Confirming its purview over the entire village, the Sag Harbor Board of Trustees on Tuesday night, reaffirmed the authority of the village’s board of historic preservation to rule on applications both within and beyond the village’s historic district.
The decision was made as the village board considered a proposed local law at its Tuesday night meeting which would have restricted the ARB’s jurisdiction to the historic district and to projects outside the historic district requiring a site plan review — such as commercial developments.
Instead, the board will clarify an existing law, and more clearly define the ARB’s role.
The reason the board needed to consider the local law, according to Sag Harbor Village attorney Fred W. Thiele, Jr., is because a code revision completed in 2009 does not clearly express what the ARB’s jurisdiction is. Recently, the building department has stopped requiring ARB approval for residential projects outside of the historic district.
Local attorney Dennis Downes has raised this jurisdictional issue anecdotally when discussing projects outside of the historic district which he has represented that have not had to receive ARB approval. On Tuesday night Thiele stressed the decision to clarify the code had nothing to do with one single application, but rather was meant to be a correction to the village code.
However, Save Sag Harbor board member Mia Grosjean said that organization was opposed to the ARB’s jurisdiction being limited to the historic district. She said the village code showed the original intent of having an ARB is that they would have purview over development throughout the village.
“The increasing development pressures on Sag Harbor mandate the need for compatible development as one enters this special place known as Sag Harbor,” said Grosjean on Tuesday night, reading from a prepared statement. “The reason for our popularity and increasing real estate values lies, in large part, with the character, scale and compatibility of new construction and additions, both in and outside of the historic district. The attractiveness of our entrances will leave a lasting impression on all who live, visit and work in the Village of Sag Harbor.”
ARB Chairman Cee Scott Brown agreed and also implored the board to consider allowing the ARB the same jurisdiction it has traditionally had for decades. The board’s most senior member, Tom Horn, Sr. – who has been on the ARB through eight different administrations – said the board has never not had jurisdiction over all projects throughout the entire village.
Brown added projects within and outside the historic district are reviewed under different standards. For example, artificial materials are expressly prohibited in the historic district, although they are considered for projects outside the historic district. However, Brown added it would be helpful to have clearer guidelines for the ARB to follow in its review of all projects.
Sag Harbor Historical Society President Nancy French Achenbach said she agreed with Brown, as did Myrna Davis, one of the original members of the 1974 committee that sought historic landmark status for the Village of Sag Harbor.
“The fact is that board has always looked at these things and now they are not,” said Mayor Brian Gilbride, who with the board’s consent asked Thiele to revise the local law to give the ARB jurisdiction over the entire village.
“I think we should tell the building inspector that this is what we are thinking so applicants can begin filing with the board now,” said trustee Tim Culver.