By Kathryn G. Menu
Gerald Wawryk, owner of Page at 63 Main, approached the Sag Harbor Planning Board Tuesday night with plans to add what is called “an outdoor seating area” behind the restaurant for customers “waiting to be seated or waiting for takeout.”
“No service is proposed for the area,” reads the original application, reviewed by Sag Harbor building inspector Tim Platt.
However, during the meeting Tuesday, it was revealed that Wawryk intends to allow customers to drink beverages in this outdoor seating area, and hopes to allow patrons buy store made food like a “lobster roll,” which would be purchased in a self serve capacity and eaten in the outdoor waiting area.
Sag Harbor Planning Board Chairman Neil Slevin remained unconvinced, and the board sent the application back to Platt for review.
The parcel that encompasses Page at 63 Main, also known as Page restaurant, is one of several buildings on Main Street that stretches back to Division Street. According to Wawryk’s attorney, Dennis Downes, a back area of the property remains unused. The business hopes to place high tables and chairs in the portion of the property closest to Division Street, which Downes said was meant for restaurant patrons waiting for a seat or those waiting for a take out order. He added the area was not intended to provide “service.”
Downes said plans also entailed landscaping the area for aesthetic purposes.
Slevin wondered if the change in that portion of the property — currently configured as a parking area that village environmental planning consultant Rich Warren noted was used for parking (as recently as the last shots of Google Earth showed) would impact the business’ need for parking.
Downes noted that originally the parcel hosted the Sandbar, “a fairly notorious place in town along with the Black Buoy,” he added. When the space was converted to a restaurant use, said Downes, it earned a tremendous amount of parking credits in the way of over 150 seats because the village has higher standards for bars or taverns than restaurants when calculating parking needs.
“Even if we add the seats into the parking calculation, we would be fine on parking,” said Downes.
Regardless, said village attorney Denise Schoen, the planning board would still need to review the application for site plan approval because new tables were being placed in the outdoor space.
Warren warned the board that because some of this parking area is viewed on Google Earth as being used, the board should ensure it has a rationale to allow the use to expand in this way.
Board member Larry Perrine questioned what “no service” entailed, wondering if beverage service would be allowed in that outdoor seating area.
“We are not providing any food service back there,” said Downes.
“Is there beverage service,” asked Perrine.
“That brings up the point I am concerned with,” said Slevin. “I have no objection to a beer garden. My fondest childhood memories were in a beer garden.”
However, because the planning board has yet to approve anything like this, said Slevin, he wondered if it should not seek the advice of the village board.
Warren questioned why this would be an issue entertained at the trustee level, noting ultimately it was up to the building inspector or the zoning board of appeals to rule on whether or not this constitutes a change of use.
Schoen agreed, stating the question the board should be asking is whether or not it is a permissible accessory use to have alcohol served outside. Board member Jack Tagliasacchi noted it would likely lay in the hands of the state liquor authority, which Schoen added would have authority over the village on where the restaurant could provide alcohol.
However, said Warren, from a zoning perspective they should look at this issue in terms of village parking requirements.
“I would say it’s no different from someone standing three feet in at the bar,” said Downes.
Slevin, said he was concerned with the bar crowd Page attracts, those very patrons would utilize this area as a separate bar space.
Schoen noted that was why site plan approval was in place, to ensure noise issues were addressed if the board felt it necessary.
Tagliasacchi added at the very least Page’s neighbors are the Sag Harbor Village Police station and Murph’s Tavern.
Wawryk said they would have no music, adding, “you will be able to sit out there and have a lobster roll and a beer.”
“So now we are talking about dining,” said board member Greg Ferraris.
“We are offering a store product that people can take outside and eat,” said Wawryk, adding it would be a “self service” operation.
“I think the application needs to be more descriptive than it should be,” said Ferraris.
Wawryk said the restaurant has 156 seats it is trying to maximize and this was the best way for him to do that. He added Division Street in Sag Harbor was an up and coming downtown area for businesses.
“And we just want to take advantage of that,” he said.
Ferraris said he was not opposed to the application but concerned that it was for “no service” when service in some form was in fact planned.
“I am not buying this,” said Slevin. “I know in my heart this is not something we should approve without a public hearing,”
Wawryk questioned other restaurants being approved for similar applications, and quickly, pointing to the former New Paradise Café and Muse in the Harbor, although neither have a self serve food option.
Both Ferraris and Schoen said Platt should review the application in its entirety and report back to the board.
“Tim looked at something different,” said Schoen. “He looked at a waiting area.”
In other planning board news, the board discussed the requirements the village provides for those seeking to legalize an accessory home. Under the accessory home legislation, homeowners must meet code and also must live in the primary residence the accessory apartment is located in. At issue, said Schoen, was Platt’s belief homeowners who are approved for this allowance should not have to file a covenant with Suffolk County guaranteeing these provisions — a covenant that would run with the property.
The immediacy for this issue is that last year Juan Castro was approved for an accessory apartment connected to his Brandywine Drive residence. Schoen said Platt told her he had expressed to the board during the code revision that he believed no covenants should have to be filed in an effort to get residents to comply with the new law. However, according to the village code, a document must be filed showing a homeowner approved for an accessory apartment must follow these rules.
Schoen said the rationale behind covenants in court cases show if a homeowner buys a property with this kind of agreement, but it has not been filed with the county, it can be easily turned over.
“It has always been drilled into my head that we should file covenants,” said Schoen of her work in other municipalities, noting East Hampton and Southampton towns require covenants on a number of projects Sag Harbor Village does not.
Warren wondered if the applicant was opposed to filing the covenant, which Schoen noted could cost as much as $500, but she was unsure.
Warren suggested Sag Harbor Village have Schoen draft a covenant for accessory apartments that could be used for the Castro case and beyond to remove some of the burden from the applicant.
The board agreed to follow up on the matter at its next meeting, on April 23.