Tag Archive | "Board of Trustees"

Village: A Home For Hens

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ag Harbor Village Trustees

Village Introduces Chicken Law

By Kathryn G. Menu

Given that there has been little squawking over a propose law that would allow residents to keep chickens in Sag Harbor, at its public hearing on July 12 the Sag Harbor Village Board of Trustees could make the legislation legal. The news comes much to the delight of residents like Mare Dianora, who is already scoping out chicken coops.

During a June 14 meeting, the Board of Trustees introduced the legislation, which will make it legal for residents to raise chickens, with limitations. The new law would allow hens, but prohibit their noisy rooster counterparts, and will likely be adopted, barring residents speaking out in opposition to it.

The introduction of the local law comes just two months after Dianora asked the board to consider legalizing the practice so residents like she and her husband, Claes Brondal, could keep chickens to provide fresh eggs and fertilizer.

This comes almost a year after North Haven Village couple Brett and Kristin Morgan successfully lobbied the North Haven Village Board to create legislation allowing residents the rights to keep poultry on their properties.

The proposed law, if approved, will allow residents only in residential districts in the village to keep chickens as a special accessory use. The law limits the number of chickens or bantams — a small variety of poultry — to six per 20,000 square-feet of lot area, which is just shy of half an acre of land. Residents will be restricted to a maximum of 18 chickens.

The selling of eggs or any poultry products is prohibited under the legislation, as is keeping roosters. Coops or structures used to house the poultry is also limited to 100 square-feet or 10 feet in height and must be kept in the rear yard. Setback of coops may be no less than 20-feet from the property line. Areas the poultry reside in must also be fenced.

Under the proposed law, the village’s zoning board of appeals may not grant variances to any of the provisions in the legislation. Applicants hoping to keep chickens must notify their neighbors of their application, including a plan for where they plan to keep the birds.

The proposed law will be up for public hearing at the board of trustees Tuesday, July 12 meeting at 6 p.m.

Just months after the Board of Trustees introduced a proposed law that would have required homeowners to have their septic or wastewater treatment system checked every three years, the Town of Southampton announced it would draft similar legislation. The legislation is aimed at protecting the health of the Peconic Estuary by ensuring faulty systems are not seeping waste into groundwater and bays.

However, on Tuesday night, the village board decided to scrap plans, for now, to move forward with the legislation. Mayor Brian Gilbride noted it may be “a little too much” for the Village of Sag Harbor.

In March, at the behest of trustee Robby Stein, the law was introduced on the village board level. It would have required residents to have any in-ground cesspool, septic tank or drain field inspected once every three years, starting four years after the law is adopted by the board.

One impetus for the draft law, said Stein, was that Suffolk County was looking at select waterfront communities that have sewage treatment plants to see if those plants should be expanded to reduce the number of in-ground septic systems on the waterfront. Sag Harbor was one of those communities.

The draft law drew the ire of residents like former mayor Pierce Hance, who questioned the necessity of the legislation. But it also drew praise from Save Sag Harbor President Mia Grosjean, who said the village should do all it can to protect its waterfront.

In the meantime, as Stein noted on Tuesday, last month, the Town of Southampton announced it was drafting similar legislation with the aid of groups like the Group for the East End. That draft law, in its infancy, mandates residents have their systems pumped every five years, or whenever the property is transferred to a new owner. An inspection would also occur at that time, by someone licensed by the county to collect septic waste, to ensure the system was up to county standards.

However, for now, in the Village of Sag Harbor, it appears such regulation is off the table.

“It’s a little too much for Sag Harbor,” said Gilbride.

Preliminary Budget Eyed

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By Marissa Maier

The Sag Harbor Village Board of Trustees and the village department heads rolled up their sleeves last Friday, March 20, and pored over a tentative draft of the village budget for 2009 to 2010 totaling $7.4 million. The meeting was the first in a series the village will hold before finalizing the budget and hosting a public hearing.

Anticipating a budgetary shortfall in fall 2008, Sag Harbor Village Mayor Greg Ferraris asked each department to tighten their belts, avoid expensive and large purchases and “do more with less.”

Village treasurer Eileen Tuohy attributed the $215,000 shortfall to a decrease in non-real property tax revenue. Non-real property tax funds are collected from building permit receipts, dock slip receipts, state aid, and interest from the village savings account, among other sources. With interest rates at their lowest level in years, coupled with a decrease in dock receipts and rising contractual obligations, the village has been forced to economize.

Tuohy hopes continued austerity spending will help the village “break even” in the coming fiscal year. As the trustees analyzed the draft budget line-by-line, Ferraris said, “This is a pretty bare bones budget. We made cuts everywhere we could.”

Some village departments, like the police department and the highway department, are slashing spending through attrition. While Ed Downes, president of the Sag Harbor Ambulance Corps, is holding off on his long term goal of purchasing a third ambulance vehicle, he still must purchase new medical supplies every year.

In the building department, building inspector Tim Platt was able to decrease the overall budget for code enforcement, but said new costs will be incurred because New York State will no longer pay for new code books or training for code personnel. Trustee Tiffany Scarlato said monies paid by the building department for application consultant fees will now be paid out of the planning board and zoning board of appeals budget. In discussing additional costs, Ferraris added that a majority of the police department personnel are at the highest salary step.

Although he commended the departments for their work in paring down the budget, Ferraris said, “If there are items you really need tell us.”

For the fiscal year 2009 to 2010 the projected general fund budget is $7,444,557.68 and the projected tax rate is .002638 percent, although these figures and rates are subject to change. Under the current tax rate of .002605 percent, the owner of a home assessed at $1 million pays approximately $2,605 for village property taxes. If the budget were adopted as it currently stands today, the same homeowner would pay $2,638 in taxes.

“These numbers are subject to change. This is just a preliminary draft and more changes will be made [and presented] this Friday [March 27],” said Tuohy. “[The board] is working very hard to keep [the tax rate] at a very minimal increase.”

Tuohy added that the village fire department still has to present its budget to the board. The next meeting on the tentative budget will be held on Friday, March 27, at 4 p.m. in Sag Harbor Village Hall.

Sagaponack Village Budget

On Monday at Sagaponack Village Hall, the village board of trustees held a work session on their tentative budget, which mayor Don Louchheim presented last week during a regular monthly meeting.

The budget, proposed at $548,809, is just over $4,000 less than last year’s budget, which was $552,873.

A homeowner with a property assessed at $1 million can expect to pay $82.80 in taxes, down from $83.40 last year.

A public hearing on the budget is scheduled for April 13, at 4 p.m.

Board Readies for Spring

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The Sag Harbor Board of Trustees prepared for the spring season at their monthly meeting on Tuesday, March 10 by signing off on an Easter parade, a car show, the farmer’s market and a Plum TV show to be filmed in the village.
The board approved Kate Plumb’s request to hold the Sag Harbor Farmer’s Market every Saturday at the Breakwater Yacht Club from May 23 through Labor Day weekend. From HarborFest weekend, in September, through Halloween, the market will be relocated to Marine Park. The board advised Plumb to meet with James Early, superintendent of public works in the village, to discuss safety issues related to the market while it’s at Marine Park.
A representative from Plum TV visited the board asking to shoot the channel’s weekly live series “Morning, Noon and Night” from the windmill area in the village. The production would shoot only on weekend mornings and would be low impact, said the representative. Citing the show’s potential to attract publicity for the village, Plum TV hopes the fees associated with shooting in the village will be waived. Sag Harbor Mayor Greg Ferraris asked Plum to contact the village’s Chamber of Commerce to work out a partnership with them.
The board also approved the Sag Harbor Chamber of Commerce’s request to hold the annual Easter Bonnet Sidewalk Parade on Saturday, April 11, from noon to 2 p.m.
Charlie Canavan, a local resident, also asked the board if the village would close off the Long Wharf on the same day for his collectible car event. Canavan is organizing a group of owners of show cars to have a display on the wharf where visitors can inspect the cars.
The board approved Canavan’s request pending a meeting between he and Police Chief Tom Fabiano to discuss safety issues and a possible procession down Main Street.
At the close of the meeting, trustee Tiffany Scarlato reported that building permit receipts were higher than anticipated. In January, the receipts totaled $2,987, but in February receipts totaled $7,036. “[These numbers] are not as bad as I thought they were going to be,” said Scarlato.
Scarlato added that a copy of the revised proposed village zoning code will be available to the public in the coming days.

New Village Zoning Code Nears Final Draft

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After two-and-a-half years of zoning planning, code drafting, public forums and numerous revisions, the proposed village zoning code might be enacted as early as April. A public hearing on the new code held on Friday, February 13, yielded less public comment than in previous sessions. The discussion during the hearing was mainly devoted to the revisions which have been made to the code. An amended version of the code will be published in the near future.

The key revisions made to the code include second floor uses, the purview of the Historical Preservation and Architectural Review Board, the timeline for filing a Certificate of Occupancy and day care center and bed and breakfast notification. With the revisions, second floor spaces in the village business district are allowed to be used for retail, office or residential purposes. A confusing piece of language concerning the ARB’s jurisdiction was rewritten, and now clearly states that the ARB does not have jurisdiction over the uses of a retail space. Under the proposed zoning code, a new owner has thirty days to attain a Certificate of Occupancy. In addition, those interested in creating a bed and breakfast or day care center will need to notify their neighbors within a 500-foot radius, instead of only 200 feet.


Sag Harbor Planning Consultant Richard Warren presented two flow charts detailing the process for expansion and change of uses for retail spaces in the village business district. One flow chart showed the process for spaces 3,000 square feet and under, while the other chart detailed the process for spaces above 3,000 square feet. Warren added that special exception uses, which have received a measure of scrutiny from the public, are still permitted uses but simply have to meet a more stringent set of criteria, since they often involve more intensive uses. Warren gave the example of a shoe store changing into a restaurant, which is a special exeception use and requires more parking and sewage usage.

Members of the community still raised concerns over the ARB’s ability to govern interior designs which are visible from the street.

“This seems to restrain certain freedoms, [especially] the freedom of expression,” said Susan Sprott.

However, this provision predates the new zoning code and was enacted in 1994, said Sag Harbor Village Attorney Anthony Tohill. Members of the board added that the purview of the ARB doesn’t extend to merchandise in the retail space.

Overall, members of the board seemed satisfied with the revisions made to the code.

“I do think it went fairly well,” said Trustee Tiffany Scarlato of the hearing on Friday. “I think we are pretty much at the end of the line. I am pretty happy with the end result. Everyone didn’t get exactly what they wanted, but there was certainly a compromise.”

Throughout the discussions over the new zoning code, the issue of parking has come up again and again. According to mayor Greg Ferraris, the new zoning code was intended to handle zoning issues within the village, and not to ameliorate some of the village’s infrastructure problems, including parking.

Parking has been a highly debated issue within the village, well before the new village zoning code was proposed. During the summer season, village parking is often scarce and can lead to traffic congestion. At a recent public hearing on the new zoning code held on January 29, Alan Fruitstone, the owner of Harbor Pets, said many of his customers refer to Sag Harbor as a ‘drive through village’ in the summer months, due to parking and traffic problems. He implored the village to incorporate parking solutions into the new code.

The proposed village zoning code, however, does amend the village’s solution to traffic problems, by eliminating the parking trust fund. Culver commended the village for this move.

“I think eliminating the parking trust fund is a step in the right direction,” said Culver, during a later interview. “It created an unnecessary tension between business owners and the village.”

Culver also contended that parking is an issue which should be addressed in the coming years. He believes it is an opportune time for the village to create parking solutions.

“Now we have a group of folks who are focused on planning issues. Maybe we could now think of the future of the village in a visionary way and generate a discussion [on parking]” added Culver.

During the hearing on Friday, Ted Conklin, proprietor of the American Hotel, articulated these sentiments. Conklin hopes the village will also look into village infrastructure issues, including parking and sewage. “We need to commit ourselves to a visionary plan for the whole of Sag Harbor … Something that generations from now will be proud of,” said Conklin.

The next public hearing on the proposed zoning code will be held on March 19. If no revisions need to be made to the code after this hearing, the board will have to wait at least ten days to enact the new zoning code.


Above: Ted Conklin, owner of the American Hotel in Sag Harbor, calls for a “visionary plan” for the village. 


See video excerpts from the hearing at www.sagharboronline.com


Push for Preservation in Sagaponack

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The Village of Sagaponack is considering amendments to the village code in order to find ways to encourage historic preservation within its borders.

At their monthly work session, the village board of trustees listened as chairwoman of the architectural and historic review board (AHRB) Ana Daniel spoke of the recent demolition of historic buildings within the village.

Daniel expressed concerns about a request to demolish a historic barn-like structure on Parsonage Lane. Daniel said she felt it was “a preferable solution” to keep the house as a guest house, rather than demolish it and build a garage, which was the final decision by the AHRB. Because the owners of the property wanted to build a residential house on the rear of the property, the smaller structure would not be allowed by village code to stay as an additional residential structure.

Daniel said the owners of the property on Parsonage Lane were willing to restore the structure and then the AHRB could accept it as a historic structure rather than what she said looked like “a Hollywood set.”

 “It offends me, personally,” Daniel said about the destruction of these types of buildings overall.

The viable solution, Mayor Don Louchheim said, “is to have code amendments to encourage preservation for buildings deemed historic.”

This, he added, would give the zoning board the right to grant variances and other boards the right to offer waivers.

 “We don’t want to try and mandate,” but Louchheim added, “You have to mandate something to create incentives.”

“We want to make clear that we want historical preservation in the most extreme way possible,” Daniel said.

Trustee Alfred Kelman, said that the dialogue between the board of trustees and the AHRB is healthy, and that is the purpose of the various boards. Although he reminded the room, “They [property owners] have the right to challenge the village.”

“Somebody should get something for preservation,” Louchheim said, “in one way or another there should be a benefit.”

Louchheim said that in order to get historical preservation, the village may want to consider what the residents want and what would be a reasonable compromise “to permit one in order to preserve the other,” he said.

“What would you give?” Louchheim asked Daniel.

“What would be reasonable?” she replied, “These are very case specific.”

Trustee and AHRB liaison, Lisa Duryea Thayer said that there are three applications looking to the board for guidance.

Louchheim said that the board would like to put something in the code, but they would like to first consult with village attorney, Anthony Tohill.

“If the owners would preserve shape and volume of historic buildings, I would be in favor.” Daniel said.


Calling all Bids Back

Sagaponack village trustees also announced at their work session the bids they had received from contractors for work on the roof and vestibule at the new village hall have been rejected.

Louchheim announced at the meeting that the bids would be deemed defective because they did not comply with new procedures required by the state as of July 2008, which requires sealed bids for subcontractors.

“I checked with the village attorney,” Louchheim said, “and he confirmed that we needed sealed bids for subcontractors.”

The bids were opened on Friday, January 9, and as a result of the non-compliance with the New York State requirement, the village has informed all the bidders that they would need to resubmit the bids.

“There were no changes to the specifications of the bid, only to the filing of the bid and the paperwork that is required to file the bid,” village clerk Rhodi Winchell said.

An Appeal for Bikes on Main Street

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Sag Harbor residents might see cyclists riding down Main Street in the coming year, at least Sag Harbor resident and bike enthusiast Sinead Fitzgibbon hopes so. Fitzgibbon worked in association with Sag Harbor Village Police Chief Tom Fabiano to request from the Sag Harbor Village Board of Trustees a repeal of a village law that forbids bicyclists from riding on Main Street, during the board’s monthly meeting on Tuesday, December 9. The law also inhibits joggers from jogging on Main Street sidewalks.

Fitzgibbon met with Sag Harbor Village Mayor Greg Ferraris, and Sara Gordon, a member of the Sag Harbor green committee “725-Green,” two weeks ago to discuss ways of making Sag Harbor more bike friendly, to promote a greener village community. Ferraris then connected Fitzgibbon with Fabiano, who believes the bike regulation is hard to enforce law.
She has also seemed to rally significant local support. Fitzgibbon’s cyclists advocacy group, named “Spokes People,” had 30 attendees at its last meeting, and she has a list of 200 members from Riverhead to Montauk.
Fitzgibbon compiled a dossier of research for the board on potential Main Street bicyclists markings. Fitzgibbon suggests that bikers ride in the center of the lane. She would also like bicycling markings, of either a series of pointing arrows or a caricature of a cyclist contained in a larger arrow, to be clearly painted on the street in Thermoplastic paint. Residents will recognize similar markings on the bike lane of Route 114.
“The concept of a Main Street bike route with designated markings encourages motorists to share the road with cyclists,” Fitzgibbon later said. Through her research, she also found that a greater percentage of cyclists on the road lowers the percentage of accidents between bikes and cars.
At the meeting, Fitzgibbon added that she believed the town law disallowing bike travel down Main Street was in fact a violation of state law that allows bikes on all public roads.
“That is simply not true,” countered Sag Harbor Village Attorney Fred Thiele, Jr. later. “There is a provision in the general municipal law which is a state law that gives the authority to towns and cities to regulate the use of bicycles within their municipalities. The village has the authority to regulate bike usage, as long as those regulations are reasonable.”
Some feel that these regulations were put in place as a safety precaution.
“That is why the law was enacted, over concerns with bikes and the village parking situation. Maybe people [in cars] wouldn’t see the bicyclists,” said village trustee Ed Deyermond. “I think people jogging in the summertime on the sidewalk when it is very crowded is opening up a can of worms.”
The relationship between the village’s parking and cyclists was an issue that concerned board member Tiffany Scarlato, who attested to seeing many accidents between bicycles and cars in the downtown area of the village.
Police Chief Tom Fabiano said that he understood that the law had been enacted as a safety measure. He added that the law had been created a long time ago, in the late 1980s, and that today, even with more traffic control officers on the streets of the village it remains an extremely difficult law to enforce.
“I think [a bike plan] could be done on a trial basis,” continued Fabiano “I am willing to try anything. We should look into trying different things.”
Scarlato suggested that this was a good opportunity to explore alternative options, such as allowing bikes to ride on streets in the village which run parallel to Main Street. Fitzgibbon hopes to arrange a meeting with some of the board members, or on an individual basis, to clarify her suggestions for the markings down Main Street.
“The plan may not be as inherently dangerous as they perceive it to be,” said Fitzgibbon.
There will be a public hearing on this issue at next month’s board of trustees meeting, on January 13. The public is encouraged to come to the meeting and express their views on this issue. The village attorney, Fred Thiele, Jr. will also come to the meeting with prepared legislation for the repeal of the law.


Above Image: An unknown female cyclist whizzes through Sag Harbor Village. 

Village to Add Court Services

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In an effort to economize Sag Harbor village functions and maximize efficiency, the Sag Harbor Board of Trustees presented an array of revenue generating and cost-saving ideas at this month’s board of trustees meeting, on Tuesday, December 9.
The village is looking into hiring Fundamental Business Service, Inc. (FBS), a data management and consulting business, to collect revenue from a three-year backlog of some 6,800 unpaid parking tickets. Presently, either East Hampton or Southampton Town, depending on the side of the village where the ticket was issued, is required to send out one notice of an unpaid parking ticket, however, after this they are not required to send out further notices. (The towns send out the notices and are responsible for the administration aspect of unpaid tickets because they process these tickets.) Almost four years ago, the village hired FBS to transcribe all the records of parking summonses. It was around this time that the village also purchased software that has the capability to track outstanding tickets. This software can be updated at no additional cost to the village.
For his services, Dennis Farrell, the FBS representative who will work with the village, will be paid 30 percent of commissionable fines and penalties. The board is expecting a proposal from FBS on the collection process shortly, and once the board signs off on it, they will begin to recoup the outstanding funds. The collection of this money could translate into substantial revenue for the village. On a side note, the board is also exploring a way to allow people to pay their parking fines in Sag Harbor, since now they must travel to the Southampton Town Police Department.
In another effort to acquire revenue, the board is looking into creating legislation which would allow village police to write vehicle and traffic violation tickets, for certain offenses, under village code instead of New York State Vehicle and Traffic Law. Now, revenue from parking violation tickets are shared between the state, the town and the village, with the village receiving a percentage of these funds. With vehicle and traffic violations, however, income generated from the tickets are shared only between the town and New York State. Despite the fact that village police officers are putting in the time and effort to issue those tickets, the village isn’t currently receiving any revenue from these tickets.
Sag Harbor Mayor Greg Ferraris added that Southampton Town justices were dismissing approximately 43.8 percent of the tickets issued in Sag Harbor village.
“I am sure some of these tickets were dismissed upon merit, but this rate seems very high,” said Ferraris.
Ferraris also introduced the idea of holding occasional Southampton Town Justice Court sessions for parking and vehicle and traffic violations in the village. The town justice court will be moving from their current facilities in Southampton Village to Hampton Bays in two to three months, creating what he feels will be a burden for local residents.
“All of the logistics haven’t been worked out yet. It is just theoretical at this point,” said Ferraris.
The village is also in the process of enacting video arraignments for the Southampton Town Justice Courts. As Sag Harbor Police Chief Tom Fabiano explained, defendants would be held in a holding area in Sag Harbor with a television hooked up to a live-feed to a monitor in the Southampton courtroom. Currently, a village police officer is required to transport and accompany a defendant to court proceedings. Video arraignments would cut down on the amount of time police officers are away from the village, which would be useful, Fabiano noted, considering the court’s move to Hampton Bays.
“Our officers will have to travel to Hampton Bays, and in the summer that will be really difficult,” said Fabiano. Video arraignments have already been installed in the Brooklyn court system, and, according to Ferraris, the village will be a test case for Suffolk County.
Village attorney Fred Thiele, Jr. reported that Southampton Town is in the process of writing a grant application which will be submitted to the state in the next couple weeks. The grant money would help offset the costs associated with purchasing video equipment, which is minimal compared to the costs of transporting defendants to Hampton Bays. Thiele expects that the town will receive an answer to the application in the coming months.
The first item of old business on the agenda concerned the adoption of the special events permits procedure law. The law would require that people holding large events or parties in the village receive a special event permit. A public hearing held in mid-November revealed that many Sag Harbor residents were in favor of the new permit procedure. At this month’s board meeting, the law was passed.