For many in Sag Harbor, Provisions Natural Foods Market & Organic Café is a daily stop where they can pick up an organic lunch or healthy groceries.
It appears that come summer, owner Rich Kresberg will have more shelf space for homeopathic remedies and vitamins, organic produce and organic dry goods. Kresberg’s application to expand Provisions into an adjacent retail space was greeted favorably at Tuesday night’s Sag Harbor Village Planning Board meeting.
Kresberg is in final lease negotiations to take over the 1 Bay Street storefront which was most recently occupied by The Style Bar and is directly next to Provisions. On Tuesday night, his attorney Dennis Downes presented the Sag Harbor Village Planning Board with plans to expand Provisions into the first floor of the former Style Bar space. The expansion is part of an overall effort to reconfigure the café and grocery store.
Originally, said Downes, Kresberg hoped Provisions could take over a full 777-square-feet of space at 1 Bay Street. The café would keep its legal 32-seats and would not expand, said Downes, so there would be no additional parking or sanitary needs associated with the project.
However, because Provisions already occupies a 2,450 square-foot space, adding that amount of square footage would require a special exception permit as the store would exceed 3,000 square-feet. The latest incarnation of the village code limits retail spaces to a maximum 3,000 square-feet in order to maintain Sag Harbor’s small storefronts.
“I cannot meet those standards,” said Downes of the special exception permit requirements, which would require Kresberg to explore installing affordable housing in an apartment above 1 Bay Street — something Kresberg’s landlord is not interested in doing, said Downes. As the application would have called for the expansion of a grocery store to over 3,000 square-feet, Downes added, the village code requires a marketing study, which would cost Kresberg upwards of $10,000 to complete.
The Sag Harbor Village Planning Board, he added, is not allowed under the village code to waive special exception permit standards in this case because the overall floor area of Provisions is growing.
“I think the main reason behind that was to handcuff some boards so they could not offer waivers,” said planning board member and former village mayor Greg Ferraris.
To solve this issue, Downes said he had consulted with Sag Harbor Village Building Inspector Tim Platt who advised him that as originally planned Kresberg would need to shave just 105-square-feet from the expansion and could do so by using that space as storage. Not only does this eliminate the need for the permit, said Downes, but it also gives the planning board the ability to waive a public hearing in its site plan review of the proposal.
“I am inclined to view this as a benign change in use request,” said planning board chairman Neil Slevin.
According to Sag Harbor Village planning consultant Rich Warren, the board will still need to review the site plan application and complete a short environmental review of the proposal, which could be completed as early as the board’s April 24 meeting.