Resident Would Like to Convert Former Methodist Church into a B&B

Posted on 17 November 2009

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Sag Harbor resident and attorney Linda Mintz approached the Sag Harbor Village Board of Trustees on Tuesday night with an informal plan to convert the former Sag Harbor United Methodist Church into a 15-room bed and breakfast. However, board members expressed concern about the concept, questioning whether it would be an appropriate use for the historic, and now vacant, structure. On Tuesday, November 10 Mintz said she was interested in purchasing the church from Bridgehampton resident and former chairman of Goldman Sachs Dennis Suskind, who bought the building two years ago from the Methodist Church congregation for close to $3 million. Pastor Tom MacLeod said the congregation could not afford repairs and upkeep of the historic structure and needed to make the sale in order to afford construction of a new, more affordable, church off Carroll Street. While Suskind originally intended to convert the church into a single-family residence, he later put the church back on the market and it has sat dormant for the last two years. On Tuesday, Mintz noted the building was a registered historic landmark and very important to village residents. She proposed converting the structure, which is zoned residential, into a high-end bed and breakfast. “There is a lot of history as far as converting historic buildings into B & Bs,” said Mintz, adding she believed the project could be beneficial to businesses, specifically those located near the church at an often less-traveled portion of the village business district. “Unfortunately, the code doesn’t really allow for that type of use in that type of structure,” she said. Mintz said the simplest way around the code, should the village support the idea, would be for the board to change the definition of a bed in breakfast to allow for more rooms in larger structures. “To me, I don’t know any B & B is 15 rooms,” said Mayor Brian Gilbride, to the agreement of a majority of the board. Trustee Tiffany Scarlato added there was a lot of public resistance to allowing smaller bed and breakfasts in residential neighborhoods. Mintz noted the 1708 House in Southampton Village has 15 rooms and the 1770 House in East Hampton boasts 10. Both are located in residential districts and despite its closeness to Main Street, the church is in a residential section of the village. “The problem is the use is so limited and we have a landmarked building sitting there vacant,” said Mintz. On Wednesday, Mintz said she felt the village has long needed a boutique bed and breakfast and when she looked at plans drawn up for Suskind by Fred Stelle architects for the church, felt it was a perfect fit. “I would think the village would welcome this use instead of it being a private residence,” said Mintz. “This way it is good for businesses and open to the public.” Mintz said Tuesday’s meeting did not deter her completely, and she planned to explore the concept further with her attorneys. However, an uphill battle is not something she is interested in, she added. “If it looks like I am trying to push a pebble up Mount Everest, I will not proceed,” she said. Sewers & Budget In other news, the village repealed and adopted a new sewer law to make the legislation in line with state law. According to attorney Frederick Eisenbud, who represents the village regarding the sewer system, changing the law involves defining the use of private septic systems as a part of the sewer district. Ted Conklin, owner of The American Hotel, urged the board not to pass the new law, noting a major aspect of an ongoing lawsuit between some member of the sewer district and the village is that just 10 percent of the village – those currently hooked up to the system – pay for the sewage treatment plant. He said passage would result in ongoing legal battles and expenses. “This is a very complicated thing, but our side is more than willing to sit down and discuss practical resolutions to this,” said Conklin. The board ultimately did repeal the old law and enact the new law, despite Conklin’s protest. Village Treasurer Eileen Tuohy informed the board that the village is currently looking at a budget shortfall of $40,000 to $45,000 for the fiscal year 2009-2010, for the most part as a result of mortgage tax revenues and interest on investments not bringing in what the village budget anticipated it would. She will present the board with a complete report in January. The board also adopted a new law designating bike lanes on a route around the village business district, from Glover Street to Long Island Avenue, which connects with Route 114, and on an alternate route from Spring Street to Bridge Street to Long Island Avenue. Lastly, the board agreed to hire Bob Bori as the new village harbor master after Ed Swenson announced his resignation earlier this month. Bori, who owns a landscaping business, is a former Sag Harbor Village Fire Department Chief, former officer with the Southampton Town Police and lives in the village.

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5 Responses to “Resident Would Like to Convert Former Methodist Church into a B&B”

  1. Art says:

    Good luck Linda I hope you get it. I can’t imagine what the town will find fault with but then I also thought that with the watch case factory which I now have the pleasure of looking at every day.

  2. Go Linda! Betcha’ a B&B will create far less animosity in it’s life than went on among the choir, the deacons, the women’s association, the board etc whilst it was a church. CB

  3. I bought a much smaller church from the Baptists in Buena Vista Colorado. I walked in and thought it was perfect, purchased it in half an hour. It’s 4800 square feet, 10 foot ceilings, hardwood floors and the lower level was perfect for private innkeepers quarters and a day spa. It has been a pleasure to live there. We decorated in a contemporary, plain style and our guests love it! They walk through the front door and breathe a sigh of relief. It’s quiet, on the edge of town and has lots of parking. I hope you are able to work with the town. Sometimes a visual of what you are trying to do helps. I submitted renovation plans and had an open hearing at a town meeting too. You will put the building back on tax rolls, you will contribute with sales and lodging taxes and create jobs. If you don’t increase the footprint, and choose your materials wisely, you could have a green project as well. I wish you all the success in the world. There are so many positive aspects to the plan with so few negatives, I hope you will get to have your dream. Sandra Schrawder, Innkeeper from The Inn at Buena Vista.

  4. BobbyV says:

    What a waste of time ,do something for the locals!

  5. Art says:

    Let’s hear your plan BobbyV and please let us know how you plan to raise the funding.

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