML director Catherine Creedon, because of the village calendar, the library has missed the deadline for the February ZBA meeting and the project will likely be presented at its March meeting. She added the project will not likely be presented to the ARB until after it is viewed by the ZBA.
It will also open the door to voter-approved $10 million in funding for the project. In August of 2009, over 80 percent of voters who turned out for a public referendum on the project approved the funding, but the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York — a lending agency for public projects — will not release those funds until any proposal has cleared its environmental review.
The library project will be back before the planning board for site plan approval in February, which Warren said could be wrapped up if all goes smoothly by March.