Tag Archive | "gateway"

Gateway Approval Celebrated by Fans

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Generally at town board meetings, audience members are asked not to clap or boo for any project that is up for discussion — but on Tuesday night, the Southampton Town board room erupted in applause after three resolutions pertaining to the Sag Harbor Gateway Study were unanimously adopted.
The Sag Harbor Gateway Study represents a change to the entryway of Sag Harbor on the Sag Harbor/Bridgehampton Turnpike. The modification to the town’s master plan changes zoning in the area from Highway Business (HB) to Hamlet Office (HO).
The Sag Harbor Citizen’s Advisory Committee (CAC), spearheaded the effort to re-zone the area, but there had been opposition to the change from business owners along the turnpike, including Reid Brothers Inc., and Bay Burger restaurant.
The former zoning — highway business — allowed for commercial enterprises such as auto dealerships and taxicab services. Businesses allowed under the new zoning — hamlet office — are smaller, less obtrusive uses such as physicians offices and professional organizations.
The gateway project, which was sponsored by councilperson Chris Nuzzi under former Southampton supervisor Patrick “Skip” Heaney, has been in the works for nearly two years.
“This has been a long time coming,” Nuzzi said on Wednesday, “It’s really an important project for the Sag Harbor area, because it not only represents the gateway into the Village of Sag Harbor, but it is also an important component of the Sag Harbor/Bridgehampton Turnpike from a land use perspective.”
Further, Nuzzi said this decision “shows a good balance of need for the area” by allowing for both professional office space and affordable housing “…of which the East End is in scarce supply.”
“The life is up for HB,” he added. “We should consider making changes to HB as it currently exists, and the zoning classification as it is now.”
In December, the Sag Harbor Gateway study area was expanded to include four more residential properties in the area. Those who favored the zone change expressed concern for Ligonee Brook, a stream that runs parallel to the study area, and environmental impacts major development projects could have on habitats in the area. They were also concerned about traffic flow and preserving the look of this area.
“I’m very pleased to see this has come to a conclusion that we all want,” said CAC member Priscilla Ciccariello. “We think it is going to serve to protect the character for the entryway to Sag Harbor and I think its something that is necessary because of the intensity of development in the past, and possibly would come in the future.”
Further, Ciccariello said the study was “endorsed by the fact that the neighbors have wanted to be included in it.”
“The church is going to be there and it’s going to be a nice design,” added Ciccariello referring to the Sag Harbor United Methodist Church’s plans for a new house of worship in the gateway area. “This will enhance the character.”
“I think it’s the right move — it took a long time,” said Jeremy Samuelson of Group for the East End. “The community really came together and decided that by coordinating with Sag Harbor Village to try and find ways to augment what they are doing with their village business district re-zoning and the zoning code re-write, it all just looked right and blended together.”
Samuelson added that this has not been an easy feat.
“It took a tremendous amount of hard work, but it’s a perfect example of community members and CACs, volunteers, non-profits, town employees and everyone getting together — and at the end of the day coming up with something that works.”
Southampton Town councilwoman Anna Throne-Holst, who resides in Sag Harbor, said she was glad the zone change was adopted.
“It is important from a scenic and a business development perspective … we were all just pleased to give it a 5-0 round.”
The first of the three resolutions adopted a negative declaration for the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA) in connection with the updated Sag Harbor Gateway Plan, which included the four residential parcels. The second dealt with an amendment to the Southampton Town Comprehensive plan.
The final resolution changed the zoning from Highway Business (HB) and residential 20,000 square feet (R-20), to Hamlet Office (HO). All three were sponsored by Nuzzi and seconded by Throne-Holst.

Sag CAC Eyes Work at Sag Harbor Industries

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Birds-eye view of the Sag Harbor Industries property.

An application filed for Sag Harbor Industries (SGI) was one issue discussed at this month’s Sag Harbor Citizen Advisory Committee’s (CAC) meeting, held on Friday, December 5, at the Pierson High School Library. 

CAC chair, John Linder, came to the meeting with a copy of a letter from Southampton Town Principal Planner, Claire Vail, to Noyac Citizen’s Advisory Committee Vice-chair, John Distefano. The letter detailed the basic points of the application.

According to Distefano, SGI plans to expand the various types of business occurring in the building to include a landscaping service, a wholesale business, an electrical repairs site, and a manufacturing operation. Many of these operations are currently functioning in the building, but the company would like town approval for the various uses. SGI also wants to build a 40 by 60 foot storage unit. Currently, SGI manufactures electronic devices, though they rent out space to other businesses.

According to Lisa Poyer, of Inter-Science Science Research Associates, a company helping SGI with the permits for the project, SGI will put 2.2 acres of the property under a non-development covenant, that will connect pieces of town land and county land to expand an area of open space. SGI is also seeking a wetland permit.

In the letter from Vail to Distefano, Vail encouraged members of the Noyac CAC to write her a letter detailing their objections regarding this project. Distefano says the Noyac CAC will give their decision on the project by February 5. Linder said that the Sag Harbor CAC will work in conjunction with the Noyac CAC to review the project.

According to Distefano’s understanding of the application, SGI would also like to operate a furniture business in their present location. “I wonder if this furniture business would include furniture stripping,” said Distefano. Distefano felt some of the materials associated with this process might be harmful to the environment. Poyer believes SGI isn’t seeking approval for the operation of a furniture business. 

According to Distefano, the building that SGI currently operates out of is dealing with issues of building code non-compliances, although he didn’t have specifics on this. “Sag Harbor Industries wants to get [the issue of non-compliance] straightened out. The town also wants to bring them into compliance.”

CAC member Bill Collins was sympathetic to SGI’s need for extra on-site parking. Poyer said SGI will build substantial additional parking.

The 8.4 acre site SGI operates from has been a controversial piece of land in recent decades. In the 1980s, the Suffolk County Department of Health Services found contamination in the groundwater beneath the property, resulting from the operations of a previous owner. (During the 1950′s and 1960′s Rowe Industries manufactured small electric motors on the site.) By 1992, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency established the Rowe Superfund Cleanup site. Distefano is confidant that this previous issue will not factor into SGI’s recent application, since the cleanup project is almost fully completed.

Jeremy Samuelson, of the Group for the East End, is also planning on reviewing the application: “I am looking forward to looking at the application, given the environmental concerns associated with this site.”

 

 

Also on the docket at Friday’s Sag Harbor CAC meeting was a discussion of the status of the Gateway Study. CAC member Eric Cohen said, “We are certainly not for a Highway Business Zoning.” Shauna Conran said the CAC doesn’t want to see the creation of a commercial area that would compete with the business area in the village.

“We are correcting an error in the zoning laws. There is an anachronism back when they reviewed this and decided that it was okay to build strip malls,” Cohen added. “Everyone thought that was what we wanted, but that is no longer what we want. It seems to us like a very simple matter, but I understand that if you are a property owner it isn’t that simple.”

Suffolk County Legislator Jay Schneiderman and journalist Karl Grossman will visit the CAC for their January meeting.

 

Top Image: A birds-eye view of Sag Harbor Industries current property. 

Bottom Image: Sag Harbor CAC members hash out their opinions of the Gateway Study. 

 

 

Gateway Study to be Expanded

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On November 25, the Town of Southampton decided to expand the study area of Sag Harbor’s Gateway — the area along the Bridgehampton/Sag Harbor Turnpike — by adding four residential parcels totaling three acres to the study. Any change in the zoning along the Gateway would ultimately be incorporated into the town of Southampton’s comprehensive plan — a master planning document for the town.
Numerous issues surround the proposed change in zoning for the area which would turn it from highway business (HB) to hamlet office (HO). Those in favor of the change cite traffic and environmental concerns associated with HB zoned parcels and would like to see a less intensive usage along the gateway. Opponents of the change want it to stay highway business because it allows for many different business options along the stretch, which, they argue, was the reason many owners purchased these properties in the first place.
Last week, town planning and development administrator, Jefferson Murphree suggested to the town board that the town close the public hearing so that the study area can be increased and revisited again in January.
“We are just expanding what has already been analyzed,” explained Murphree.
Prior to Tuesday’s meeting, the study included an area of just under eight acres, excluding four property owners to the south. But the new study will include those properties, bringing the total acreage to just over ten.
During Tuesday’s meeting, councilwoman Nancy Graboski asked Murphree if there was a possibility of considering a re-zoning and adding an alternative Planned Development District (PDD) at the Reid’s automotive garage – Reid’s Brothers Inc. The Reid family has been opposed to the re-zoning of the area, which they have said will greatly reduce certain business opportunities for them. A PDD would give the Reids different commercial options for their property.
“The Reid Brothers property is pre-existing non-conforming,” Murphree explained, “They will still have a wide variety of options for business uses.”
He also added that a zone change is very specific and there are already too many PDDs in the area but there may be the possibility of a commercial PDD for the Reid Family.
Town supervisor Linda Kabot Kabot added that this change may be done by the zoning board – when the Reid family decides they want to apply for a different business opportunity.
She added that the Reid family would still have “a lot of rights with the HO overlay.”
At the last public hearing for the Sag Harbor gateway study, Group for the East End’s Jeremy Samuelson brought three large displays that explained what types of businesses can be established under Highway Business, Hamlet Office and what would be allowed under a special exceptions category. This exercise was to show Samuelson’s support for the re-zoning and gave examples for the types of businesses that would be allowed under hamlet office, which he said actually added more opportunities over the current zoning.
Owner of Bay Burger, John Landis, who has spoken at prior public hearings in opposition to the change of zoning spoke again on Tuesday. He told the town board that his business offered more employment opportunities to the area.
“We [Bay Burger] have created some jobs,” said Landis, who added that by removing the HB designation, a number of business opportunities will be lost for the areas at Sag Harbor’s boundaries. “We are removing those business opportunities — removing opportunities for our citizens — those that could continue to live in our environment.”
Landis offered a potential compromise, to make the area Hamlet Commercial, which would continue to allow retail use, whereas the Hamlet Office would not.
“We are losing people,” Landis argued, “People that are not skilled enough to work in an office, that are only able to work in a place like Bay Burger.” He continued that if the area cannot be used in its full advantage then certain types of jobs would be lost.
Kabot answered that the board would like to see, “a nice happy mix of residences with businesses.”
She also noted that the Southampton Town Trustees have taken the responsibility of keeping Ligonee Brook clean and clear. The brook runs adjacent to the area under review and is considered by environmentalists as being an important artery in the creeks and brooks connecting the Long Pond Greenbelt area of Sag Harbor to the ocean in Sagaponack. The trustees took a tour of the brook last month, to determine its ecological importance.
Sag Harbor resident and advocate for the zone change, Pricilla Ciccariello, also argued at Tuesday’s meeting that there would be more possibilities for business use from the zone change.
“There are more under HO for businesses than under HB,” she said and added that with the change, it would provide more opportunity for workforce housing and noted that this is the only area left bordering the village with this type of housing. Ciccariello also told the town board that the zone change was needed in order to preserve the rural character for the entrance to Sag Harbor.
“More importantly,” she added during an interview on Friday, “it needs to be done to protect the environmental value of this area because of the environmental aspects pertaining to Ligonee Brook and the Long Pond Greenbelt area.”
Kabot announced that everyone would be given “another bite at the apple” in January and added “We can’t change the world with the entrance way to Sag Harbor.”

Hashing out the Gateway

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Although the Town of Southampton is busy with budgetary issues, with the November 20 deadline looming for the tentative town budget, board members had time to hear the opinions of residents, experts and neighbors talk about the Sag Harbor Gateway Study.

At Tuesday’s public hearing, members of the community as well as home and business owners in the ‘gateway’ area along the Bridgehampton/Sag Harbor Turnpike spoke about their concerns regarding the current zoning, which is Highway Business. The Gateway Study proposes to change the zoning in the area from a highway business to a hamlet office zone.

The first to speak at the hearing was Katherine Reid, proprietor, with her sons, of Reid Brothers, Inc., who said that, although she spoke at the last meeting and said she thought the decision to change the zoning where her property lies was “un-American,” she is still upset. She sold her house in another part of Long Island in 1984 to buy this property in Sag Harbor, she said, because of the potential to make more money if a business was allowed. “I’m being gypped out of my money,” she said on Tuesday.

Sandra Ferguson, of the Friends of the Long Pond Greenbelt, told the town board about the importance of protecting Ligonee Brook. She said the brook is part of the Long Pond Greenbelt, a natural system of streams, ponds, and swamps that connects Sag Harbor to Sagaponack. Ferguson said the brook plays an important function for eel and alewives. She also explained that there are wet and dry seasons of the brook, which is why sometimes it looks like it isn’t flowing. Ferguson also gave a report to the board detailing a walk she took through the area with other experts and trustees, that highlighted the wetlands they were speaking about.

Robert Reid, owner of the Reid Brothers, an auto repair business along the Turnpike, said that if something were to change with the zoning, it should be something that should benefit the community as a whole.

“I hope you understand that when you change the zoning, you are taking something away from somebody that is valuable,” he said to the board.

Sag Harbor resident Priscilla Ciccariello argues that there are many environmental aspects, such as being adjacent to the Long Pond Greenbelt, that make the zoning change a concern for other residents. She also said that if the proposed five properties outlined in the gateway study were developed in this area, traffic would increase by 200 percent on the Turnpike.

A neighbor of the Bay Burger, Bette Lacina said that she would also support the change to hamlet office, because if it weren’t changed, Bay Burger could become a nightclub or other loud venue. The restaurant is her next door neighbor and she would prefer it remain a less intrusive business.

John Landis, owner of Bay Burger, said on Tuesday, “When we purchased the property, we did rely on what the zoning was and what we may be able to do in the future.” But he also added, “Couldn’t the gateway study include an addition, a possibility of hamlet office and residential to highway business.” Landis asked about a “bubble approach” a possibility supervisor Linda Kabot said may be feasible, where the town may consider a Planned Development District, (PDD), which would allow for a combination of highway business and hamlet office.

Sag Harbor resident Dean Golden said that he owns two of the four properties that will be surrounded by new zoning. He said his neighbors, the Fabiano family, expressed their interest in the rezoning of the area. But Golden also said he would be a proponent of a car wash, an earlier plan the Reid family had proposed. He said that many ideas proposed for nearby property owned by brothers Pat and Mike Trunzo, which included affordable housing, will also still be allowed under hamlet office, but he said to the board, “what you are doing is fine, but I am concerned for the Reids.”

Jeremy Samuelson, from  Group for the East End, hung up three posters at Tuesday’s meeting showing what would be allowed under hamlet office and what is allowed under highway business. And then he showed what could be allowed under the special exceptions category. Under highway business, he said the town would be walking away from things like taxicab services and mobile home dealers. Allowed under hamlet office are things like, physicians’ offices, dentists, and professional organizations.

After a few other speakers, representing their arguments for or against the study, councilwoman Anna Throne-Holst read a statement by Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr., saying he would like to support the gateway study.

The meeting was adjourned and will be revisited at a meeting November 25.