Tag Archive | "Ferry Road"

Defining The Issues At Ferry Road

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The clock is ticking for the Sag Harbor Planning Board as they attempt to craft a list of potential impacts that need to be hashed out as a proposed condominium project at 1, 3 and 5 Ferry Road begins what is likely to be a lengthy environmental review.

On Thursday, October 16 at 6:30 p.m. the planning board will meet in a work session to hammer out a final list of issues they would like to see explored in the review of the proposed 18-unit condo project, which also is designed to include 18-accessory boat slips on one of the last vacant parcels of Sag Harbor’s waterfront.

On Tuesday, September 23, throngs of Sag Harbor residents, as well as residents from surrounding neighborhoods packed the Municipal Building to discuss potential impacts they see with the planned 43,040 square foot luxury development. The scale of the project and its impact on waterfront vistas, insuring public access to adjacent waterfront and protection of natural resources are among the issues already raised. Village environmental planning consultant Richard Warren had also provided the board with a laundry list of concerns he felt should be explored. The planning board’s task will now be to meld Warren’s suggestions, along with resident concerns, into an inventory of issues the applicant, East End Ventures, must publicly vet.

The Ferry Road project, as it has come to be known, has been in the pipeline for two years now, in several incarnations. Public opposition to the development emerged last year, as a discussion about important waterfront vistas and public access to the waterfront emerged as a central theme in the Ferry Road debate.

Architecturally, several plans have been developed for the project by at least three groups of designers; although according to project manager Mark D’Andrea a Sag Harbor architect has been hired by the firm to redesign the building again. Plans, however, have yet to be submitted to the board.

Regardless, the board is on a strict deadline for the submission of its list of issues to the applicant. The board must have a formal submission made by November 4 and will take next Thursday’s meeting to hash out what they think prior to adopting the catalog of concerns at its regular meeting on Tuesday, October 28. 

Neil Slevin

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The Sag Harbor resident and new chairman of the planning board discusses a village in flux and the challenges facing government during times of great change.

Sag Harbor has been in the midst of a great deal of change, including a number of development projects in the heart of the village. Understanding that as a planning board chairman you view each application individually and on its own merits, what is your personal take on development in the village?

Well, I think, aside from the fact that development is an inevitability, I suppose, in general, development can be a good thing. In Sag Harbor’s case, which is different, I think what we have seen is a lot of redevelopment and redevelopment can be good when you are talking about derelict properties like the Bulova building. Development becomes a bit more of a question mark when you are talking about losing open space, for example. So I guess, the only the only thing I can say about development right now is it is clear that as a result of this incredible boom, the pressure on Sag Harbor became very intense. It will be very interesting to see whether that pressure lessens somewhat now, and I suspect it will.

That is an interesting point. With the economy where it is currently, there have been two condo projects the planning board has already approved in the Bulova Factory and at West Water Street and you are in the midst of an environmental review on a third. How many condos does one village need and should that be considered?

I think absolutely. In fact, at the scoping session for the development of Ferry Road, [Sag Harbor Inn co-owner Nathiel] Egosi mentioned something that I had actually raised to the applicant’s attorney at an earlier meeting, which is, what if this fails? What will it be like for the Village of Sag Harbor if we have a substantially larger building than has ever been there before sitting empty? And I don’t think that question is idle speculation … the Bulova building did go derelict, so I actually think this is a valid question – not just a valid question, but the key question in front of all the boards as we go through this process. What is it that we need? What is more than we need? What should we have in any place whether it be the waterfront or the heart of downtown in the business district?

The village’s revamp of its zoning code should help dictate just that. Sag Harbor is in the midst of this zoning code re-write, which you were actually a pretty big part of, working with village attorney Anthony Tohill, village planner Richard Warren, mayor Greg Ferraris and trustee Tiffany Scarlato. What was, in your mind, the most important thing that needed to be protected in the re-write of the zoning code?

I think Greg Ferraris stated it very well early on in the process. As you know, Tiffany Scarlato was the one who was really urging that the code be looked at in a comprehensive way and changed as necessary because it really has been 20 years. In the early meetings, Greg was able to articulate what, at the end of the day, we are actually trying to accomplish. It was really a very simple statement, but kind of an astounding challenge to everyone, and particularly in light of the fact that I think Greg realizes that development and redevelopment are necessary. What he said was that what we now have in Sag Harbor is a pretty nice place. People are coming out of every corner of the community, of late, and basically in their own way, and in different ways, saying this place is terrific. We want it to remain terrific. And what Greg was saying was that we need to, on one hand, maintain that wonderful ambiance we now have and, on other hand, we have to construct a code that allows for appropriate development, appropriate change. The key is, we have a gem – it’s a cliché, but it really is true. I have a friend, who lives in a really nice golf community in North Carolina. He came up two summers ago and we went to lunch at The Dockside with his wife and he turned to me and said, why would you ever think about leaving this place? And I said, I don’t … I know everyone feels that way, but we can get caught up in everything that we are doing, like starting a family, where we forget, we are pretty lucky. When I walk to the village, or walk down West Water Street, I stop and think, whoa, this is two blocks from where I live. This is pretty nice.

One issue that has come up, and you certainly are familiar with the Bulova application, is the need for affordable housing in Sag Harbor. It was an application that did have a lot of support from a number of members of the community, but there were also a number of members of the community who really wanted to see on-site affordable housing. Now that the application has been approved, how do you feel about the planning board’s decision and is there anything different you wish the board had done?

Oh no. I know it was the right decision for me, and the community. Having said that — and I tried to say this during this whole conversation about this issue — the people who highlighted the affordable housing issue did a tremendous job. They might have been accused of beating a dead horse, but they really, really did a tremendous job. I can remember attending one of the early meetings where the developer came and spoke to community groups to talk about what they wanted to do, and one person, maybe two brought up the issue of affordable housing. I can remember when they brought that issue up to the developer, thinking to myself, you have to be crazy. At that point, without having seen the numbers, I knew the cost of developing that property was going to be so high, no one would ever think about putting affordable housing in, nor did I think it was possible to force them to put it in.

What I realized throughout the next two years was, nothing happens that isn’t forced. The status quo is a hard thing to push against and you need people like those affordable housing advocates to push against things because they make you take a step back and ask, why can’t we do this? I think, largely as a result of their efforts, we now have $2.5 million in seed money for the village housing trust. I don’t know that without their efforts the community would have understood that we do have a right to say to a developer, you cannot just come in and make money off a community without the community having the opportunity to get some advantage back.

One of the biggest arguments the affordable housing advocates had was you cannot have a village of empty houses. I mean, weekenders are wonderful and a valid part of our community, but they cannot serve on the boards. And some are not even weekenders – they only come a few times a year. That is not good, it’s not healthy. And when Greg Ferraris said we want to keep the village as much like it is now, going into the future, I would say the same about the people we have here. We need regular people, because it is the regular people that will be the contributing members of the community.

How do you think village government has been handling this flux in the village?

It’s been great the way [the board of trustees] have handled things. In comparison to what we have had in the past, village government has been so much more open and competent in the face of challenges. Everyone thinks it is so easy …

Speaking of, you have served the village for some time now. Would you ever consider running for an elected position in village government?

I don’t. I am retired and I would like to be able to get away more than I have in the last two years. I would like to be away from here, as most people would, in the really cold months. The cold weather tends to keep you indoors, unless you are George Pharaoh and enjoy slogging around in cold water, which I don’t. So, I don’t think it’s in the cards; but what I have been doing is racking my brains thinking about who I can suggest to run for office or serve on one of these boards.

What do you see as future issues the village will face?

I think there is going to be an acknowledgment that the housing issue is an important issue for the simple reason that otherwise we will have an empty village – it will be hollow, there will be no one here. We will have to hope the people who decorate their lights at Christmas use timers because otherwise when I take my walks through the village during the holidays there will not be any Christmas trees or lights. And I don’t want that, nor does anyone else, including the people who aren’t here. I think what those people want to buy into and are spending all this money for, is they want a place that is like you want it to be. That is what they are paying for – the nice thing the long time members of the community have created and so we are protecting all our interests. Part of that is: how many high end condos do we need? Is that a further contribution to the community or is it an exacerbation of a problem we all recognize?

I think the zoning code that is being finally worked out now will contain some important changes that will protect the character of the downtown … Ralph Lauren, I walked by it the other day, and it’s a nice window. Hey, I like those clothes, I wear his clothes, but I can go to Vero Beach and go to Ralph Lauren. Again, it’s another cliché, but what we have here, it works and we would like to keep 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.

 

Catalog of Concerns Over Condos

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It was as if Jeff Bragman said it all.


Despite the fact that over 100 people gathered at the planning board meeting in Sag Harbor on Tuesday night to discuss concerns about a proposed 18-unit condo project on the village’s waterfront, once Bragman listed dozens of his group’s concerns, only a handful of other residents seemed to have something to add.

 

 

Bragman, an attorney, represented Save Our Waterfront, a sister organization of Save Sag Harbor, which formed in opposition to the proposed development of 1, 3 and 5 Ferry Road. The parcels currently house the former Diner building and the old Remkus fishing station and are situated between 7-Eleven and the Sag Harbor-North Haven Bridge.

 

Michael Maidan is one of a group of developers in East End Ventures, a limited liability corporation, seeking to demolish the current buildings on the property and develop a 43,040 square-foot, three-story, 18-unit project with 18 accessory boat slips, 36 on-site parking spaces and an in-ground pool.

 

The project has not been without its share of controversy as public opposition formed to the development. Several residents sought to have the Town of Southampton use Community Preservation Funds (CPF) to purchase the property for a public park. The developers were not willing sellers, however, a critical aspect of any CPF purchase.

The scale of the project and its effect on vistas in Sag Harbor have been debated in the village — in board meetings and in community forums — for over two years now.

 

The Sag Harbor planning board has already decided the project has the potential to have a significant adverse environmental impact on the village, but on Tuesday it was the residents’ turn to express their concerns and entreat the board on issues they feel should be given a hard look.

 

Sag Harbor Village environmental planning consultant Rich Warren opened the meeting by stressing the forum was not for people seeking to talk about the merits of the project, or lack thereof, but specifically to address potential impacts. Public hearings will be held on the project as a whole at a future date.

 

“We are not here to burden the process because sometimes if you burden the process you can’t see the forest through the trees,” cautioned Warren.

 

Planning board chairman Neil Slevin also asked the crowd to refrain from repeating the same concerns over and over again.

 

“We know why you are here,” said Slevin. “We know everyone is concerned the right thing be done.”

 

Bragman began the evening by presenting a litany of concerns in rapid-fire speed, prompting Warren at one point to ask the attorney if he would supply the list in writing, as he was having trouble keeping up.

 

Bragman’s list included whether submitted site plans and surveys are accurate, and asked for more details on the ownership of an abandoned, adjacent roadway and underwater lands next to the parcel, as well as whether lot coverage calculations are correct. He also asked for new surveys showing navigational channels— given the dock portion of the application and the potential impacts that arise from that portion of the application alone — and about the impacts on shellfish and marine life and whether the applicant should include a pump-out station for its marina facilities.

 

Of particular concern, he noted, is ensuring public access to lands directly adjacent to the property will not interrupted; but as the village’s Local Waterfront Revitalization Plan (LWRP) mandates, is instead fostered by any development on the waterfront.

 

Bragman also asked for an assessment of natural features, noting that the project will involve “a massive manmade alteration of the shoreline area,” in a village that has an LWRP that asks wetlands be restored, which he would like to see the applicant tackle as a part of the project.

 

“I call this plan a fortress plan,” said Bragman, stating the project proposes 500 linear feet of retaining wall, the effects of which should also be looked at closely.

 

 “This site, if you think about it, is the jewel in the crown of Sag Harbor,” said Bragman, who noted that in addition to a comprehensive view-shed study, his group would like to see a detailed architectural explanation for what they see as a design closely resembling “a mid-island garden apartment.”

 

“There should be a really clear, crisp narrative about why this design minimizes visual impacts,” said Bragman. He also asked for mitigation plans including alternatives that revise the design of the building, lower the height, lower the density, create a more compact footprint and even relocate the building.

 

He also asked the board demand information on water quality, runoff, flooding and sewer capacity.

 

“I would like to see a map that has some wetland compliance on it,” said Bragman, noting a proposed pool and other structures look like they may be within 25 feet of wetlands. Current village code asks for a minimum buffer of 25 feet to wetlands.

 

Resident Pierce Hance, a former mayor of Sag Harbor, also touched on the importance of the LWRP in the board’s review of this project.

 

“It is one of the major documents we have to control and manage change in our village,” said Hance.

 

Hance noted one policy states project designs should be consistent – in terms of mass and scale – with the rest of the village. The LWRP also has policies that mandate the village provide visual access to coast lands and protect visual access points. The encouragement of new scenic views through development and re-development is encouraged, and the village is charged with protecting and improving the visual quality of Sag Harbor in the LWRP, noted Hance.

 

The view of Sag Harbor from the Sag Harbor-North Haven Bridge is included in the LWRP as a visual perspective showing the characteristics of the village that should be protected, added Hance with flourish, displaying the image to an applauding audience.

 

Nathiel Egosi, whose family owns the Sag Harbor Inn, also expressed reservations about the development, questioning the effect of the three-story building on marine life.

 

Egosi also questioned what the impact of adding a new, residential building to the commercial area would be, as well as what contingencies are in place should the units not sell in a troubled economy.

 

“Vacant and unsold condos would bring an unsettled feeling to our tourist trade,” said Egosi.

 

The Group for the East End also submitted a letter to the board, stating their biggest concern is the sheer scale of the project, as well as the impact on community character as a whole. Ownership and public access, runoff, the effects of dredging and sewage capacity are also on the Group’s radar as potentially posing problems.

 

East End Ventures already submitted a draft scope on September 4, meaning the board has until November 4 to adopt its final list of issues. To that end, the board will meet on October 16 at 6:30 p.m. for a special work session.

 

 

Condo Developer Offers Bay Street New Theatre

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Will the Bay Street Theatre find a new home on West Water Street next to Baron’s Cove Inn in Sag Harbor in a theatre built for them by the developers of the approved West Water Street condos and the proposed Ferry Road condos?

According to Bay Street Theatre board chairman Frank Filipo and theatre general manager Tracey Mitchell, the theatre’s number one priority is signing a lease with current building owner Patrick Malloy III and continuing their operations in Sag Harbor.

“Right now we are focused on continuing the great relationship we have had with Pat Malloy,” said Filipo on Wednesday. “If anything more came of this it would be our responsibility to talk about it on the board level, but right now this is completely out of the blue.”

Filipo stressed the board’s main goal was staying in the theatre’s current space on Long Wharf and working out a lease agreement with Malloy.

“There is no arrangement,” he said in regards to Michael Maidan’s proposal. “I wasn’t even aware of this.”

Filipo was not present at a Tuesday morning meeting between members of the Bay Street Theatre management team and Michael Maidan, Emil Talel – two of the principals behind the West Water Street and Ferry Road condo projects – but Mitchell was, and echoed Filipo’s statements about the theatre’s priorities.

“We had a preliminary meeting,” she said. “These men came to us and wanted to bring us their ideas for putting a theatre there. That was really the extent of it.”

Mitchell added anyone who calls the theatre with opportunities are heard out, and management is happy to discuss ideas and concepts, but the theatre is in the middle of trying to resign its lease with Malloy and that remains the number one priority.

Mark D’Andrea, project manager for the West Water Street and Ferry Road projects, who was also at Tuesday’s meeting, said his bosses walked away from the meeting knowing a deal was not in place, but confident it went well.

“It could not have gone better,” he said.

D’Andrea presented a footprint of the proposed theater and drawings, he said, to what he perceived as an ecstatic group. On Wednesday, he said he was ready to move forward with the plan, which in his concept involves a 299-seat, triangular-shaped theatre facing the water with a second story community space.

When asked if this project would move forward whether or not the village approves the controversial Ferry Road project, his answer was “of course.”

“This is not a bait and switch,” he said.

Last month, during a discussion of the Ferry Road project at the Sag Harbor planning board, D’Andrea said the developers of the project were willing to build a new theatre for the community, and were also considering buying the former Methodist Church as a community center. Village attorney Anthony Tohill halted the discussion, noting either purchase pertained to the Ferry Road project.

D’Andrea said he was told by architects from Incorporated Architectural Design – the architects who designed the West Water Street project – that he could legally construct the theatre and the plan conformed with setbacks.

However, the plan does not conform with current or proposed zoning in regard to uses. The parcel is zoned Resort-Motel, which is pretty much all that can be built there. Theatres are not permitted uses under the proposed or current code.

D’Andrea said his team has also started construction on a public lighted pathway in front of Barron’s Cove. The hope, he said, is to have the walkway extend through the village to Windmill Beach, although the cooperation of other landowners in Sag Harbor will be needed to bring that plan to fruition.

 Above: The site plan for a proposal the condo developers at West Water Street and Ferry Road have shared with management at the Bay Street Theatre. THe theatre is the triangular space, in pink, on the left hand side of the drawing. 

 

 

 

Applicants May Need To Cover Review Costs

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George Butts was sworn in as Village of North Haven Trustee during the Monday, July 7 meeting. (k menu photo)

In order to ensure taxpayers in the Village of North Haven are not paying for the review of a private project, the board of trustees has introduced a law where those costs would have to be paid for by the applicant, rather than the village.

During the regular and re-organizational meeting on Monday, July 7 Mayor Laura Nolan introduced the bill to the rest of the board, which set a public hearing on the law for their next meeting, Tuesday, August 5 at 5 p.m.

The law aims to allow the village to charge applicants for professional consultants the various village boards need during the review of a project — whether it be for site plan approval, special permits, subdivisions, lot line modifications, variances, architectural review or other processes. In the case where the village feels it needs an engineer, environmental expert, planner or other professional to ensure a review is thorough, the village would have the right to bill back the applicant. Simply having a consultant in attendance at a meeting would not constitute an acceptable charge to an applicant, unless it is a special meeting, called in part to address a particular application.

Village clerk Georgia Welch noted the village code already ensures coverage for aspects of environmental review; but this law would expand that to ensure all environmental review fees are covered by the applicant, not the taxpayers of North Haven.

“The taxpayers as a whole should not be paying for an individual’s project,” said Welch.

In other village news, incumbent mayor Laura Nolan, incumbent trustee James Morrissey and new trustee George Butts were sworn in during Monday’s meeting. Trustee Jeff Sander was named deputy mayor.

Butts served on the North Haven zoning board of appeals for 18 years prior to his election to the board, most recently as chairman. He replaces Fred Stelle on the board of trustees, who chose not to run citing personal and professional reasons. Mark Poitras was sworn in on Monday as the new chairman of the zoning board of appeals.

Ferry Road

In other village news, the trustees took a look at the condominium project at 1, 3 and 5 Ferry Road, which was sent to them by the Sag Harbor Planning Board, which is seeking lead agency status in the environmental review of the application.

“The mass and scale of this project are too large for the property,” declared Butts, as the rest of the board gathered around the plans for an 18-unit condominium building with accessory boat slips.

“It’s time to get organized on this,” said Nolan, leafing through the plans.

Sander suggested everyone take extra time to review the plans and forward their comments to Nolan who would in turn forward them on to the planning board for their July 22 meeting.

“You may want a representative there,” suggested Welch.

Speed Buoys

Sag Harbor Harbor Master Ed Swenson informed the board via a letter on Monday that the United States Coast Guard has given the village permission to place speed buoys just beyond the breakwater.

According to Nolan, there have been numerous complaints about huge wakes carrying all the way through the harbor from larger vessels, prompting officials to consider slowing the crafts down earlier in their course into the harbor. It has taken a year to get approval from the Coast Guard, said Nolan.

The Town of Southampton’s Sea-TV has been contacting villages in hopes of receiving additional funding to cover the operation of the station. Like the Village of Sag Harbor, North Haven government meetings are not broadcast on Sea-TV.

Nolan asked the board to review the proposal and provide feedback by the next meeting. 

Some New Projects May Get Past Code

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Unless the proposed development projects at the Bulova Watchcase Factory or at the former Diner property, now known as Ferry Road, receive conditional site plan approval from the Sag Harbor Planning Board prior to the adoption of the revised village zoning code, they will be subject to any changes presented in the code, according to Sag Harbor Trustee Tiffany Scarlato.

And that goes for all proposed projects in Sag Harbor, noted Scarlato.

As for the former Bulova project, which has completed its state mandated environmental review under the planning board, conditional site plan approval could be just a meeting or two away. Should the tenuous project move forward on schedule then, it will not likely be subject to the new code.

The 65-unit luxury condominium project is expected to be in front of the Sag Harbor zoning board on Tuesday, July 15 where that board may be asked to rule on an on-site affordable housing requirement handed down by the Suffolk County Planning Commission. The village’s planning board has already overruled the county, favoring instead to accept a now $2.57 million contribution to the proposed Sag Harbor Community Housing Trust.

The project is also slated for the planning board’s agenda on July 22. The developers have maintained, however, if they are required to dedicate 20 percent of the units to affordable housing, they will be unable to move forward with the project.

“I think there is probably a good possibility that Bulova could have conditional site plan approval by the time we adopt the code,” said Scarlato.

On the other hand, Ferry Road, a proposed 18-unit condominium project overlooking the Sag Harbor- North Haven Bridge, has yet to begin its required State Environmental Quality Review under the planning board, which can take several months. That review must be concluded before site plan review or any approvals can be considered by any board in Sag Harbor.

The Village of Sag Harbor has been in a commercial moratorium for over year while the board of trustees have been in the throes of having the village’s zoning code revamped and modernized. Regardless, various village boards have been in the process of reviewing application for development projects in Sag Harbor – many of which were exempt from the moratorium because applications were filed prior to its adoption, and others which have received exemption from the village planning board.

But being exempt from the moratorium does not automatically trigger a project’s exemption from the new code once it is adopted, and as Scarlato pointed out on Tuesday, the village is not required to be as lenient as it has chosen to be.

“If we chose to not make a statement about exemption at all, only those with vested rights would be exempt from the code,” she said. A vested right translates into a project that not only has received final approval, but also a building permit and has shown actual construction has begun to take place at the site.

Scarlato said the board of trustees considered a more lenient stance for the proposed projects in part because there were various applicants asking the village to consider exempting them.

“It was a decision based on what’s out there,” she added. “We did have to draw the line somewhere.”

Two projects that have vested rights, and therefore would not be subject to the proposed code, are the condominiums on West Water Street and the Loeffler office building being constructed on Bay Street.

James Giorgio’s office building and apartments in the former Havens bar and lounge on Bridge Street is the only application that has received conditional site plan approval, but has yet to start construction.

Sag Harbor Village officials are still in the process of reviewing and revising the draft code, and have maintained they will continue to have public meetings on the land-use document until all residents and taxpayers have been heard on every issue. The next meeting is scheduled for Saturday, July 12 at 8:30 a.m. The Village Board of Trustees will hold its monthly meeting as well as its re-organizational meeting on Tuesday, July 8.