Tag Archive | "East End Ventures"

$30 Million Lawsuit Against Village of Sag Harbor Dismissed

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A $30 million lawsuit against the Village of Sag Harbor brought by condominium developers East End Ventures was dismissed for a second time last week in federal court. According to one of the principals of East End Ventures, Emil Talel, a second lawsuit brought against the village in state court is also in the process of being dismissed, although court documents were unavailable as of press time.

According to Talel, he and his partner, Michael Maidan, agreed to drop both cases, which have been dismissed with prejudice meaning the suits cannot be brought forth again, after meeting with Sag Harbor Mayor Brian Gilbride. After that meeting, Talel said both he and Maidan felt the best course of action was to dismiss both lawsuits and attempt to revive a project at the property at the center of both cases, 1, 3 and 5 Ferry Road next to the Lance Corporal Haerter Veterans Memorial Bridge.

“After that meeting two weeks ago, we felt that both sides have good intentions to do the right thing and we agreed it was best to dismiss both suits,” said Talel.

“We are happy the applicant has chosen to dismiss these lawsuits and look forward to him coming forward with a project,” said Deputy Mayor Tim Culver.

He added no deals were struck with East End Ventures in order to gain the dismissal and that they would have to adhere to the same planning process as every other applicant.

“We hope they find good use for the property,” said Culver, “and we hope they build something there that is good for the village.”

In August of 2009, East End Ventures filed an article 78 against the Village of Sag Harbor in state court. The developers alleged they were led to believe a proposed 18-unit luxury condominium project at the site would be exempt from the village’s new zoning code. That code drastically reduced the number of units allowed on the property. East End Ventures also charged the village’s application process was flawed and that the new zoning code was not adopted correctly.

East End Ventures followed that suit by levying a $30 million civil action in federal court against Sag Harbor Village, as well as individuals with seats on the Sag Harbor Village Board, the village attorneys and the village’s environmental planning consultant. In that suit, they alleged East End Ventures was specifically discriminated against, noting that the developers of the approved 65-unit condominium project at the former Bulova Watchcase Factory were given exemption from the new village code.

East End Ventures had previously been granted approval to construct condominiums at 21 West Water Street by the Village of Sag Harbor. Three-quarters built, that project stalled two years ago due to lack of financing.

In January of 2011, United States Eastern District Court Judge Leonard D. Wexler dismissed that case, but allowed East End Ventures the right to appeal, which it did.

According to court documents, on May 9 United States District Court Magistrate A. Kathleen Tomlinson signed off on an agreement between attorneys representing both East End Ventures and the Village of Sag Harbor to end the $30 million civil suit. Both parties have also signed off on the dismissal of the Article 78, said Talel.

“As far as I am concerned, this is over,” he said on Tuesday.

Talel said he does intend to revive his application for the Ferry Road parcel sometime in the next month. He added he is also working towards finishing the 21 West Water Street project and hopes to have secured a financing deal by the end of the month.

“My hope is very simple,” he said. “I hope that we will start the process of getting approvals [for the Ferry Road project] and we hope the village will cooperate. “Hopefully we will get approvals to build a project that makes economic sense.”

Developer Says West Water Street Condos Back on Track

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East End Ventures has renewed its building permit for a long dormant condominium project on West Water Street through the Village of Sag Harbor, and according to one of the principals is getting ready to pay off millions of dollars in liens on the property filed by subcontractors over a year ago.

For Sag Harbor Village Mayor Brian Gilbride, no greater gift could be given than avoiding the questions from village residents about the defunct project when he goes to Schiavoni’s Market on Main Street for his coffee each morning.

However, Gilbride said on Monday night that while he hopes East End Ventures is ultimately successful in its bid to finish the luxury condominium project, until he sees actual work being completed on site, after two-and-a-half years of stasis he remains a skeptic.

Over a week ago, East End Ventures re-purchased its building permit for the 21 West Water Street condominium project, a 19-unit development with rooftop pool that already has secured approvals from the Village of Sag Harbor as well as the Suffolk County Health Department.

On Monday evening, East End Ventures principal Emil Talel said that his firm was still in negotiations with Amalgamated Bank — its long-term financer — to reopen its loan and get construction crews back on the property. Talel said he was meeting with Amalgamated Bank next week and hopes that construction would begin before the end of December.

In order to get construction started on the property, one of the first things the newest financing deal will have to contend with is the millions of dollars in liens that have been filed against the project by contractors and subcontractors who have already performed work on the property.

As of July 2010, over $3 million in liens were recorded with the Suffolk County Clerk’s office on the 21 West Water Street property by as many as 30 individuals. At the time, East End Ventures was still in negotiations to renew financing with Amalgamated Bank.

Included in those liens was a claim for $843,072 for materials and labor related to carpentry from the Mount Sinai-based JPR2 Inc. Inter-County Mechanical Corp. also has a $510,241 lien against the property, All Systems Maintenance Inc. has filed a $247,794 lien for plumbing related materials, Southampton Brick & Tile has a $94,340 lien and B&G Electrical Contractors of NY Inc. has filed a $630,274 lien against the property.

On Monday, Talel said the liens would be the first thing paid off once a deal is reached with Amalgamated Bank, or another lender. While the firm is in “good faith negotiations” with Amalgamated Bank, Talel said he has discussed with his partners the possibility of including a new lender.

Rumors have swirled throughout the Village of Sag Harbor that a new partner is getting ready to join the project, although Talel offered no specifics on any individual about to join the development team.

He did add that “the fastest way to finish this development is to do so with the existing lender.”

Sag Harbor Village to Bid on MTA Parcel

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Next Friday, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s Long Island Railroad will auction off a 16,405 square-foot, waterfront property in Sag Harbor – a piece of property both the Village of Sag Harbor and condominium developers East End Ventures plan to bid on.

The property, which is adjacent to village beachfront and East End Ventures property, where they hoped to develop the stalled Ferry Road condominiums, is already the subject of an adverse possession claim by East End Ventures.

That claim has yet to be adjudicated, and according to the MTA’s request for proposal, in addition to the purchase price at a minimum bid of $82,500, whoever takes ownership of the land will become the defendant in that case and must indemnify the MTA and the LIRR in any future lawsuits over the sale of the property.

This week, East End Ventures principal Emil Telal said that after unsuccessful negotiations with the village through the MTA to allow the developers to purchase the land and offer the village easement for a proposed waterfront park, he is prepared to offer a full easement to the village and has instructed his attorney Dennis Downes to do so.

“What was offered originally was a full easement in two stages,” said Telal on Tuesday, with the complete easement guaranteed once the Ferry Road condominiums were approved. That condo project is currently tied up in litigation between East End Ventures and the Village of Sag Harbor after the developers filed a $30 million claim against the village last year. They argue the village, in the revision of its zoning code, specifically sought to stall plans for the proposed luxury condominium project.

That case has yet to be decided.

On Tuesday, Telal said he would have offered the full easement initially if he had been directly involved in negotiations “to illustrate our good intentions.”

“People can walk there, people can sit there and this was my decision on the matter because I didn’t feel it would interfere with anything we would build there one day,” said Telal, adding he believes the village is attempting to purchase the property to further frustrate East End Ventures, which needs ownership of the parcel for access to the waterfront, which would enable them to construct docks, if approved, at the site as part of their development plans.

“Why would you buy it, if you can get it for free,” he asked. “It is an unbelievable disservice to the Village of Sag Harbor. They are going to throw away a minimum of $82,000 and we are confident we will win our adverse possession claim.”

Telal claimed East End Ventures could ultimately get the land for nothing, with the Village of Sag Harbor having to cover tens of thousands of dollars in legal expenses as the new defendant in the case, should they be the winning bidder of the parcel.

Telal believed he had a deal to purchase the property from the MTA and expected the contract to be finalized when the village expressed interest in the property as well, which trustees have said they hope to develop with adjacent beachfront into a waterfront park.

However, according to New York State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr., who is also the attorney for the Village of Sag Harbor, state law regarding public authorities like the MTA has changed, and part of that change requires authorities to publicly auction properties they are trying to dispose of, rather than make deals behind closed doors.

On Tuesday, Telal noted as a part of the original plans for the Ferry Road condominiums, East End Ventures had already planned on creating a public waterfront park at the site at their own expense.

“All of this can be resolved before next Friday,” he added.

On Tuesday, Mayor Brian Gilbride said the only easement the village was offered in negotiations was for an eight-foot wide public walkway.

“It was not total access,” he said. “That was what we wanted – total and complete access.”

Gilbride said East End Ventures does not own the property at this point with the adverse possession claim yet to be decided and therefore a full easement is not something Telal is in a position to negotiate. He added that he is confident the village will be the winning bidder.

“Once all these cases are dismissed, I would absolutely be willing to sit down and work with this developer,” continued Gilbride. “This board is working as hard as we can to get things up and running in the village. That is what is great about Sag Harbor.”

Water Street Condo Project Faces $1.7M in Liens After Building Permit Expires

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The luxury Sag Harbor condominium project known at 21 West Water has $1.7 million in liens filed against it by contractors and suppliers and as of press time has yet to renew its building permit with the Village of Sag Harbor, which will cost developers roughly $45,000.

The waterfront condo project, which was approved over two years ago by the village, is a three-story, 19-unit development proposed to include a rooftop swimming pool and luxury amenities throughout the residences. Michael Maidan and Emil Telal under the limited liability corporation East End Development are the developers of the project. Residences are priced from $1.6 to 4.5 million according to Prudential Douglas Elliman associate broker Robert Evjen, who is the exclusive agent for sales. According to Evjen no contracts have been signed, but there have been five offers made on condos in the building that are in the midst of negotiations.

The duo, under the name East End Ventures, have also proposed a second waterfront condo project at 1, 3 and 5 Ferry Road, although that development has also been stalled after changes to the zoning code prevented it from moving forward as originally proposed. Last month East End Ventures filed two suits against the village to move the project forward as originally proposed and seeking monetary damages to the tune of $30 million.

The suits allege that village officials altered the code to specifically thwart this condo project and that the new village code was adopted without proper environmental review.

Over a week ago, village officials placed a stop work order at 21 West Water Street after discovering its building permit had expired in late 2008. After two 90 day-extensions were granted, village officials stopped work on the project, although project manager Mark D’Andrea said Tuesday he expects the project architects and developers to renew the permit shortly.

“It expired through the normal course of business,” said D’Andrea, who added developers would stay true to the stop work order until the proper paperwork has been filed with the village. D’Andrea said the project, which he says is roughly 90 percent complete, faced delays as a result of difficult winter weather, which pushed its completion back several months.

 “We are so close to the finish line,” he said. 

At the same time, while the project has been stalled, according to records available with the Suffolk County Clerk’s office, local contractors have filed some $1.7 million in liens against the project for unpaid work and materials during the last nine months.

In February, A & F Fire Protection Co. Inc. filed a $25,000 lien against the future sales at the development for engineering, drafting and professional services. D’Andrea said on Tuesday that while they had spoken with the company, their quote was too high. Despite that, he said, A & F hired a draftsman to create plans for the project and are seeking to be paid for that work. D’Andrea maintained that lien is in the process of dismissal.

In September of 2009, Oldcastle Precast filed an $84,000 lien against 21 West Water Street, which D’Andrea said on Tuesday was to pay for their retainer. He said generally that money is kept in escrow until a project is completed and receives its certificate of occupancy.

All Systems Maintenance Inc filed a $247,794 lien on October 2 for plumbing related materials, A Richmond County Stucco & Stone Contractors Inc filed a $102,359 lien on October 5, Southampton Brick & Tile filed a $94,340 lien on October 9, Inter-County Mechanical Corp. filed a $510,241 lien on October 9 and B & G Electrical Contractors of NY Inc. filed a $630,274 lien on October 8.

D’Andrea said those claims are common, filed as a result of construction stopping as the developers await renewal of their building permit.

“When construction stops the bank stops paying, so sometimes people working on-site put liens on the property to keep you motivated,” said D’Andrea. “It is common practice in New York and not at all a sign of financial distress.”

 “None of these contractors is in an adverse relationship with us,” he later maintained.

He added, considering the estimated $30 million the project is worth, $1.7 million in liens does not amount to much of their bottom line.

As for the developers relationship with its bank, Amalgamated Bank of New York, D’Andrea said their loan “is fully funded and in very good shape,” but that the project has seen time delays due to weather and the intricacies of a luxury condo project.

“A building of this quality and intricacy, you can’t rush it,” he said. “It’s like a 12-tier wedding cake. You can’t run down the street with it on your head.”

Sag Harbor Village Named in $30 Million Suit

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Citing a “pattern of harassment and discrimination” by Sag Harbor Village officials to prevent East End Ventures from constructing 18 luxury condominiums and accessory dock slips on village waterfront, this week the principals of that corporation have filed a $30 million civil action against the village.

In addition to the village, Mayor Brian Gilbride, trustee Tiffany Scarlato and former Mayor Greg Ferraris, village attorneys Anthony Tohill and Fred W. Thiele are also named as defendants in the case, as is village environmental planning consultant Rich Warren. The planning and zoning boards are also named in the suit.

At its root, similar to a claim made last month, is the village’s re-write of its zoning code, which occurred while East End Ventures presented its proposal to the village’s planning board. East End Ventures claims it was led to believe it would be exempt from the newly enacted zoning code, which was approved late this spring, when in fact the project was not.

East End Ventures claims it tried to contact the village on a number of occasions to discover if they would be exempt from the new code, which drastically reduces the number of units allowed on the parcels, but never received a response. Their claim is the village’s new code was designed specifically to thwart their project and prevent East End Ventures from being able to sell the property to any other buyer other than the Village of Sag Harbor.

In the suit, East End Ventures paints a portrait of a village, several board members and consultants opposed to the plan from its inception, and cites developer Michael Maidan, which the suit specifically notes is a Russian Jewish immigrant, as one “whose outside manner and presentation were clearly at odds with that of community members.”

East End Ventures attorney, Sam Israel, also points to the hiring of architect Dean Telfer, who was originally brought in by the village to bring the various village boards to consensus on the architecture of the project, and his subsequent firing by village attorney Anthony Tohill as further delaying the proposal’s completion. At the same time, notes Israel, local not-for-profits began fundraising in what Israel calls “efforts expressly aimed at applying continued pressure” on the village “to defeat Michael Maidan’s project by any means necessary.”

Tohill and Warren’s involvement in the zoning code revision, as well as the planning board’s attorney and consultant in both the Ferry Road condo application and the approved Bulova Watchcase Factory application – two of three large scale condos on the village’s docket in the last five years including Maidan’s approved West Water Street– is noted in the suit. On Tuesday Trustee Tiffany Scarlato, also a defendant in the case, said any inference that the two positions posed a conflict for Tohill was unreasonable.

“There is no conflict to my knowledge,” she said. “That is what I did [in the Town of East Hampton]. It is extremely common for attorneys working in a municipality to serve both positions. I write codes for the town and I am the planning board attorney. I was also involved in the rezoning in East Hampton and its Comprehensive Plan. That is just the way it is.”

Village attorney Thiele, also a state assemblyman, is also noted as being involved in a CONPOSH forum Israel says was dedicated to advancing the village’s acquisition of the property. Thiele is also mentioned as using his position as a State Assemblyman to further Mayor Gilbride’s recent battle with the Metropolitan Transit Authority to secure a piece of land adjacent to the Ferry Road parcel.

In addition to the $30 million sought by the developers, the suit also aims to prevent the village from acquiring the MTA land, and declare the condo project exempt from the new zoning code.

On Tuesday, Scarlato denied the code was re-written with the Ferry Road parcel in mind.

“There was a comprehensive plan done for the entire Village Business District, not directed at any one property at all,” she said.

“I think their lawsuit in all is baseless and without merit,” added Thiele on Wednesday. “I have seen these before and they are in my way of thinking the desperate gasp of someone with a failed investment.”

Maureen Liccione, the attorney who will represent the village in the case, said on Wednesday she planned to advise the village to seek a dismissal of the suit, citing similar cases in Westhampton Beach.

“Our firm succeed in a motion to dismiss without a trial in a case with very similar accusations against the Village of Westhampton Beach,” she said.

Luciano said, in part, this is due to the naming of consultants and attorneys in the case, who she said cannot be liable in such a suit as they are not government officials.

“I think the courts want to avoid a killing effect in regards to people doing their jobs,” said Luciano. “It is one thing to disagree, but quite another to call that a Constitutional violation.”

Village Braces for Second Suit over Waterfront Condos

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The village of Sag Harbor has been served with a notice of claim by East End Ventures, the firm that has sought to construct 18 condominiums on Sag Harbor’s waterfront. The claim lays the groundwork for a possible multi-million lawsuit against the village over a new village code that drastically changes what development is legal on the parcel known to village residents as Ferry Road.

The same firm has already filed suit against the village over the enactment of the village code, which they allege was done without proper environmental review.

During a Sag Harbor Village Board of Trustees meeting on Tuesday, September 8, Mayor Brian Gilbride confirmed the village had received the notice of claim. According to village attorney Fred W. Thiele, Jr. such an action is required before a formal lawsuit seeking monetary damages can be filed against a municipality.

The notice of claim charges that the village “acted in bad faith in delaying [East End Ventures’] applications while the zoning code was changed.” In addition to seeking monetary relief, the notice of claim also asks East End Ventures’ proposal for 18 waterfront condos and 18 accessory boat slips be reviewed under the old village code.

In addition to prohibiting the construction of three-story buildings, which was proposed by the developers, the new code also reduces the number of units allowed on the parcel by more than half. In July, building inspector Tim Platt informed the Sag Harbor Planning Board, which has been reviewing a number of different proposals for the property over the last two years, that the current project did not comply with the new village code, effectively ending the review.

In related news, Mayor Gilbride said a title search was currently underway regarding a parcel located between the Ferry Road property and village owned beachfront. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority announced last month it intended to sell the property to East End Ventures, despite village requests since 1996 that the authority sell the land to the village with an ultimate goal of creating a public park next to the Lance Corporal Haerter Veterans Memorial Bridge.

Budget Woes

Sag Harbor Trustees are closely watching the current village budget, facing unexpected increases in retirement benefit costs as well as a decrease in transient dock rentals.

On Tuesday, Gilbride said the cost of the village’s retirement system for civil service employees and police officers could increase by $100,000 in February. According to Gilbride, New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli informed municipalities that the state has seen a 27 percent decrease in investment revenues for the system.

“What happens is when the plan earns more in interest our contribution is less,” explained Gilbride on Wednesday. “In real hard times, when we can least afford it, our contribution goes up.”

Gilbride said increases may not be limited to this year alone. The village is currently exploring pending state legislation that would allow the village to pay for the increase over a 10 year period, said Gilbride, but may choose instead to pay upfront depending on the interest rate the state offers municipalities under the amortization plan.

In other budget news, trustee Tim Culver announced the village’s transient dock revenues are down $8000 from projected revenues in the current village budget, although Labor Day revenues have yet to be calculated. Last budget cycle trustees planned for a decrease, budgeting $25,000 less in revenue from the harbors and docks.

“It may turn out we are right on budget,” said Culver.

However, trustees said use of the village docks was noticeably down this season.

“This is the first year we have actually had slips available and sometimes there are even vacant slips down there and that never, never has happened,” said Gilbride.

Justice Court Talks Renewed

On Tuesday, the board voted to support a grant application for the Town of Southampton for the creation of video arraignments in its justice court, although Sag Harbor Village Police Chief Tom Fabiano said he would like to see talks of a Sag Harbor Village Justice Court renewed.

With discussions of Southampton Town moving its justice court out of its village and into Hampton Bays, talk of a village court has been on the table since 2004. After lawsuits, the addition of a fourth judge in Southampton Town, talk of video arraignments and the town’s continued use of its Southampton court, trustees pulled back from the concept in 2007.

“The video arraignment is nice, but it will not resolve the issues we have,” said Fabiano on Tuesday, citing transportation costs, loss of potential revenues and a lack of control as reasons to re-open discussions about a village justice court.

“Southampton Village went to its own court and it has been more profitable and they have had more control over village issues,” said Fabiano.

Madison Street resident Patricia Field approached the board on Tuesday night, objecting to Stacey Pennebaker’s requests to expand an accessory housing law to include detached units. Under the current code, accessory apartments are allowed as attached units. Pennebaker has approached the board on a number of occasions asking them to broaden the law in favor of creating more affordable housing opportunities.

Field charged that Pennebaker, who is her neighbor, has made these requests for personal reasons, alleging a barn on Pennebaker’s property has been converted into an illegal apartment.

On Wednesday, Pennebaker said this is “a private dispute between two neighbors that regrettably has become public.” She said she would cooperate with village officials as they look into the matter.

In other village news, the board granted village planner Richard Warren of Inter-Science Research Associates permission to increase water quality testing at Havens Beach after rain events in order to test more locations at the bathing beach. The village is hoping current testing will identify a source of contamination in a stormwater runoff ditch at the bathing beach so they may remediate the area.

“It certainly seems like the right thing to do,” said Gilbride

“Without a doubt,” said Trustee Tiffany Scarlato.




Village May Consider Taking MTA Property

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Sag Harbor’s Mayor Brian Gilbride is so determined that the village take over a piece of land near the waterfront that he is considering condemning it.

The sliver of land — a former roadbed owned by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority that once led to the original bridge leading to North Haven — is currently in contract to be sold to East End Ventures, a development company that has proposed to build a condominium complex on the adjacent property at the foot of the current bridge. The land the roadbed sits on would help mitigate the variance the developer needs for the project and, in one plan, would be used to access the proposed 18 boat slips that would go along with the condos.

But the village would like to marry the parcel to waterfront property it already owns, and create a park that would serve as a gateway to the village for people coming across the bridge.

“This really fits into the village’s plan for a park,” said Gilbride this week.

Gilbride and the village were peeved when the MTA announced recently that it intended to sell to the developer, since the village had made several overtures in recent years hoping to acquire it themselves. About ten years ago, in fact, the village had actually commissioned a landscape design for the property by renowned landscape architect Edmund Hollander.

Gilbride said in an interview Tuesday that condemnation through eminent domain was “certainly an option” and he would raise the subject when the village board meets this coming Tuesday.

“We’ve been advised by our attorneys that his was a way to go,” said Gilbride of condemnation.

The relationship between the village and the developer has become more combative in recent weeks, with the developer filing a suit against the board and others charging a recently-approved zoning code was intended to discourage its development of the property known as 1 Ferry Road, the former Dr. Harry Diner property, at the foot of the bridge. Last week the village received a notice of claim from East End Ventures which, among other things, told the village “to stop talking to the MTA,” according to Gilbride.

“I mean, this is still America isn’t it,” said the mayor, who called the action “an insult.”

The developers said they would agree to give the village access to the property for a pedestrian walkway, but Gilbride said, in a plan he saw, “at one point the walkway seems to go into the water.”

“It’s unacceptable,” said the mayor, adding that, coupled with the “threat” from the notice of claim, he felt the village had been insulted twice.

According to their agreement, East End Ventures will pay fair market value — or $82,500 — for the piece of property. If the village were to go ahead with condemnation proceedings, Gilbride feels they may be able to get it for less, since they already have an easement on the property. 

Gilbride Vows to Fight for Waterfront Parcel

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On Tuesday night, following an executive session of the Sag Harbor Village Trustees, the board agreed to hire attorneys Denise Schoen and Brian Lester to explore countering an agreement by the Long Island Railroad’s Metropolitan Transit Authority to sell 16,000 square feet of property adjacent to village-owned waterfront to a condo developer rather than the village.

The decision followed a contentious village board meeting where, despite public support for the purchase, Trustee Tiffany Scarlato publicly opposed a continued fight for ownership of the parcel. Scarlato, who also voted against hiring Schoen and Lester to explore the matter further, cited legal concerns as the impetus for her decision. She noted East End Ventures, the company that has sought to adversely possess the MTA parcel as a part of their 18-unit luxury condo plan, is an applicant in front of the village’s planning board.

“I think the board has to do some serious thinking about the potential costs of engaging in litigation with a current applicant and the benefits of doing that,” said Scarlato.

Village attorney Fred W. Thiele, Jr. strongly urged the board to cease conversation on the subject until it had adjourned into executive session.

At Tuesday’s village board meeting, several members of the community, including Save Sag Harbor board member April Gornik, Save Sag Harbor President Mia Grosjean and American Hotel owner Ted Conklin all expressed their gratitude to Gilbride for pursuing the property. In late July, Gilbride sent the last of several letters from the village to the MTA requesting they sell the property to the village, which has expressed interest in turning an adjacent waterfront parcel next to the Lance Corporal Haerter Veteran Memorial Bridge into a public park.

This week, Gilbride received a letter from vice president of the LIRR Christine Rinaldi announcing the authority intended to sell the property to East End Ventures at fair market value and that an easement granted to the village in 1915 was extinguished in 1930 when state Route 114 was rerouted and the parcel in question was no longer used for highway purposes.

“As a condition of the sale, East End Ventures has agreed to grant an easement to the general public across the property for the construction of a walkway,” writes Rinaldi in the letter, although the details of the easement have yet to be finalized.

“Don’t think for one minute that I am rolling over,” said Gilbride on Tuesday night. “I told [Rinaldi] I intend to vigorously fight for this for the residents.”





New Proposal for Ferry Road; Challenge to Parcel Ownership

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By Marissa Maier and Bryan Boyhan

Developers for the planned condominium complex on Ferry Road adjacent to the bridge in Sag Harbor have proposed what they hope will be a plan that will satisfy local boards who have been skeptical and critical of previous incarnations.

At the same time, a local organization has commissioned a title survey for the property, the results of which challenge the developer’s ability to build as large a project as proposed.

Mark D’Andrea, project manager for developer Michael Maidan’s East End Ventures delivered to the village this week a design he said addresses most, if not all, the concerns the village’s boards and the community have about the project.

It is, he said, smaller and offers a less intensive use of the property.

“We could, by right, have 40 units there,” claimed D’Andrea last week. Instead, the current plan is for 18 units, the same number as proposed last year, but still fewer than the 22 when the project was first pitched two years ago.

The most recent plan also features a new architect, Kathryn Fee of Bridgehampton.

Fee proposes to break the development up into five separate buildings. There will be small streets around the buildings to create the feeling of a “village within a village.”

    ”The concept is to break down the massive feeling, and create more of a townhouse façade,” said Fee. In earlier proposals, the development was housed in one large brick building. Fee said separating the units into townhouse buildings was more consistent with the architectural character of the village.

    With the new design, four buildings will have three units and will surround a center building, containing six units. Each of these buildings will use different colored brick material to make the buildings look like “they had evolved over time.” Every unit will have a balcony. Fee also designed gardens on two rooftops.

    In addition to the rooftop gardens, Fee incorporated several eco-friendly building features into the design of the project. Insulated concrete form will be used for the buildings, which lessens the amount of energy needed to heat and cool the units. Fee also integrated the use of efficient gas boilers, which are activated only when a person is occupying the unit.

    Overall these green building designs will increase the price of development by almost seven percent, said Fee. She added that this percentage will probably translate to a few hundred thousands dollars.

    Fee hopes the project will receive a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification, and believes this certification will make the project more agreeable to the village. Fee’s design concept was already presented to the village’s Historical Preservation and Architectural Review board last fall. During these meetings, Fee said her designs received favorable feedback from the board.

But ownership of an abandoned road may stand in the way of the project moving forward.

At issue is a parcel of land once used as an approach to the first bridge that crossed between Sag Harbor and North Haven. In the late 1800s, the Long Island Rail Road acquired, through condemnation, much of the property that East End Ventures hopes to develop. The LIRR in the early part of the last century granted an easement on that property to the village for a road that led to that bridge, which was several hundred feet further to the west than the current bridge.

The bridge was eventually moved in the 1930s, and the access road abandoned. In the ensuing years the land owned by the railroad was sold to a succession of owners, including former Sag Harbor mayor James McMahon, members of the Remkus family, and members of the Diner family, all who used the property — including the road bed — to some degree.

But whether the road bed itself was actually transferred from the rail road company to any of the successive owners remains a question.

“The subject had come up in several public meetings,” said Save Sag Harbor member April Gornik, “and we felt we wanted to spend the money to find out ourselves.”

The proposal as designed would need the 15-feet to the center line of that road — which East End Ventures claims it owns — in order to meet set back requirements.

The group hired attorney Marcia Finkelstein of Lamb & Barnosky, who in turn commissioned First American Title Insurance Company of New York to do a title search on the property.

Their findings indicate that none of the successive transfers of title, from the time the rail road owned the property, included the road bed. A description of the transferred property, in metes and bounds, seems to specifically exclude the road bed, and in fact uses its southern edge to create a border for the old rail road property. Maps indicate the land on the northern side of the road bed belong to Sag Harbor Village, and on one map provided with the search, the piece of road is simply listed as former state road 114. It does not even include a tax map number, the report says.

“East End Ventures does not own it,” said Finkelstein in an interview this week.

But Dennis Downes, attorney for East End Ventures — and for the Diner family — disagrees.

“The rail road property included everything to the center line,” Downes maintained in an interview this week, and contrary to the title search commissioned by Save Sag Harbor, says that when the rail road sold the property to McMahon, the southerly side of the road bed went with it.

In April, on behalf of East End Ventures, Downes filed an action for adverse possession of the narrow strip of property, and he argues that all of the previous owners back to McMahon regularly made use of the abandoned road bed, ultimately giving them the rights to it.

But claiming land through adverse possession is tough, especially when it involves a government entity.

“You can’t claim public land through adverse possession,” said village attorney Fred Thiele, adding the piece, whether owned by the LIRR or the state, would still be government property. The LIRR, he said, was under the Metropolitan Transit Authority, a state agency.

Downes disagreed, saying “it wouldn’t be the first time” governmental land was annexed via adverse possession.

“That will be for the court to decide,” he said.

“Clearly the road bed was for a public benefit,” continued Thiele, and argued that, if the LIRR or state were to give up the property, it would more likely go to another public agency, such as the village which owns the adjoining land.

But an argument over ownership would not necessarily derail the project, said Thiele. As long as the developers have an insured title to the property, the application for developing the property can go through the process.

“Obviously, though,” said Thiele, “if we have other information that put a cloud over this, we wouldn’t ignore it.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Demanding a Design

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For over two years now, the proposed condo project at 1, 3 and 5 Ferry Road has evolved, then regressed, seemingly never finding its footing or a concrete plan to bring to the public.

 

This haphazard method for presenting what is likely one of the most debated projects to darken the waterfront of Sag Harbor has done not only a disservice to a community trying to digest such a grand proposal, but also to the applicants themselves.

We believe the architecture, size and scale of this proposed development is the cornerstone to its success or failure, and we have yet to see a single design that comes even close to achievement on these fronts. We have heard a new design is waiting in the wings, penned by a new, local architect and we hope the aesthetic offered in this new plan has evolved beyond the pseudo-industrial, institutional-style of the current proposal and also strays from the ski-chalet design of Ferry Road’s sister condo project at West Water Street. 

We would also hope the size and scale of this project have been addressed to more suitably fit into Sag Harbor’s visual landscape than previous attempts. Whether or not they bought this property knowing this parcel’s significance to the surrounding community, we would find it difficult to believe in two years this very fact has not rung loud and clear in the ears of East End Ventures.
This being said, until the public has the opportunity to review these plans we find it difficult to understand how Sag Harbor residents or its planning board can truly identify possible adverse impacts associated with the aesthetics of this proposed building, let alone assess the visual impact the three-story structure will have on our community.
We urge East End Ventures to formally submit any new plans to the planning board immediately so the public may weigh in on these all too important issues before scoping is completed. To do anything less would continue this trend of disservice, to the Sag Harbor community, and to the developer who claims to want to be a part of it.