No Fireworks at Harbor Heights Hearing

Posted on 09 February 2012

A highly anticipated public hearing on a proposal to expand the Harbor Heights Service Station in Sag Harbor and add a convenience store on the Route 114 parcel drew just a handful of residents to the Municipal Building on Tuesday night. Despite email blasts and newspaper articles alerting the public about the forum, just one neighbor spoke up at the hearing, asking the board to address a specific issue that could affect his property.

As Sag Harbor Village environmental planning consultant Rich Warren explained at the beginning of the hearing, this forum was conceived specifically to ask residents to weigh in on the village’s environmental review of John Leonard’s proposal, not to bash or praise it in general.

There will be more public hearings on the project, not just in front of the Sag Harbor Village Planning Board, but also when the application is formally heard by the village’s zoning board of appeals and its historic preservation and architectural review board (ARB).

Leonard has proposed a full re-development of the Harbor Heights property, which will include the addition of a convenience store, as well as a new layout for gas pump islands, more pumps and new curb cuts to make the station safer to enter and exit. A second business that operates on the parcel —the Sag Harbor Service Station — will also be slightly expanded under the plan to allow for a small office and bathroom.

New landscaping, lighting and a new parking configuration are also proposed.

The project has been supported by some, and rallied against by others, but on Tuesday evening there was little in the way of discussion about new issues the village could explore in its environmental review.

According to a report drafted by Warren, the planning board will explore drainage and impacts from waste products from the automotive repair side of the businesses on the property, as well as the size and scale of Leonard’s proposal. It will also look at traffic, parking, impacts to neighboring residential properties in terms of noise and the expansion of commercial activity on the site, as well as whether the size of the convenience store is appropriate.

Leonard has proposed a store that totals 1,600 square-feet in total size, although the convenience store itself comes in around 1,000 square-feet. The village code prohibits convenience stores over 600 square-feet and Leonard will need a variance from the zoning board to ultimately be approved for the store he has proposed.

Landscaping, lighting and the overall aesthetics of the project will also be looked at.

“So the planning board already has a fairly extensive list before them,” said Warren. “This hearing is to see if the public has anything else they would like to see on that list.”

Neighbor Michael Butler said he was concerned with the placement of a dumpster which will be held in a shed on Leonard’s property directly behind Butler’s home on Eastville Avenue.

Butler said he was worried about the noise that would come with employees removing trash to the dumpster and any vermin that may be attracted to the vessel.

“I would prefer the dumpster be relocated on the property so it does not affect my residence or any other residences,” said Butler, adding the Harbor Heights property should be large enough to comply with his request.

Leonard’s attorney Dennis Downes said he would look at the issue and will bring any changes to the board at its February 28 meeting.

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