Tag Archive | "LWRP"

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.

Trustees Irked by Waterfront Plan

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By Claire Walla

For several years, Southampton Town officials have made attempts to create a Local Waterfront Revitalization Plan (LWRP), but nothing ever came to fruition. This year, the town is confident plans to finally institute the plan will succeed. However, the Southampton Town Trustees — which have jurisdiction over all town waterways up to the high-water mark — want nothing to do with it.

“The LWRP delves into everything the trustees do,” said trustee Ed Warner. “It’s just going to complicate the whole process.”

At a trustee meeting last Monday, January 3, members voted to pass a resolution exempting the trustees’ jurisdiction from any proposed LWRP. According to the resolution, “the Trustees do not wish any town agency to include any lands or structures under trustee jurisdiction in any application to New York State, specifically any Local Waterfront Revitalization Plan.”

LWRPs are administered and approved by the state. So, even though the planning document is prepared at the local level, a state representative will work with the town to analyze local land and water systems and ultimately form a comprehensive plan for future growth and development.

Town trustees worry that adding another layer of bureaucracy will merely elongate the time it takes them to make decisions.

“It could take years for a simple rule change,” Warner added. “Now, we can make a decision right away. For example, if we had a major coastal storm and 50 people needed sandbagging, [with the state involved] we wouldn’t be able to expedite that process.”

A Southampton Town steering committee has been created to discuss the prospect of implementing an LWRP. It is composed of Southampton Town Land Management officials, as well as Warner and town councilwoman Bridget Fleming.

“The town has no interest in changing the authority of the trustees,” Fleming said. But, she added, there are certain issues — like stormwater runoff — that bridge the divide between water and land regulations.

“Stormwater affects what the trustees do, but they can’t regulate that,” she said adding that this is one area where a comprehensive plan would come in handy.

Fleming said she welcomed hearing the trustees’ concerns, because the steering committee hopes to tease out any issues in order to implement a plan that has more perks than not.

“One objection [to the LWRP] is that it might introduce additional regulations,” she said. “This is important to consider, but we also need to look at how land-use regulation affects the quality of our waterways. [The LWRP] gives us an opportunity to consider that in a holistic way.”

At a meeting of the trustees on December 20, members heard from several trustees in neighboring districts with LWRPs of their own, like East Hampton and Southold. They also heard from Robert Herrmann, a consultant who studied the affects of these LWRPs.

Hermann explained that the LWRP has made many processes more cumbersome, such as issuing site-specific permits. He added that the town has to fill out pages and pages of compliance reviews and assessments, then wait for the Department of State approve them, or not.

“I don’t think that the Southold Town Board fully contemplated what they were adopting until it was adopted and they saw the results of it,” Herrmann said.

However, Fleming reiterated the benefits of such a plan.

“This is a big town, and we have an extensive waterway system. [Forming a comprehensive plan] is not going to happen naturally,” she said, and explained that the town welcomes state aid for such a complex project.

“An LWRP would provide a comprehensive plan for the waters,” she added. “And if it’s also a revenue source for grant money in the future, then that’s a good thing we shouldn’t reject out of hand.”

At this point, even though the trustees have opted out of being governed by a proposed LWRP, Fleming said the town will still work with the trustees as LWRP discussions continue.

“We still value the trustees’ opinions,” she said. “Even if they’re not regulated [by an LWRP], they’re going to help inform it.”

Access to Waterfront an Issue on Notre Dame Road

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Discussion continued at the Sag Harbor Village Board meeting on Tuesday, June 8 over whether or not a strip of waterfront land off Notre Dame Road in Sag Harbor belongs to adjacent property owners Sarah and Mathew Hastings or was meant to provide village residents access to the water.

Despite the ongoing nature of the issue, discourse between the trustees and Tim McCully, the Hastings’ attorney, was undeniably heated.

McCully appeared in front of the board on the Hastings’ behalf and urged a speedy resolution of the issue so that the Hastings could proceed with their building plans to demolish their current residence and rebuild a new structure on the property, using the aforementioned strip.

Whether or not the Hastings can use this strip of land changes the number of variances they will need for the new construction, and the placement of their new septic system.

To this the trustees responded that they would protect citizens’ right to access the waterfront “vigorously,” if necessary. As Trustee Tiffany Scarlato noted in a previous meeting, if the land is village property it should rightfully be left public under the Local Water Revitalization Plan (LWRP), which requires the village to protect and encourage access to the waterfront.

Village trustees have also maintained that while McCully was able to obtain a quit claim deed to the sliver of land from descendents of the original property owner, it is the village’s position that the property was always meant to be an access to water, similar to other access points in the neighborhood.

It was not only in the Sag Harbor Municipal Building that the topic was debated, however. Mayor Brian Gilbride noted the village has received word from a neighbor concerned with the fact that the Hastings have retained the deed to the sliver of land and are seeking ownership of the parcel. This was the first correspondence from neighbors supporting the village’s decision to fight the Hastings to keep the property open for public access.

The letter, from Victor Behoriam and Darlene Miller, states that allowing the Hastings to continue with their plans using the strip of land would “set a precedent that future boards of trustees may be unable to afford to resist.” Behoriam and Miller’s letter describes the land as rightfully belonging to “taxpaying landowners in this village” who should all share equal access to the waterfront, and confidently offers to gather the voices of other residents from the area who would also “vociferously oppose this request.”