By Kathryn G. Menu
It has been almost three years since local real estate developer James Giorgio proposed to raise and rebuild the historic commercial property at 125 Main Street in Sag Harbor. Now, with a public hearing on the project scheduled for next month, it appears an end and an approval are finally within site.
On Tuesday, October 23 the Sag Harbor Village Planning Board heard a presentation on the project from Giorgio’s architect, Chuck Thomas.
The project involves removing two additions off the rear of the building facing Church Street, lifting the remainder of the building and putting a new foundation under it. The building, constructed sometime in the 1750s, has basically no foundation to speak of and is sitting in dirt. After the new foundation is installed, Thomas said the plan is to reframe whatever is necessary within the historic structure and restore the building, removing aluminum siding and replacing it with wood, restoring the windows and building a new, wood roof.
The additions which would be removed in the beginning of the process would be rebuilt in kind, added Thomas.
The building will continue to host a retail use on the first floor, with an apartment on the second floor.
“We are going to make it look like it should look,” said Thomas.
The project has tentatively received two variances from the Sag Harbor Village Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA). One allows landscaping of 16.62 percent of the property as opposed to the 20 percent required under village code and the other allows the inclusion of eight parking spaces where nine are required in the code.
The ZBA, however, was not amenable to allowing Giorgio to construct the second floor apartment at just 564 square-feet where a minimum of 800 square-feet is required. On Tuesday, Thomas said the apartment would meet code.
Thomas said he hoped to get started on construction this winter. A public hearing on the project will be held at the board’s November 27 meeting.
On Tuesday night, Juan Castro became the third Sag Harbor resident approved for an accessory apartment since the Sag Harbor Village Board of Trustees first adopted a law in 2009 allowing a maximum of 50 residents to legalize apartments within their primary residences.
Apartments must meet building and fire codes and the Suffolk County Health Department must also sign off on the apartment, meaning applicants must show they have an adequate septic system to handle the increase in density.
The 650 square-foot apartment is located in the bottom floor of Castro’s Brandywine Drive residence.
While Provisions Natural Foods Market & Organic Café has already received planning board approval to expand partially into the adjacent space most recently used by the Style bar, it has approval to do so sans approximately 200 square-feet of the Style bar space. If Provisions uses that space it will officially expand beyond 3,000 square-feet, which under the village code triggers the requirement for a market research study on the necessity of expanding the store as well as consideration of providing some kind of affordable housing relief.
In order to avoid those requirements, Provisions’ attorney Dennis Downes secured the company approval for an expansion, walling off that 200-square-foot space. But after gaining planning board approval, Downes approached the Sag Harbor Village Zoning Board of Appeals for relief from the market study, which he estimates will cost $10,000, and the affordable housing provision, which would allow Provisions to expand into the full 777 square-foot space.
While the ZBA was amenable to the idea in September, this month Sag Harbor Village Attorney Denise Schoen said she does not believe the ZBA has a right under the village code to offer that kind of relief. Schoen said case law permits the ZBA to grant area variances — those that deal with physical space like a setback — but not variances for other requirements for a special permit.
Downes is reviewing that case law and the matter will be revisited at the ZBA’s November 20 meeting.
Lastly, John Leonard’s proposal to expand the Harbor Heights Service Station to include a convenience store was formally given a negative declaration under the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA). That proposal will now move into the hands of the ZBA, which will ultimately decide the fate of the project, ruling on close to half a dozen variances including one that will allow Leonard to construct a store almost twice the size of what is allowed under the village code.
That proposal will also be discussed at the ZBA’s November 20 meeting.