By Kathryn G. Menu
Sewage has been a sticking point for the John Jermain Memorial Library in its efforts to expand. But Sag Harbor Village officials announced this week that they will work with the Suffolk County Health Department to make the library’s hopes for expansion a reality — at least as far as the septic system is concerned.
On Tuesday, December 14, Sag Harbor Village Trustees empowered village attorney Fred W. Thiele, Jr. to work with the Health Department on a deal that would trade a small portion of 26-acres of village owned land on the Sag Harbor/Bridgehampton Turnpike for the library’s right to build an on-site septic system at their Main Street property.
On Wednesday Thiele said the some of the acreage, which is adjacent to the Long Pond Greenbelt, the transfer station and the village’s department of public works, is ripe for conservation anyway, creating a “win-win” scenario for all involved parties.
“This is a way to allow for a good public project and consistent with overall plans for the Long Pond Greenbelt,” said Thiele.
Similar to the use of Pine Barren credits by developers hoping to expand beyond their allowed density, if a deal is reached, the village property would be preserved from future development, and in turn, the library would gain enough density credits to move forward with their plans.
Earlier this year, the library presented plans seeking to hook up to the Sag Harbor Village wastewater treatment plant in order to accommodate the septic needs for its over 7,000-square foot expansion. After neighbors bristled at the idea, the library went back to the drawing board, crafting a plan for an on-site septic system. But because the proposal would exceed density and due to the fact that the village sewage treatment system is nearby, the health department denied the library’s request. The library will now appeal to the health department’s board of review with the details of the village’s credit swap plan.
Knowing an on-site system would not meet health department standards, the village originally denied the library’s request earlier this year, but vowed to help the library by offering village-owned land in return for the increase of density at the library parcel.
Tuesday night, the board of trustees reaffirmed that commitment with Thiele suggesting that as little as one or two acres of the 26-acre spread could be “sanitized,” or its septic credits taken by the county, to earn the library’s approval.
On Wednesday, Thiele said he is looking for an informal meeting with the board of review, the village and the library in the hopes of maximizing the library’s chances of approval. A location within the 26-acres will likely be chosen then, said Thiele.
Ted Conklin, owner of The American Hotel, wondered if East Hampton and Southampton towns should kick-in on the effort as well, as the library district encompasses the whole of the Sag Harbor School District and is not confined to village boundaries.
“I am not thinking about it like that,” said Sag Harbor Mayor Brian Gilbride.
Deputy Mayor Tim Culver said he was in support of the concept, but would like to ensure as much of the 26-acre property remains in village ownership, which Thiele said would not be an issue.
In other village news:
The board of trustees officially ended plans to adopt a proposed expansion of the village’s accessory apartment law, which would have paved the way for the legalization of existing apartments in outbuildings like garages and pool houses.
According to Culver, the village will take a second look at the law and resubmit a new draft plan in coming months.
“There was a lot of to and fro, for and against, and no consensus,” said trustee Robby Stein. “What is clear is this doesn’t work. So this should now be thrown out and with input we should revisit this issue.”
Elizabeth Dow formally received permission for a zoning change at 48 Madison Street, the former United Methodist Church, to village business. This change will allow her textile and wall covering company and school to move to the location.
The village did place restrictions on the property that would prevent it from ever becoming a convenience store, bar or tavern, laundromat, dry cleaning business, movie or live theatre, gym, yacht sales center or any kind of food service business.
According to Dow’s attorney Tiffany Scarlato, the change of zoning will only go into effect once Dow has site plan approval from the village planning board. Scarlato added her client will not make that application until she formally closes on the property, which she is purchasing from former Southampton Town Councilman Dennis Suskind.
Lastly, trustees named John Christopher as an alternate member to the Sag Harbor Village Harbor Committee.