Government Briefs: 1-20-11

Posted on 19 January 2011

Burke Building Almost Legal
By Kathryn G. Menu

A historic Division Street, Sag Harbor residence owned by Edward Burke, Jr. and his family will likely be converted into five legal office spaces next month following a straw poll Tuesday by members of the Sag Harbor Village Zoning Board of Appeals.

The Burke building, as it has come to be known, is located at 39 Division Street, and for over a year now has housed five office spaces after the Burke family restored the residence’s historic exterior and converted rooms into several office spaces. The work, however, was done prior to the Burke’s gaining approval for the change through the village planning board and zoning board of appeals.

This fall, the planning board indicated it was comfortable with the change of use, as the village’s new code zones the parcel in the newly created office district. That left the matter in the hands of the zoning board, which had several variances it had to rule on before that change could become official.

On Tuesday night, the Burke’s attorney Brian Desesa presented the zoning board with a reconfigured parking plan, as well as information on the other four parcels in the village’s office district, noting ultimately there are only three buildings within that district that can take advantage of the new district. The fourth parcel is the village parking lot off Division Street.

Also at issue was the size of each office, which was one of the variances needed for the change to become legal. While village code requires each office to be 800 square feet or larger, all of the office spaces in the Burke building fall far below that. Desesa argued that was in keeping with the integrity of the historic residence’s floor plan, which the Burke family maintained when it constructed the renovation.

Village attorney Anthony Tohill added that the office uses within the building, currently for a part-time Sag Harbor attorney and a healthcare agency, are passive uses, with many tenants keeping part time hours.

At next month’s meeting, Tohill is expected to present the board with a resolution for approval. The Burke building will then come before the village planning board once more for final approval on the change of use.

In other zoning board news, Michael and Joan Brosnan of 53 Franklin Avenue were approved for a 290 square foot, one-bedroom addition to their 712 square-foot home.

Michael Brosnan said he and his wife moved their twins to Sag Harbor from Montauk to take advantage of the Sag Harbor School District, but that the twins had outgrown their small bedroom.

He added the couple loved the Sag Harbor look of their home and tried to design the addition in keeping with the small Cape-style cottage.

“If we don’t become pregnant again, I won’t come before this board again,” he joked.

Virginia and Kenneth Ludacer were also granted variances to construct a two-and-a-half story addition on their home at 132 Jermain Avenue. According to architect Meryl Kramer, the home will be rehabilitated, as it is currently in poor shape, its foundation literally falling apart. In addition a back bedroom and deck will be added, while a shed in the backyard will be removed.

The village’s historic preservation and architectural review board has already supported the addition.

Jean Held also received a variance from the village pyramid law to expand her Franklin Avenue home by 832 square-feet, an expansion supported by all of Held’s neighbors.

Lastly, the application to legalize the Larry Rivers “Legs” sculpture at Ruth Vered and Janet Lehr’s Madison Street home was tabled at the request of Clayton Munsey. Munsey has represented the couple in their quest to keep the “Legs” despite it being considered an accessory structure, and illegal, under the village code. He said he was unaware it would be on the board’s January calendar.

The board granted the stay, but board chairwoman Gayle Pickering said she did not want to see adjournment as a “stalling tactic” in this case. She asked the building department to inform Munsey the matter would be heard at the board’s February 15 meeting.

Ialacci’s Benefits Restored

After having his village health insurance dropped in December, former village police chief Joseph Ialacci and his wife Nancy had their benefits restored last week by the Sag Harbor Village Board of Trustees.

The board dropped Ialacci’s village insurance on December 30 after they said he racked up over $70,000 in healthcare costs to the plan when Ialacci’s Medicare coverage should have been used as his primary insurance.

Sag Harbor Village Mayor Brian Gilbride said several attempts to work out a payment schedule with Ialacci failed, resulting in the termination, although Ialacci’s attorney, John Bracken said his client was working with the Social Security Administration, hospitals and doctors to reimburse the monies to the village.

According to Bracken, the insurance coverage was restored retroactively to the December 30 date it was rescinded. Last week, Bracken informed the board that if the insurance was not reinstated by January 14, the village could be looking at a lawsuit.

On Monday, Gilbride said the village was doing its due diligence in restoring the coverage, but that village attorneys were still looking into the matter. One issue they are exploring is whether or not the current board must legally uphold Ialacci’s personnel contract, which guarantees him coverage after retirement and was drafted by a previous board of trustees.

Concert Debate Rages On

In East Hampton Town, some Amagansett residents continue to fuel a debate over town board approval for a two-and-a-half day concert at Ocean View Farms in Amagansett, August 12 through 14.

On December 21, Sag Harbor residents Chris Jones and Bill Collage were approved by the East Hampton Town Board for a mass gathering permit to allow the MTK: Music to Know Summer Music Festival at the farm, located on Route 27 just outside downtown Amagansett.

The concert is proposed to feature two stages, 20 bands and vending areas for local businesses and restaurants. Jones and Collage said they hope to sell a maximum of 9,500 tickets to the weekend event.

Since then, a group of Amagansett residents, including members of that hamlet’s citizens advisory committee and BookHampton owner Charline Spektor have criticized the board’s decision and mounted a campaign to get the concert’s mass gathering permit rescinded.

This week, Spektor sent members of BookHampton’s e-mail list serve a letter expressing her concerns and urging residents to send letters to the town board, as well as attend a meeting tonight, Thursday, January 20.

In the letter she noted Collage and Jones have no prior experience in production or festival management, and questioned the charitable donation Collage and Jones have promised local food pantries and not-for-profits. Further, she questioned the “dangerous aspect” of a potential 20,000 concert attendees coming to Amagansett without any place to stay, or accommodations for “food, sanitary, emergency and other related issues.”

“The allegations made by Charline Spektor and distributed under her Bookhampton banner, questioning MTK festival’s commitment to donating $100,000 to local charities are completely baseless, disingenuous and frankly, mean-spirited,” replied Jones in a statement. “MTK has employed an Outreach Director who has already met with several local charities to discuss details of their inclusion and this process continues with scores of other groups, as we identify those to include. Representatives from these charities are excited and appreciative of these efforts. There never has been, nor will be any question of reneging these commitments. Further allegations from Ms Spektor concerning details of the festival, from the number of attendees to the level of professionalism and experience of the event production are also without merit. We encourage everyone who supports music and this two-day event which celebrates music, to attend a meeting this Thursday at 7 p.m. at East Hampton Town Hall.”

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