Tag Archive | "Harbor Committee"

Great Street Honored

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Crowds on Main Street during HarborFest 2013 on Sunday, 9/8/13

By Stephen J. Kotz

Deborah Alaimo Lawlor, a member of the American Planning Association, the organization that named Sag Harbor’s Main Street one of the 10 “Great Streets in America” earlier this month, presented a proclamation to that effect to the Sag Harbor Village Board on Tuesday.

Ms. Lawlor praised the village for protecting its historic heritage and nurturing the arts while maintaining the feel of a friendly small town.

“Coming to Sag Harbor brings back some fond memories,” said Ms. Lawlor, a New Jersey resident who said she last visited the area about 30 years ago. “Quaint, that’s the picture that remained in my head about Sag Harbor after all this time.”

“This award is an accomplishment of many people who we can’t thank enough,” said Mayor Brian Gilbride, who asked that representatives of the village’s various regulatory boards and its environmental consultants stand at the front of the meeting room for the presentation of the proclamation.

Ms. Lawlor said the village had been recommended for the honor by a professional planner who was a regular visitor to the village.

She said the village is still eligible for a “people’s choice award,” which will be given to the community receiving the most votes at its website, www.planning.org, by the end of the month of October.

Waterfront Park

Landscape architect Ed Hollander, who unveiled the latest sketches for Cove Park, a waterfront park that would be developed under the shadow of the Lance Corporal Jordan C. Haerter Veterans Memorial Bridge, at a special board meeting last week, presented them again to the larger audience that typically attends the board’s monthly meetings.

“It’s definitely not attractive, it’s definitely not of great use to the community,” he said of the proposed site of the park, behind the 7-Eleven convenience store and along the waterfront on the southwest side of the bridge.

Mr. Hollander said the park would open up an overlooked portion of the village’s waterfront to the community and would help tie the rest of the waterfront, from the docks along West Water Street, to Long Wharf and Marine Park, together. He added that it would be developed in an environmentally friendly way with native plant species and as many recycled materials, including plants, as possible.

“The next step is how do we bring this to fruition?” asked Mr. Hollander.

But that was a question the board, which did not discuss the project further, was not prepared to answer on Tuesday.

Later in the meeting, during a public comment period, Jeff Peters, a member of the Harbor Committee, thanked that committee’s former chairman Bruce Tait for being an early advocate of the waterfront park.

Harbor Committee To Weigh In

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The Sag Harbor Harbor Committee devoted half of a nearly two-hour-long work session on Tuesday to discussing the status of a lease between the village and the Sag Harbor Yacht Yard, before agreeing it would send a memo to the village board, urging it to maintain a maritime use of the property.

Committee members acknowledged they had little say over who the village board leases the property to, but they said it was important that it recognize the importance of maintaining a water-related use as required by the village’s Local Waterfront Revitalization Plan.

After the lease expired in May and negotiations faltered, the village board filed an eviction notice in August, ordering the yacht yard to vacate a 16,000-square-foot parcel it leased for boat storage for 20 years.

Last week, Lou Grignon, the yacht yard’s owner, accompanied by several boat owners, appeared before both the harbor committee and the village board, saying he, in turn, would have to evict about 50 clients because he no longer has space to store their boats.

At Tuesday’s meeting, Harbor Committee member Bruce Tait said it made little sense for the village to lease the property to someone else because that would require opening a new access to the site.  On top  of that, to gain access to the waterfront, a new leasee would have to cross Mr. Grignon’s property, he said.

The yacht yard also leases underwater land with four boat slips from the village, which would also be blocked to other users without an easement from Mr. Grignon.

Those slips could be reached via the Breakwater Yacht Club, which also leases village property. That lease expires in March of 2015, but the club has a 10-year option to renew, Mr. Tait said.

Sag Harbor ZBA Frets Over Project Near Bluff

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By Stephen J. Kotz

The application of Alan and Anita Sosne, who want to add a second-floor addition to their house, put in a pool and make other improvements to their property at 18 Cove Road, saw their application tabled once again by the Sag Harbor Zoning Board of Appeals on Tuesday.

The Sosnes’ attorney, Dennis Downes, told the board that terracing around the pool, which had been part of the original application and would have been within 8 feet of a bluff on the property, has since been removed from the application. The pool, which had been proposed for 15 feet from the edge of the bluff has been moved back to a 25-foot setback, “so we cleaned that up quite a bit,” Mr. Downes said.

But the board’s chairman, Anton Hagen, said he was concerned that a support post for a new second-story deck would be only 5 feet from the edge of the bluff.

“We haven’t really ever approved anything that close to a bluff,” he said, citing concern that the decision might be used as a precedent by other applicants. Mr. Downes agreed to explore whether it would be possible to build the deck with a cantilevered support.

In the mean time, the ZBA is still waiting for the Harbor Committee to offer its input on the application. “This is the third month we have been here and the Harbor Committee hasn’t weighed in,” said Mr. Downes.

The problem, according to Lisa Koehne, the board’s secretary, is that the current procedure in the village is to only refer applications deemed complete to another board that is supposed to offer an advisory opinion. The board agreed that once Mr. Downes provides an updated survey, it will pass the application on to the Harbor Committee for its review.

The board also formally approved Sotheby’s International Realty to convert the former offices of The Sag Harbor Express at 35 Main Street into a real estate office. The Express is now at 22 Division Street, on the other side of the building.

Although a code change rendered offices in the Main Street shopping district nonconforming uses, the village board grandfathered in existing offices, allowing them to change from one use to another with ZBA approval.

Mr. Hagen was the sole dissenter. “There is a lot of resistance to having another real estate office on Main Street,” he said. “That’s why I’m voting against it.”

The board also tabled, until its December meeting, the application of Page at 63 Main, which is seeking a variance for a refrigerated unit at the rear of its building.  The restaurant is currently involved in a court battle with the village over a renovation project that added seats to the rear of the property, and Mr. Downes asked that the application be tabled until the court case is resolved.

Sag Harbor Village Board Recognizes Policeman’s Long Career

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2014-08-13 10.08.49

Sag Harbor Village Police Sgt. Paul Fabiano will retire next month. Photo by Stephen J. Kotz.

By Stephen J. Kotz

The Sag Harbor Village Board on Tuesday wanted to take a minute to celebrate the long career of Sag Harbor Police sergeant Paul Fabiano, who is retiring next month, but first it had to wait until both he and his older brother, Chief Tom Fabiano, returned from handling calls.

On Wednesday morning, Sgt. Fabiano said both officers were called from the meeting to handle calls related to a reported manhunt in Bridgehampton, in which officers from East End departments, including Sag Harbor, converged on the Bridgehampton Turnpike and Huntington Crossway in a fruitless search for an armed suspect in a home invasion.

With the crowd thinned out, Chief Fabiano approached the podium to praise his brother, who interrupted him from the back of the meeting room, insisting there was “no relation” between the two.

“Paul takes the brunt of everything I give because he is my brother, and I’m proud to have him as a brother,” the chief said, before returning the favor. “He brought a lot of ideas to me; he just always forgot that my ideas were better.”

The chief said that Sgt. Fabiano had joined the force as a part-time officer and served as a detective before being promoted to sergeant and served a key role in training other officers as well helping establish the multi-jurisdictional emergency services arrangement with other East End departments that was pressed into service Tuesday night.

“He was always here for the village, always here for the department and always here for me,” Chief Fabiano said.

Mayor Brian Gilbride described Sgt. Fabiano as an officer “who has served the village with distinction for a good many years.”

“We really thank you and hopefully you’ll have some time to be with your family,” added Trustee Ed Deyermond.

“It was a pleasure to serve my time,” Sgt. Fabiano responded. “It was a path I chose early on. I saw what my brother did and I wanted to do it too.”

On Wednesday morning, Sgt. Fabiano said he entered the police academy in 1985 when he was 19 years old. He served as a part-time officer in Southampton Town for two years before being hired for a similar position in Sag Harbor in 1988. He became a full-time officer in 1989.

Sgt. Fabiano said after 25 years, it was time for a change, noting that a police officer “is always on call—not that you mind it” and that he had missed a number of family functions over the years, although he said it was a pleasure working this year with his daughter, Christianna, who is a traffic control officer.

After he leaves the department, Sgt. Fabiano said he would work full time in sales with Scan Security, a job, he said, that would allow him to come and go as he pleases but still serve the public.

Of his career with the village, he offered, “I’d like to think I made a difference.”

Harbor Committee Changes

In other action, the board accepted the recommendation of Mayor Gilbride and reappointed Stephen Clarke to another term on the Harbor Committee and named him chairman to replace Bruce Tait, who has been engaged in a one-sided verbal sparring match with village officials over their enforcement of the zoning code and the village’s Local Waterfront Revitalization Plan.

The board also appointed John Shaka of the organization Save Sag Harbor to replace John Christopher and named Joseph Tremblay, an owner of Bay Burger, as the committee’s alternate member.

Both Mr. Tait and Jeff Peters will remain on the committee as “holdovers,” Mr. Gilbride said.

Before leaving the meeting early, Mr. Tait urged board members to read the LWRP and be ready to refer actions that have any impact on the waterfront to the Harbor Committee for what’s called a consistency review.

On Wednesday, Mr. Tait said he did not understand the concept of a “holdover” member, and suggested that board may be on shaky ground by allowing board members whose terms have expired to continue to serve.

The board also heard from Chip Dineen, a resident of Latham street and a member of the Southampton Town Transportation Committee, who said the village has ignored a promise made more than 15 years ago to mark a number of streets with bike lanes. He cited village minutes from 2009 in which Sinead Fitzgibbon, a cyclist, told the board that Ken Dorph had outlined proposed bike routes as long ago as 1997.

“I feel adding some kind of markings on the street would bring to the attention of motorists that there are bicyclists a on the road,” said Mr. Dineen. “How are we going to proceed and not let another 20 years go by?”

Mayor Gilbride countered, telling Mr. Dineen that he often sees bicyclists ignoring the rules of the road, but Mr. Dineen said the behavior of a few should not derail an effort to make the roads safer.

Chief Fabiano also groused that he had tried to meet with bike lane proponents on a number of occasions but had been ignored.

Trustee Ken O’Donnell then stepped in and said he would meet with Mr. Dineen’s group to see if they could reach some compromise.

James FitzGerald, the high school student who has been inventorying plant and animal species at the village’s Cilli Farm preserve, gave a follow-up report, and suggested that a basic trail be established, running from Long Island Avenue on the south to West Water Street on the north, with another trail cutting west to Glover Street.

He said the preserve has a serious problem with litter but said he thought “it’s a dumping ground because it’s not in the public eye” and that more public use might, in fact, discourage dumping.

Mr. Stein added that besides dumping, a number of homeless people have lived in the preserve from time to time.

The board did not take any official action on the report.

Harbor Committee Meeting Dominated by Redwood Road Applications

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By Stephen J. Kotz

It was all Redwood all the time on Monday as the Sag Harbor Harbor Committee heard five applications for wetland permits in the neighborhood.

Despite objections from two neighbors, the committee said it would likely approve a permit for Palo Aalto L.L.C., which owns a house at 232 Redwood Road to build a 425-square-foot pool, decking and the installation of a 90-foot-long retaining wall along the western side of the pool and the property line.

William Frazier, who lives at 226 Redwood Road next door, said the retaining wall, which as proposed would only be 18 inches from the property line, could pose a threat to his own property if it were ever breached in a storm.

“What happens when it crumbles?” he asked. “Gentlemen, this is an ill-conceived plan. Don’t approve it.”

Another neighbor, Cam Gleason, showed the board photographs of flooding in the neighborhood following Superstorm Sandy in 2012.

“Sandy changed everything,” she said. “It was a wake-up call, so let’s not be in a coma.”

She said if the committee denied the request for the pool, the retaining wall would no longer be an issue. She said she was less concerned that the pool would be destroyed by a storm than the fact that it would replace permeable soil in a low-lying, flood-prone area.

But committee member Stephen Clarke said the board’s hands were tied because the pool and retaining wall both met the required wetland setback.

Chairman Bruce Tait agreed that the committee would probably not have legal grounds to deny the application, but added, “I think it’s time to be stricter and stricter and look at these things with a sharper lens” of applications near the waterfront.

“Sandy was just a storm here,” he said. “When we see the Hurricane 1938 come through again, we’re going to see a lot more damage than that.”

Joshua Schwartz, the owner of a house at 188 Redwood Road, appeared before the committee seeking a 3-foot-tall, 76-foot-long retaining wall to be placed behind a recently replaced bulkhead. Although the application appeared straight-forward on its face, board members said that after receiving approval for the bulkhead, Mr. Schwartz had brought fill in that was not included in his previous application.

Mr. Schwartz tried to explain the discrepancy, telling the board only about 9 yards of fill had been added to his property, as part of landscaping work, but he was unable to provide proof of that.

Committee members were skeptical. “I don’t buy it,” said Mr. Clarke. “I’m looking you in the eye and I’m telling you I don’t buy it for a minute.”

“The big key,” added Mr. Tait, “is you did something in a wetland zone for which you don’t have a permit. Before we deal with this new permit, we have to deal with the fact that we have a violation for the previous permit.”

The board tabled the matter until September, pending Mr. Schwartz being able to provide it with an accounting for how much fill was brought in.

“You wouldn’t need the retaining wall if you didn’t bring in the fill,” said Mr. Clarke. “Anybody can say ‘I’m a man of my word.’ What’s worse? Doing something without a permit or violating the permit?”

In yet another hearing on Redwood Road, the committee said it would approve a wetlands permit allowing Howard and Sydney Druckman, who own a house at 192 Redwood Road, to tear down the existing 800-square-foot house there and replace it with a two-story house with a footprint of 1,511 square feet, a 468-square-foot deck, and a 220-square-foot pool, all requiring reductions in the required 75-foot wetlands setback. As part of the project, a new septic system will be installed along with 420 cubic yards of soil, to keep the system above groundwater.

At a previous meeting, the board had asked Dennis Downes, the Druckmans’ attorney, to prove the lot was too small for reasonable development without reducing the setbacks. Mr. Downes presented a survey showing that 51 percent of the property was wetlands, and meeting a 75-foot wetlands setback and 30-foot front yard setback would limit work to 16 percent of the property,

“You’ve done a good job illustrating that phrase that its so small that it can’t be built on,” said Mr. Tait.

One neighbor, Victoria Van Dyke, said she had not received notice for the hearing because it had been sent to her former address in the city, but the committee said the posting of a public notice on the property was sufficient notice. Although Ms. Van Dyke said she was concerned about the lack of a retaining wall between her property and the Druckmans, but Rich Warren, the board’s environmental consultant, said one was not warranted, given the modest grade. When she was told the garage would not be elevated to meet FEMA standards, as the house would, she expressed relief. “That was my only concern,” she said.

Sag Harbor Yacht Yard Told to Shove Off

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yachtyard

By Stephen J. Kotz

Sag Harbor Village this week gave Lou Grignon, the owner of the Sag Harbor Yacht Yard, 30 days to vacate a parcel of village-owned waterfront land has used for the past 20 years as a boat storage area.

The village issued the eviction notice after negotiations to reach a new lease agreement failed. The yacht yard’s 20-year lease for the property ended on May 31.

On Wednesday, Mr. Grignon, who owns the buildings adjacent to the village property he has been leasing, said the village’s decision would effectively put him out of business.

“If I don’t have room to store boats, I don’t have room to be a boatyard,” he said, adding that he typically stores about 130 boats on the property each winter.

He said he had hired attorney Dennis Downes to represent him as he seeks to stay at the site.

“Mr. Grignon had an opportunity” to sign a new lease, said Mayor Brian Gilbride. “It’s time for the village to move forward and get that property back.”

Mr. Gilbride said the village had options for the property, which could range from using it as a park, for a parking lot or a place to expand the Sag Harbor farmers market, but he said nothing had been decided yet.

Mr. Grignon said he had been paying $15,592 a year for the boat storage area in the last year of his lease. He said the village told him an appraisal found the property should be rented for $20,000 a year.

“So I put forth an offer of $20,000 a year for the first year, which is roughly a 25-percent increase,” he said. Mr. Grignon added that he sought a 10-year lease with a 10-year option to renew with annual increases of 2.3 percent.

“That was right on par with cost-of-living increases and everything,” Mr. Grignon said. “Not to mention that we just went through the worst recession in history.”

The village countered with an offer for a five-year lease, with the first year at $22,500 and annual increases of 5 percent, he said.

“This is a dollar and cents issue,” he continued. “For them to raise the rent 33 percent and then 5 percent more a year doesn’t make sense. We’d have to power wash a lot of boats to make it work.”

The property, which was once used by the Mobil Corporation to store fuel oil, was contaminated by leaks from storage tanks. It was turned over to the village for a nominal fee under an agreement that there would be no buildings constructed at the site.

Mr. Grignon said the site had been used as boatyard dating to 1797 and is the only boatyard outside the Sag Harbor-North Haven Bridge.

Harbor Committee Chairman Bruce Tait said the village’s Local Waterfront Revitalization Plan requires that the village try to maintain water-related uses and businesses. He said it would not be suitable for parking because that is not a waterfront use and it is too far from the business district.

“This village is a maritime village. The last thing you want to get rid of is the boatyard,” said Dr. Tom Halton, a committee member at Monday’s meeting.

“What’s in the best interest of the people of Sag Harbor?” asked Mr. Grignon. “Do they need more parking or do they want a boatyard?”

Sag Harbor to Weigh Moratorium

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By Stephen J. Kotz

The Sag Harbor Village Board will be asked to consider a moratorium on most developments requiring setback relief from wetlands, pending a revision of its wetlands law.

Denise Schoen, the assistant village attorney who represents the village’s Harbor Committee and other regulatory boards, requested that a moratorium be considered when the village board held a work session on Thursday, July 10, to consider a series of revisions to its zoning code while building inspector Tim Platt, who left his position this week, was still with the village.

Village attorney Fred W. Thiele Jr. said this week he would present a draft of a possible moratorium to the village board at its August 12 meeting.

“There have been issues cropping up more and more frequently,” said Mayor Brian Gilbride, “and we probably need to put on the brakes.”

“I think the changes are gong to be pretty comprehensive,” said Ms. Schoen. “Instead of reviewing the applications, we should be going through the wetlands code to see how we need to rewrite it.”

Richard Warren, the village’s planning consultant, said about a dozen applications  requiring relief from wetlands law setbacks are currently in the pipeline and would have to be put on hold during a moratorium.

The idea for the moratorium was first suggested by Harbor Committee chairman Bruce Tait in June. In a soliloquy before that board began its regular meeting last month, Mr. Tait expressed frustration that his committee was often being asked to weigh in on applications that had already received variances from the village Zoning Board of Appeals, rendering his committee’s input moot.

He also criticized the village for failing to enforce Harbor Committee decisions and said applicants have on occasion ignored the committee’s conditions for approvals.

At that time, Ms. Schoen said there were so many problems with the wetlands law as written that the village might be better off scraping the current law and writing a new one. A key goal, she said, would be to clearly define which applications should go before the Harbor Committee first and which ones should go before the Zoning Board of Appeals.

Besides confusion over where applications should go first, Ms. Schoen said there was a major problem with a provision allowing the Harbor Committee to reduce its own setback requirements “on lots that are so undersized that the applicant can’t possibly build without having that relief.”

The problem, she added, is that provision has “been interpreted by applicants and their attorneys that they automatically qualify for that relief. That’s not true. It’s a decision the Harbor Committee has to make.”

Mr. Warren recommended that the village simply remove the language describing undersized lots. “Right now the burden is on the Harbor Committee,” he said.

“Applications are coming in bigger and bigger,” he said. They want more and more swimming pools 20 feet from the bluff and on 10,000- square-foot lots 6,700-square-foot houses.”

The board also discussed changing the formula for determining how many parking spaces are required for restaurants from one space per three seats to one space per four spaces.

Although Mr. Platt said he thought the change would trigger requests from more restaurants for an increase in seats, others said the change would only bring restaurants into closer conformity with the state fire code—and besides, there are no parking spots anyway.

“You can put in 3,00 more seats and you aren’t going to get any more cars,” said Trustee Robby Stein. “It’s almost self-regulating.”

Trustee Ken O’Donnell, the owner LaSuperica restaurant, agreed. “I can put 200 more seats in, but if have a weekend like this when long Wharf is going to be covered with a tent, my backroom is going to be light.”

“I don’t know what to do with parking variances, I don’t know what to tell the board,” said Ms. Schoen. “I don’t know how we are supposed to enforce them. There are no parking spots so the analysis, legally, doesn’t work.”

Mayor Gilbride said he was concerned that if a restaurant were overcrowded, “and some bad event happens then people are going to be reaching out to find out who is liable.”

But Mr. Platt said if someone violates the fire code “the judge is going to take that much more seriously” than if they simply get slapped with a zoning code violation.

Sag Harbor Village Harbor Committee Focuses on Water Quality

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By Kathryn G. Menu

The Sag Harbor Village Harbor Committee has been tasked with protecting the waterfront one addition, pool and dock at a time — imposing a wetlands buffer as each new project comes before the committee in an effort to reduce the amount of fertilizers and toxins entering bays and estuaries.

Most applicants have sought to comply minimally with the wetlands buffer legislation, seeking 25 feet of natural vegetation to a wetlands area — allowed under the code for properties that are undersized and therefore permitted to seek a buffer below the standard 75 foot requirement.

According to Sag Harbor Village environmental planning consultant Richard Warren, of Inter-Science Research Associates in Southampton, that exception was created within the wetlands code specifically because of the often small lot sizes in Sag Harbor Village. However, on Monday night during the Harbor Committee’s monthly meeting, Warren suggested the board review the wetlands regulations and what it feels it should require. Should a property owner, for example, be granted a wetlands permit with a 25 foot buffer under the rule for undersized lots when they are proposing a large house, with a pool on the waterfront, Warren wondered.

And the committee largely agreed that as more applications come in on the waterfront, hammering out very specific conditions for exceptions and standards for what kind of native vegetation it would like to see planted as a result of waterfront development was crucial moving forward.

On Monday night, the board heard from one applicant hoping to gain the board’s approval for what would ultimately be a smaller wetlands boundary than minimally required under the village code. Outside of a “lawfully operating marina or recreational marina” any construction requires a 75 foot setback under village code. The installation of wastewater disposal systems requires a 100 foot setback and clearing, fertilizing of vegetation, use of herbicides or the establishment of turf, lawn or landscaping requires a 50 foot setback.

Josh Schwartz, who has proposed reconstructing a rock bulkhead with a new corrugated bulkhead, after he said erosion has threatened his property, came before the board also proposing a 4-by-76-foot dock. For either project a minimum 25 foot buffer would be required under the code.

However, according to Warren, the buffer only stretches along one portion of the bulkhead, leaving a sandy beach — where the family enjoys its outdoor Adirondack chairs — untouched.

Warren said he had no issues with the change in the style of bulkhead but was concerned the vegetative buffer was not significant enough.

“This is not really, in my opinion, consistent with what the code says, which is you have to plant and replant a buffer if necessary,” said Warren.

Schwartz noted the sandy beach has been there since before his family purchased the property, dating back 25 years on the most recent survey.

“When we have a house that has had grassy lawn right up to the bulkhead for 100 years and they come in to improve their property, they lose 25 feet of that lawn,” noted committee chairman Bruce Tait. “The only way we can get these buffers back is through new applications for construction.”

“What we are trying to do, the purpose of this is to protect the waters we have out there,” explained Tait. “The only way we can is apply a 25 foot buffer is on new applications.”

Tait noted if Schwartz wanted to keep his beach, he would need to either not make an application for either the bulkhead or dock or apply to the zoning board of appeals for relief from the wetlands law. Schwartz has proposed 25 feet of wetlands buffer, but just on one side of the bulkhead.

Schwartz said he would talk with his family and return to the board before making a suggestion.

After that business was closed, Warren suggested the board take a second look at the wetlands law — not to reduce it, but rather to strengthen the code as its stands.

“You are starting to see a theme here where people don’t see they are required to have a 50 foot setback and you are automatically giving them 25 feet,” he said.

The board agreed.

Board member Stephen Clarke, following board member Jeff Peters suggestion, noted the committee should also have a strict planting plan, designating which species of native plants and how big they should be for any buffer system.

The board’s next meeting is on July 8.

Boat Party in Jeopardy

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web Boat Party 2010

by David McCabe


The Sag Harbor Village’s Harbor Committee discussed issues related to an annual boat party in Sag Harbor during its meeting on Monday, opening up the possibility that village authorities could stop the event from happening this year.

Bruce Tait, the chair of the Harbor Committee, told the event’s organizer, Charles Canavan, that he could order a consistency review of the event — which assesses if a proposal is in line with the policies outlined in the village’s Local Waterfront Revitalization Plan (LWRP). That would make it more difficult for the party to take place in Sag Harbor Cove, where it has been held since 2010.

Tait noted that if the board’s hypothetical review were to find the proposal inconsistent with LWRP policies, then the state would have to overrule the board before the event could take place.

The boat party, which drew some 150 to 200 vessels last year, has been in existence for around two decades. Every year, boats and their owners have converged at a location on the East End to eat, drink and listen to live bands which perform on a barge set up by organizers. However, that location has hardly remained constant. In the past, the event has been held within the jurisdiction of Shelter Island and East Hampton, but both town’s passed ordinances that would have required the party’s organizers to file for an event permit.

Now, it may be Sag Harbor’s turn to give the party the heave ho.

At the Harbor Committee meeting, members of that board, led by Tait, raised concerns about the potential environmental impacts of the event.

“We’re concerned about so many boats and so many people congregating in such an environmentally sensitive area,” Tait said.

Sag Harbor Cove, which is the site of multiple shellfish beds, has been the focus of studies in recent years that indicate it is particularly susceptible to environmental pollution, said Tait. When the State of New York conducted dye tests on the area — which involve pigment being released into the water to assess which way it flows and how fast —  Tait said the dye left the cove, but then went back in, indicating the cove has a weak “flush” system. In basic terms, this means that water does not strongly circulate through the cove.

The committee told Canavan, one of three people in attendance at the meeting, that it was worried party goers would need access to restroom facilities which would be unavailable on some of the smaller boats.

“I know that when I start drinking at 12 o’clock and go on to 6 o’clock that there’s a certain point that I would need to find the facilities,” said Tait.

“I know for a fact that there are many, many boats that are under 20 feet that don’t have holding tanks, that don’t have facilities,” Tait added.

Canavan protested that local authorities seem to like the party’s presence. He claimed that when he almost shut down last year’s boat party because of inclement weather, members of the police department urged him not to.

He also said the event serves people of all ages, from seniors down to children.

“What I’ve noticed in the past is grandparents dancing with their grandchildren,” he said.

Canavan said that his event will likely raise funds for the non-profit Peconic BayKeeper, which aims to protect the Peconic Bay. He indicated that the Peconic BayKeeper himself — Kevin MacAllister — would attend the Harbor Committee’s next meeting.

Tait expressed worry Wednesday that having McAllister give a statement on the environmental impact of the boat party when his group stands to gain financially from the event could create the appearance of impropriety.

“I’m a little concerned about the money trail on that,” he said.

Tait also said he is personally wary of an event that puts swimmers in close proximity to outboard motors.

“In this thing you have boats and swimmers co-mingling with no lines of delineation between the two,” he said.

The Sag Harbor Village Board of Trustees has introduced legislation aimed at allowing the village to regulate mass gatherings — events over 75 people — even if it is held on the water. A public hearing on that legislation will be held at next month’s village board meeting on July 10.

The committee tabled the discussion, but Tait said he plans to bring it up at the Harbor Committee’s July 9 session.




Harbor Committee Approves a Limited Buffer

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The most basic tool the Sag Harbor Village Harbor Committee has at its fingertips to improve water quality is to demand natural vegetative buffers to any wetlands when homeowners on the waterfront improve their properties.

For three months now, the Harbor Committee has been wrestling to require homeowners meet even the minimal requirement — a 25-foot vegetative buffer to any flagged wetlands area. The village law actually requires the board demand 75-feet of vegetative buffer, but with the many undersized lots in Sag Harbor, the committee is allowed to reduce that requirement to 25-feet.

After months of debating whether or not to require one of the Harbor Committee’s own board members to meet that minimal standard, on Monday night the committee’s chairman Bruce Tait was the lone vote against board member John Christopher’s application.

Christopher — the newest member of the Harbor Committee — is adding a one-story addition to the landward side of his 92 Redwood Road home, some 80-feet from the wetlands. His current home sits about 45-feet from the wetlands. The Christopher family originally asked the committee to grant them the permit with no vegetative buffer to the flagged wetlands, pointing to the fact that while neighbors have cut back their wetlands they have maintained theirs.

It is illegal to cut back wetlands, under village law and under the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation regulations.

After months of debate, the Christophers came back with a plan that shows 15-feet of vegetative buffer. They have argued any more of a buffer would make their lawn too small to enjoy.

Under their proposal, the Christophers would have 28-feet of lawn on the most heavily planted side of their yard, and 50-feet of lawn on the least heavily planted side.

“I think the buffer is adequate given the size of the lawn,” said board member Dr. Tom Halton.

Board member Jeff Peters agreed, praising the Christophers for not cutting back their wetlands in the first place.

Tait cautioned the board that without being very specific about why the Christopher property should be allowed to not meet the minimum requirement laid out in the village’s wetlands code, they could be setting a precedent.

“I think we have to take these case by case,” countered Dr. Halton.

The committee approved the Christopher application, with Tait voting against the measure. A permit will be formally voted on at next month’s December 12 meeting.

The board also unanimously granted David Sokolin a wetlands permit to construct a pool in an existing deck space, provided he provide 20-feet of vegetative buffer to the deck.

Sag Harbor Village Environmental Planning Consultant Rich Warren noted that the board could allow this exception simply because the footprint of the Sokolin house is not expanding, and the pool is being reconstructed in its original location on an existing deck.

Lastly, T & K Redwood Associates at 64 Redwood Road will be granted their permit next month to allow for the demolition of a non-conforming residence, the reconstruction of a new home, decks, spa and pool. They have agreed to plant a 30-foot vegetative buffer to the wetlands.

In addition to the board’s December 12 meeting, the committee agreed to host a work session on Friday, December 9 at 10 a.m.