By Kathryn G. Menu
Julian Adams, the director of the New York State Historic Preservation Office’s Bureau of Community Preservation Services, will formally advise the Sag Harbor Historic Preservation & Architectural Review Board (ARB) on whether to allow the use of aluminum-clad wood windows in homes and businesses in the historic district.
Adams will also be asked to provide the ARB with guidance as it reviews the application of Sloan Schaffer to renovate the former Sag Harbor United Methodist Church building on Madison Street into a single family residence with a pool and terrace.
As an historic landmark, the structure is subject to the standards and guidelines of the National Parks Service, which has regulations in place to ensure any changes to a landmarked structure protect the building’s historic integrity.
The discussion about both issues was raised at last Thursday’s Sag Harbor ARB meeting.
ARB Chairman Cee Scott Brown tabled Schaffer’s application, noting the board wants to understand that project more thoroughly and would seek professional guidance in its review, as tackling an application for the renovation of a landmarked building is not something the ARB commonly contends with.
“This is the first time we have been dealing in a real way with a National Registry landmarked building,” said Brown, who suggested the Schaffer application be reviewed at the ARB’s January 9 or January 27 meeting.
He also asked the building department to contact Adams to ensure he was able to provide the board guidance.
Brown said he has already consulted Adams about the ongoing debate surrounding the use of aluminum-clad wood windows in buildings in the historic district of Sag Harbor.
The issue has come to the forefront of debate before the ARB after In Home owners David Brogna and John Scocco appealed a prior ARB decision that prevented them from using aluminum-clad wood windows for three second story windows in their 132 Main Street business. In addition to arguing that they did not believe the windows would compromise the historic district and that they intended to use top of the line aluminum clad windows, Brogna and Scocco also pointed to ARB approval of the same windows in the Watchcase condominium project, which boasts 1,000 windows, and the renovation of the historic building at 125 Main Street.
At a meeting in early November, Brown — a principal agent in the sale of the Watchcase condos who since taking that role has traditionally recused himself from any conversations regarding that project —said he did not believe there was any record showing the ARB had approved those specific windows for that development. In both the case of the Watchcase condos and 125 Main Street, Brown said the approvals were unintentional.
On Thursday, Brown proposed a resolution allowing Brogna and Scocco to use aluminum-clad wood windows in their building, noting he has spoken with Adams about the use of those windows in historic districts and discovered it is not uncommon.
“They are finding there are very successful applications for aluminum-clad windows in very sensitive historic districts,” said Brown.
Ensuring those windows are of high quality, and not cheaply made, would be something incumbent on the ARB for any approval of this kind of window, he added.
“And if we were to consider this it would have to be on a case by case basis,” added Brown.
ARB member Bethany Deyermond said if the board did sign off this she would want to ensure any applicants already denied for this kind of window be allowed to return to the ARB for consideration.
Save Sag Harbor board member Bob Weinstein urged the board to not make any decisions until a public conversation — either with Adams or an official with the Society for the Preservation of Long Island Antiquities (SPLIA) — could be scheduled.
“Let us all hear this from Julian,” said Weinstein, noting that could only protect the ARB in the long term.