Sag Harbor to Establish Village Justice

Posted on 15 January 2010

Following next month’s Sag Harbor Village Board of Trustees meeting, the village will be one step closer to establishing its own justice court, after it holds a public hearing creating the office of village justice.

On Tuesday, January 12 the board introduced the measure, which will be up for public hearing on Tuesday, February 9 at 6 p.m.

“The Board of Trustees of the Village of Sag Harbor has determined that it will be in the interest of the health, safety and welfare of the residents of the Village of Sag Harbor for the village to have its own justice court to adjudicate local traffic, criminal and building and zoning matters,” reads the public hearing notice.

With the creation of the office of village justice, the board would seek to have one justice elected and one appointed only to serve when the elected judge was unavailable. The elected village justice would serve a four-year term. With the acting justice appointed on a yearly basis with compensation for both justices to be decided as the village enters its budget hearings later this winter.

In related news, the board of trustees agreed to sign a contract with the Town of Southampton to handle traffic tickets in the village with the stipulation they could cancel the contract should Sag Harbor officially create its own justice court.

According to Sag Harbor Mayor Brian Gilbride, Sag Harbor is ending its fiscal year in healthy shape with a “reasonable” surplus, although he added village administrator Sandra Schroeder will be looking into grants to ensure Sag Harbor has enough money to handle snow removal throughout the winter following the blizzard in December and subsequent storms.

According to the auditing report, compiled by Lundy & Co. CPA’s, the village’s financial management and estimates have been reasonable, but the firm has made recommendations as Sag Harbor trustees enter their budgetary talks for the 2010-2011 fiscal year.

Among the recommendations are that the board adopt an annual investment policy, that the village adopt formal policies for cell phone use and employee seminars and that trustees adopt a formal fraud policy, although none of the suggestions were tied to specific behavior by village employees but made simply as a precautionary measure.

Accessory Apartments

After only receiving, and granting, one request to legalize an existing, attached accessory apartment as a new village measure to increase the stock of affordable units in Sag Harbor, board members are considering expanding the law to allow separate, existing accessory units under the law.

According to trustee Tiffany Scarlato, the board should also look at beefing up code enforcement for all illegal accessory units in the village.

“There are safety issues and there are tax issues,” said board member Robby Stein.

Scarlato said she would reach out to Sag Harbor village attorney Anthony Tohill and Sag Harbor village planning consultant Richard Warren to discuss the possible change, which was looked at when the village re-wrote its zoning code last year.

“There are a lot of issues that go along with that,” she said of allowing accessory units that are not attached to a main residence.

“Maybe it is time to nudge,” said Gilbride about increasing code enforcement in the village.

“We are not that stupid that we don’t know they are out there,” said Scarlato.

Resident and business owner Nada Barry wondered what incentives were being offered to those looking to legalize units, noting cost can become a factor when bringing an apartment up to code.

“Maybe they would come forward if they knew there was help,” she said.

Scarlato noted that the Sag Harbor Community Housing Trust, while currently without monies, but with credit, was designed to provide that assistance.

“My view is they are using something they are not supposed to be using,” added trustee Tim Culver. “So why are we subsidizing them?”

In other village news, the board announced that Grievance Day will be held in the Municipal Building on February 16 from 1 to 5 p.m. for any Sag Harbor Village resident looking to argue their tax bill. The village election will be held on June 15 between noon and 9 p.m. at the firehouse on Brickiln Road.

Lastly, Sag Harbor Village Police Chief Thomas Fabiano was approved to hire Nicholas Samot as a permanent full-time police officer at a salary of $43,040.

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