Harbor Committee Up in Air at Sag Harbor Reorganizational Meeting

Posted on 09 July 2014


Trustees Robby Stein and Sandra Schroeder are sworn in by Sag Harbor Village Clerk Beth Kamper on Monday. Photo by Stephen J. Kotz.

By Stephen J. Kotz

It was a bit reminiscent of the “Who’s on First?” skit when the Sag Harbor Village Board of Trustees held is annual reorganizational meeting on Monday.

The normally routine matter of appointing members to various regulatory boards left village board members, members of the boards themselves and the public confused.

The trouble started when the board discussed appointments to the Harbor Committee. A resolution on the agenda listed current member Stephen Clarke Jr., Bay Burger restaurant owner Joseph Tremblay and John Shaka of Save Sag Harbor as potential appointees to the committee, which oversees the approval of wetlands permits and compliance with the village’s Local Waterfront Revitalization Plan (LWRP).

When Mayor Brian Gilbride said that the term of the committee’s chairman, Bruce Tait, had expired, fellow board members asked whether he meant his term as chairman or his term on the board.

Mr. Gilbride did not have the answer to that and neither did Village Clerk Beth Kamper, who said she would have to check the village records to find out.

Mr. Gilbride also questioned whether Dr. Tom Halton and Mr. Clarke should be replaced, noting that they had missed a number of meetings, although Dr. Halton’s term has not expired.

In the end, the board took no action, promising to revisit the appointments at an upcoming work session, perhaps as early as this Thursday morning, July 10.

On Monday afternoon, Mr. Gilbride said he was trying to give Harbor Committee members a wakeup call that they should be more vigilant about attending meetings and be better prepared to exercise their duties of enforcing the village’s LWRP.

It lit a fuse under Mr. Tait. “They don’t like me because I was an opponent of the mayor,” he said on Tuesday, referring to the last mayoral race. “Fine, I get that. I have thick skin.”

“My term as chairman is one year, they can appoint whoever they want,” he continued, “but I’m appointed to a five-year term, and it began when I signed my name in the big book when I took my oath of office.”

Mr. Tait said it was his understanding that he still had two years remaining on his term. “You can’t remove me for those two years without due process,” he said.

At a Harbor Committee meeting last month, a visibly frustrated Mr. Tait said the committee was being bogged down by development applications and could not devote the time he would like to devote to policy issues. Plus, he added, when the committee gave approvals, the village did not enforce the code to make sure the restrictions it imposed were being adhered to.

“If they do appoint a new chairman, I may or may not resign from the board,” Mr. Tait said, adding that he would like to continue to serve the village because “I have things I want to accomplish that I have not been able to get done.”

At Mayor Gilbride’s request, the board appointed newly elected Trustee Sandra Schroeder to replace Trustee Robby Stein as deputy mayor.

“It is certainly not anything against Robby,” the mayor said afterward. “He did a great job although sometimes we saw things differently.”

The appointment of Ms. Schroeder, who also opposed the mayor in the previous election should not be taken for any more that “she’s a long-time village employee started out in clerk’s office, became clerk, became administrator and who knows how things are run,” said Mayor Gilbride.

The board also appointed Gregory Ferraris as chairman of the Planning Board after Neil Slevin, the current chairman, resigned, citing personal reasons, the mayor said. Mr. Slevin, though, was appointed as alternate member to the Zoning Board of Appeals, whose chairman, Anton Hagen, was also reappointed.

“Neil’s personal life has commanded him to allocate his time differently,” the mayor said. “He wants to stay involved without sacrificing other things.”

The board named James Larocca to the Planning Board and reappointed Larry Perrine.

The board also reappointed Cee Scott Brown as chairman of the Board of Historic Preservation and Architectural Review. His appointment was called into question by Mr. Stein who said he had been approached by several people who were concerned that Mr. Brown is a Corcoran real estate agent and represents the Watchcase condominium project.

“I don’t have any question about Cee’s professionalism,” Mr. Stein said.

“I’ve been told he’s very professional, he’s very knowledgeable, and he is fair,” said Ms. Schroeder.

Christine Patrick and Penni Ludwig were reappointed to the ARB and John Connor was named its alternate member.

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One Response to “Harbor Committee Up in Air at Sag Harbor Reorganizational Meeting”

  1. Mary Anne Miller says:

    Please see Village regulations for the Harbor Committee. These regulations should guide any actions regarding appointments, term expirations and proposed removal of any members. Once the public receives confirmation of each member’s appointment date and term expiration date, the Village Board can proceed with this year’s appointments and/or proposed removal of current member(s.)

    Chapter 32. HARBOR COMMITTEE

    [HISTORY: Adopted by the Board of Trustees of the Village of Sag Harbor 11-5-1991 by L.L. No. 10-1991 (Ch. 21 of the 1968 Compilation). Amendments noted where applicable.]
    § 32-1. Findings and purposes.
    The Board of Trustees finds that the waterfront, the harbor and adjacent local waters are a most vital financial asset to the Village and of extreme importance to the social, economic and cultural well-being of Village residents and visitors alike and that the quality of all local waters must be protected and preserved to the maximum practical extent to ensure continuation and enhancement of the benefits derived therefrom both for now and for future generations. It is the intent of this chapter to establish procedures which will provide assurance that the Village administration is made aware of all on-going and pending activities which may have an adverse impact on the quality of local waters and of all opportunities for improvement of the quality of these waters so that proper, adequate and timely action may be taken to preserve the water quality and, thereby, the quality of life in the area.
    § 32-2. Committee established; membership.
    A Harbor Committee is hereby established, consisting of five members to be appointed by the Mayor subject to the approval of the Board of Trustees. The first appointments shall be for terms so fixed that two will expire at the end of the current official year, two will expire at the end of the next succeeding official year, and one will expire at the end of the next succeeding official year. Succeeding appointments shall be for three-year terms. All members shall be residents of the Village.
    Residents of other communities bordering on the local waters may be designated adjunct members by the Mayor, subject to the approval of the Board of Trustees, when it is deemed advisable to add special expertise or an area of interest to the Committee. Such designations shall be for a term of one official year and shall expire at the end of each official year. Adjunct members may participate in Committee discussions but shall not have a vote.
    The Mayor, with the consent of the Board of Trustees, may remove any member with cause after a public hearing.
    If a vacancy shall occur other than by expiration of a member’s term, it shall be filled by an interim appointment by the Mayor for the remainder of the former member’s unexpired term.
    The Mayor shall designate a Chairman of the Committee. Such designation shall be for a term of one official year and shall expire at the end of each official year. The Committee shall designate a Vice Chairman and a Secretary for terms as specified above for the Chairman. The Secretary may or may not be a member of the Committee but shall not have a vote if not a member.
    Alternate members.
    [Added 4-3-2001 by L.L. No. 3-2001]
    The Mayor, subject to the approval of the Board of Trustees, may appoint up to two alternate members to the Committee for the purpose of substituting for a member when such member is unable to participate due to conflict of interest, illness or unavailability. The alternate members shall serve for a term of one year.
    The Chairperson of the Committee may designate an alternate member to substitute for a member when such member is unable to participate because of conflict of interest, illness or unavailability. When so designated, the alternate member shall possess the powers and responsibilities of such member of the Committee. The designation shall be entered into the minutes of the initial Committee meeting at which such designation is made.
    § 32-3. Meetings; powers and duties.
    The Committee shall normally meet monthly. Such date and time shall be determined by the Harbor Committee. Additional special meetings may be held when necessary at the call of the Chairman or of any three Committee members. All meetings of the Committee shall be open to the public.
    The Committee shall adopt rules of procedure as it may deem necessary for performance of its duties.
    All decisions of the Committee shall require an affirmative vote of a majority of the full Committee. A quorum shall consist of three members.
    The duties and responsibilities of the Committee shall include:
    Monitoring all activities and reviewing all appropriate applications and proposals which may affect local waters to make an early identification of any which might have an adverse impact on water quality and to ensure conformance with the Local Waterfront Revitalization Program (LWRP).
    Maintaining liaison with other appropriate government and civic bodies so that full advantage may be taken of the efforts of others and cooperation may be extended for the mutual advantage of all concerned.
    Being alert for funding programs which may make moneys available for water-quality-related activities and/or for implementation of other Committee recommendations.
    Making timely and appropriate comments and recommendations to the Mayor, Board of Trustees and other Village boards so that they may take timely and effective action to preserve and protect local waters.
    Taking maximum practical advantage of opportunities to make the general public more fully aware of steps they can take to help preserve and protect local waters.
    Making recommendations to the Board of Trustees with respect to revising and updating the LWRP.

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