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.