Tag Archive | "Dennis Downes"

Village Revokes Page Outdoor Dining License

Tags: , , , , , , ,


Staff members clear tables and chairs from in front of Page at 63 Main after the Sag Harbor Village Board revoked the restaurant's outdoor dining license on Friday. Photo by Stephen J. Kotz.

Staff members clear tables and chairs from in front of Page at 63 Main after the Sag Harbor Village Board revoked the restaurant’s outdoor dining license on Friday. Photo by Stephen J. Kotz.

By Stephen J. Kotz

After a month of behind-the-scenes wrangling over unapproved renovations made at Page at 63 Main, the Sag Harbor Village Board pounced on Friday, July 18, revoking the restaurant’s license for outdoor dining on Main Street.

The village took the action even after one of the restaurant’s attorneys, Dennis Downes said losing the option to offer outdoor dining would cost the restaurant between $7,500 and $10,000 a day and even jeopardize its ability to stay in business.

In an 11th hour bid to appease the village, Mr. Downes said Page’s owners had offered to immediately shut down their Back Page café, behind the main restaurant, until zoning and fire code violations there were rectified and a site-plan issued for the property.

Mr. Downes conceded that mistakes had been made, but said the restaurant had been held up during the planning process and had to do the work before approvals were in hand to be ready for the summer season.

“Without those seats, there is a lot of money being lost,” he said of the outdoor dining. “It could be the difference between being able to stay alive in the winter where there are less people out here.”

But the board would not be swayed. “We’re here talking because when there was a suspension… the right thing would have been to remove the tables and chairs and let’s get to the bottom of this,” Mayor Brian Gilbride said.

He referred to an action taken by building inspector Tim Platt, who had cited the business for doing the renovation work with neither a site plan approval nor a building permit and had ordered it to suspend its outdoor dining service until the charges were sorted out. Instead, he said, the restaurant’s owners “thumbed their nose” at the village.

The board’s action clearly got the restaurant owners’ attention. A few minutes after it revoked the license, and Page’s owners and managers left the Municipal Building grumbling among themselves, waiters and busboys were scurrying about, clearing the tables and chairs from in front of the restaurant before the evening’s dinner rush.

On Tuesday, Mr. Downes, and Tom Horn, another attorney for the restaurant, were in Sag Harbor Village Justice Court for an initial appearance on the restaurant’s behalf. Village Justice Andrea Schiavoni said she would have to recuse herself from hearing the case because of a relationship with one of the restaurant’s owners and adjourned the case until August.

Speaking outside the courtroom, Mr. Horn, who said he had only had time to quickly review the charges against the restaurant, nonetheless expressed confidence it would prevail in court. “I think the charges are technically flawed and actually flawed,” Mr. Horn said, “and I say that based on my 11 years’ experience as a fire marshal.” Before becoming an attorney, Mr. Horn was a fire marshal for East Hampton Town.

The restaurant’s saga took another turn on Tuesday night when Mr. Downes, and Gerard Wawryk, one of its owners, appeared before the Planning Board, trying to straighten out the confusion over the restaurant’s renovation project, which was undertaken this spring.

The key issues revolved around changes to the proposed site plan for the dining area now known as the Back Page Café. At a June 26 village board meeting, then-planning board chairman Neil Slevin said the restaurant had done work that planners had not intended.

That included moving without permission the location of an enclosure that would allow it to keep its dumpsters refrigerated as well as the replacement of a grass waiting area with a bluestone patio.

One of the village’s attorneys, Denise Schoen, said that the wooden Dumpster building, which had been placed next to a fence beside Murph’s Backstreet Tavern and connected to the electric service, posed a fire hazard, a charge the restaurant’s owners denied.

Ms. Schoen added that the Back Page had originally been presented as a waiting area, where restaurant patrons could enjoy a drink or hors d’oeuvres while waiting for a table inside, but had, in fact, been turned into an outdoor expansion of the restaurant.

Mr. Downes has said the planning board approved the changes when it accepted a new survey of the site last winter, but board members said it was an oversight.

Despite the disagreement, planning board members were amenable to tweaking the site plan for the Back Page and said they would okay the bluestone patio even though it would exceed the allowable lot coverage because it was served by sufficient drainage.

But planners said they would not allow the dumpster enclosure to remain in its current location because it effectively eliminated the restaurant’s driveway and prevented delivery trucks from backing in off the street, forcing them to instead block one lane of traffic on Division Street.

On Tuesday, Mr. Wawryk offered to remove the dumpster building and replace it with two smaller enclosures that would be set back on either side of the driveway farther from Division Street to provide space for delivery trucks.

Planners said they would send a memo supporting the changes to the village Zoning Board of Appeals, which has held off on a decision on the restaurant’s application for variances, pending a resolution of the site plan issues.

At last week’s special meeting, when the board informed Page’s owners that it was considering revoking the restaurant’s outdoor dining privilege, Mr. Downes tried at first to argue that it was “a was “a valuable property right” that the village could not revoke without “due process.”

Village attorney Fred W. Thiele Jr. called those charges “ludicrous,” adding that the village only charged $100 for a license and said if outdoor seats were as valuable as Mr. Downes said they were, the village should be charging more. “It’s a privilege to use public property for a private use,” Mr. Thiele said.

Sag Harbor Village Board Revokes Page at 63 Main Outdoor Dining License

Tags: , , , , ,


DSC_0816

Waiters remove chairs from Page at 63 Main Friday afternoon after the Sag Harbor Village Board of Trustees revoked the restaurant’s outdoor dining license. 

By Stephen J. Kotz

The Sag Harbor Village Board of Trustees on Friday, July 18, revoked the outdoor dining license of Page at 63 Main restaurant. The village board took the action, Mayor Brian Gilbride said, primarily because of ongoing code compliance issues with the restaurant’s new Back Page café, which opened earlier this year.

It did so after attorney Dennis Downes—who told the board the outdoor dining on Main Street earned the restaurant between $7,500 and $10,000 a day—said its owners would shut down the Back Page café immediately until zoning code violations were resolved and a site plan was issued if the village would allow it to keep its outdoor dining license.

Minutes after the village issued its order, at about 5 p.m., waiters were busy removing the tables and chairs that had graced the front of the restaurant next door to the Municipal Building.

The restaurant found itself in hot water when village officials said it made improvements to the property without first obtaining building permits. Village officials also said the restaurant created an outdoor dining area with a slate patio, when the village Planning Board had intended for it to be used simply as a waiting area for patrons who wanted to dine in the main restaurant.

Village officials also said a refrigerated Dumpster enclosure that was built behind the Back Page posed a fire hazard because it was wired for electricity, a charge the restaurant’s representatives denied.

The village also charged that Page did not remove the same number of seats from inside the restaurant as it offered outside, as it had agreed to do when applying for the license.

Last week, the village building inspector suspended the Main Street dining license, pending the restaurant’s appearance next week in village Justice Court. In the meantime, said Mayor Gilbride, the restaurant’s owners “thumbed their nose” at the village.

“We’re here talking because when there was a suspension… the right thing would have been to remove the tables and chairs and let’s get to the bottom of this,” the mayor said.

Mr. Downes sought to prevent the village board from taking action, saying the outdoor dining right was “a valuable property right” that the village could not revoke without “due process.”

Village attorney Fred W. Thiele Jr. called those charges “ludicrous,” adding that the village only charged $100 for a license and said if outdoor seats were as valuable as Mr. Downes said they were, the village should be charging more. “It’s a privilege to use public property for a private use,” Mr. Thiele said.

Mr. Downes conceded that mistake had been made, but said the restaurant had been held up during the planning process and had to do the work to be ready for the summer season.

“Without those seats, there is a lot of money being lost,” said Mr. Downes of the outdoor dining. “It could be the difference between being able to stay alive in the winter where there are less people out here.”

Plans for a Jefferson Street House Draw Fire

Tags: , , , ,


By Stephen J. Kotz

A funny thing happened to us on the way to the Sag Harbor Board of Historic Preservation and Architectural Review, a Jefferson Street property owner and his architect told the Zoning Board of Appeals on Tuesday.

“The ARB was absolutely aghast and multiple members of the organization Save Sag Harbor basically reamed me out for proposing to have a house in the back of the property,” architect Anthony Vermandois told the ZBA of the plans of his client, Evan DiPaolo, to build a new house at 10 Jefferson Street.

The objections, he said, were primarily because the new plans called for breaking up a pattern in which most houses are close to the street. The ARB signaled in no unclear terms that they would not be willing to approve it in that location, he said.

“I tried to explain to the ARB that to put the house in the front would require multiple area variances,” Mr. Vermandois said. “We are in a situation where to get this house through the ARB we need to put it in the front.”

“The irony of that is that it doesn’t conform to the zoning code,” he added.

Mr. Vermandois said he had originally proposed an approximately 4,700-square-foot house for the rear portion of the irregularly shaped 0.7-acre lot. But faced with the ARB’s criticism he and Mr. DiPaolo returned to the drawing board and began working on a plan for a slightly smaller house that would be placed closer to the street, but require front and sideyard setback variances as well as a variance from the pyramid law, which regulates a building’s height in relation to its distance from the property line.

“If it was me, I’d build it in the back,” said ZBA member Brendan Skislocki. “I’m trying to figure out how a nice road into the back, how that really destroys the integrity of the streetscape.”

The attorney Dennis Downes, who usually represents applicants in their dealings before the board, this time appeared in opposition, as a neighboring property owner, threatening to sue if the house were approved in its proposed location.

“The ARB has no authority, no authority, to send someone to the ZBA for variances,” Mr. Downes said. “Send this case back to the ARB and tell them to grant whatever permits are required.”

Mr. Downes said he objected to the plans for a number of reasons, saying that most houses along Jefferson Street have 25-to-30 feet of frontage on the street. The DiPaolo house would “cause an undesirable change in the neighborhood,” he said, in part because it would loom over other smaller houses on the street.

Plus, he said, the house would look down over the backyard of his own house on Main Street.  “I don’t want nine windows looking down at me,” he said.

Mr. Downes also questioned Mr. Vermandois’s assertion that the house would be about 4,400 square feet, saying his own calculations led him to believe it would be closer to 5,700 square feet.  “It’s a monstrous house if you put it on that part of the property; it’s not monstrous if you put in in back,” he said.

Mr.  Downes said that a neighbor, Robert Weinstein, had encouraged members of Save Sag Harbor to oppose Mr. DiPaolo’s plans, a charge Mr. Weinstein rejected.

“I did not get a group of Save Sag Harbor Friends to speak about this,” he said. “It was a spontaneous meeting where many members of the community opposed putting a house in the back of the property.”

“All of us have to think about what has been here before historically and what is coming after us,” he added.

Mr. Downes suggested that Mr. DiPaolo could have the kitchen removed from the current house on the property, a ranch that had been constructed by the Santacroce family, and convert that to an accessory structure, thus answering the ARB’s concerns about disrupting the streetscape. Board member Tim McGuire suggested that the idea be pursued as one possible solution and said he was particularly concerned by the extent of the pyramid law variance being requested.

“If the applicant could make this house more conforming, would you be opposed,” board member Scott Baker asked Mr. Downes. “I’m opposed to a two-story house in that location,” he replied.

“Getting on the same page with the ARB is really important,” noted board chairman Anton Hagen, who suggested a joint work session with that board.

“Our job is to grant the least number of variances,” said Mr. Baker.

“Why is this before us? asked Mr. Skisloski, referring to the ARB. “Did they suggest or did they deny?”

“They obviously gave them such a hard time the applicant felt he was going to be denied,” replied the board’s attorney, Denise Schoen.

The board tabled the matter pending a discussion with the ARB and revised plans reducing the need for variances.

Sag Harbor Harbor Committee Approves Cove Road Expansion

Tags: , , , , ,


 

The Sag Harbor Village Harbor Committee on Monday voted to allow Herbert Sambol to undertake a substantial expansion of a 970-square-foot, one-story cottage at 22 Cove Road within 25 feet of the edge of the bluff, although with some misgivings from members about the bluff’s stability.

The committee closed the hearing and agreed it would issue a formal approval next month for an expansion that would include the addition of a second floor and bring the total size of the house to 2,585 square feet as well as the construction of a 300-square-foot pool.

In exchange, Mr. Sambol will be required to return to the committee so it can determine whether or not a plan to replant the bluff proofs effective. If not, he will likely be required to terrace it to provide greater stability.

Committee member Jeff Peters, who abstained from voting, said he was concerned that even though Mr. Sambol will replant the bluff face as part of his project, it will not be enough to forestall continued erosion.

“The water—I don’t care if they have drywells or not, it’s going to trickle down,” said Mr. Peters, who wanted the committee to require that the bluff be terraced as part of the initial approval.

Stephen Clarke, who presided over the meeting in the absence of chairman Bruce Tait, cited concerns of construction equipment operating near the bluff’s edge and requested that Mr. Sambol’s engineer be on-site regularly to make sure they stayed away from the edge.

Richard Warren, the board’s environmental consultant, said he would add language to the approval, specifying those restrictions. “If people say they are going to do it this way, you want to make sure they do it this way,” he said, “That’s the bottom line.”

Mr. Sambol’s attorney, Dennis Downes, suggested that his client be required to return next March, after the winter’s storms, rather than holding up the application for several months. “None of us know what’s going to happen, “ he said.

Aquaponic Farming, Rooftop Garden Proposed for Sag Harbor’s Page at 63 Main

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,


By Tessa Raebeck

Hoping to join the growing farm-to-table food movement on the East End, Page at 63 Main has proposed a greenhouse that would employ aquaponic farming and a rooftop garden to enable the restaurant to grow its vegetables on site.

Aquaponics is farming that combines hydroponics and aquaculture in a symbiotic environment. Through hydroponics, plants are cultivated in water and aquatic animals (in this case fish) are raised through aquaculture. Aquaponics allows the water from the aquaculture system — filled with nutrients from fish by-products — to be then fed into the hydroponic system to fuel the growing plants.

Attorney Dennis Downes represented Gerard Wawryk, one of the owners of the Main Street, Sag Harbor restaurant, at a Sag Harbor Planning Board meeting Tuesday.

The building currently has a footprint of 3,860 square feet, an area the project would not alter. The building’s front portion is two stories, the middle section has a one-story frame and masonry structure and the rear section has two stories. The restaurant occupies the building’s ground floor and the second floor houses a residential apartment.

Although the footprint would not be changed, the proposal would add 835 square feet of space to the existing second floor (which does not currently meet the full footprint) which would be added over the one story middle portion of the building and serve as a seeding area. A partial 481 square foot third floor over the rear potion of the building would serve as a greenhouse and the second story roof would house a garden.

“There is no change in parking or change in sewer,” Downes said Tuesday, adding that water in the tanks would not be going into the sewer as board members had previously wondered.

The plan was first introduced to the planning board in a work session November 26. At Tuesday’s meeting, Downes asked the board to adopt a resolution to send a 30-day letter for lead agency status and to allow the demolition of a gable roof.

Downes said renovations to the kitchen, which did not require approval, are underway and the applicants want to “put a solid roof on top of it that they can then incorporate it into a new building at a later date.”

The board adopted the resolution for lead agency status and entertained a motion to send a memo to building inspector Tim Platt allowing the demolition of the gable roof.

Planning board member Greg Ferraris asked Downes for documentation from an expert verifying the plan, in fact, has no effect to waste management and Downes replied he would have the sewer flow verified.