Members of the Sag Harbor Citizens Advisory Committee filled the boardroom at Southampton Town hall last Friday to see a presentation on their baby, the Sag Harbor Gateway Study. The moment was a long time coming for the group that began pushing for the study two years ago.
The group’s concerns were primarily making sure the stretch of the Sag Harbor Bridgehampton Turnpike does not one day resemble County Road 39, with its car dealerships and strip malls, and that the area’s residential character is preserved. The study area encompasses the Highway Business Zone between Middle Line Highway and Brick Kiln Road within the Town of Southampton and bordering on the incorporated Village of Sag Harbor. The town’s proposed solution is to rezone the area to a combination of hamlet office/residential zoning and one planned development district.
The study encompasses 7.75 acres and 8 parcels, including the Reed Brother’s Garage, Bay Burger, as well as the environmentally sensitive area of Ligonee Creek. Hamlet Office/Residential zoning precludes many uses the CAC feared would negatively impact the area, such as wholesale and retail businesses, construction companies, and of course car dealerships.
CAC member John Linder said he was pleased with Friday’s work session.
“Aside from it taking so long, we thought unjustifiably so,” said Linder, “we are very happy with it.”
The draft of the study also pays special attention to the environmental sensitivity of Ligonee Creek, which is encompassed in the study area. Linder said he was also happy about that.
Another aspect of the study has to do with approximately seven acres owned by Turnpike Partners. It is both the CAC and the town’s hope that properties, one of which is zoned residential, while the other is highway business, can be developed though the PDD process for workforce housing.
CAC member Priscilla Ciccariello said she believed the owners of the property, Pat and Mike Trunzo, were open to the idea. She said they had spoken previously about it and felt they were all on board. One hurdle though might be the endangered Tiger Salamander , that has been notorious for holding up development in the area. If the Tiger Salamander becomes and issue, Ciccariello said she believes the Long Pond Green belt might also be interested in acquiring the property, something she said would be ideal.
Linder, as well as Ciccariello, said the rezoning was exactly what the group had hoped for. He said it was one of the top reasons behind his group pushing to have the study completed.
Councilman Chirs Nuzzi said on Wednesday he was happy and thankful for the work of the members of the Sag Harbor CAC and the Group for the East End, as well as the town’s planning department.
“It was agreed upon amongst everyone, that this is important and we need to proceed forward,” he said.
Three months ago Nuzzi visited the CAC and told them he felt sure the study could be completed by the end of this year.
“That is my hope,” he said. “That’s what we’re shooting for.”
Nuzzi said unless unforeseen circumstances arise, he believes he’ll be able to keep his promise.
Nuzzi, though, alluded to an overall concern on his part when it comes to studies like this one.
“The board has taken on so much. And the result is we’re not finishing things in a timely fashion. This study has been hanging around for quite some time, and we need to reconcile all of the promises that we’ve made.”
“It’s one thing to promise, another thing to get finished in a reasonable amount of time,” he said. “It’s incumbent on the town board to set a list of priorities and with the help of the public get them accomplished in a timely manner.”
“The name speaks for itself,” said Southampton Town Councilwoman Anna Throne-Holst who lives in the village. “It is the gateway into Sag Harbor. It’s a beautiful unique, historic village and its part of what should be careful and important planning. It is the first thing you see as you come into this village of ours.”
The next step in the process involves a public hearing on the plan in which members of the community as well as property owners will be afforded the opportunity to weigh in on the idea. On Friday, Nuzzi said he hoped that hearing would be scheduled some time in September.
Top Photo: The gateway to Sag Harbor Village is the subject of a Southampton Town Study to prevent overdevelopment in the area.