Tag Archive | "Mayor Brian Gilbride"

Developers Sue Sag Harbor Village Again

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The developers who want to build condominiums on this waterfront property have sued Sag Harbor Village.

By Stephen J. Kotz

The relationship between two developers who want to build a condominium project on Sag Harbor’s waterfront, which seemed to be thawing in recent months, has plunged back into the deep freeze.

Michael Maidan and Emil Talel, the principals in East End Ventures, who have recently proposed a scaled back eight-unit condo project on their property at 1,3,5 Ferry Road, have reinstated a federal suit against the village.

The reason for the renewal of legal hostilities is twofold, they say. First, they are upset that Mayor Brian Gilbride hired a contractor to remove a derelict dock on the waterfront of their property and second, they claim that the village has been trying to confiscate their property, or at least delay their project, by claiming ownership of a portion that was a former Metropolitan Transit Authority right-of-way.

“We resolved the last lawsuit with the understanding that the village was going to allow us to proceed with our development,” said Sam Israel, the developers’ attorney. But since last summer, “the mayor started making noises about owning a piece of our property and he had someone come onto the property and destroy a dock.”

“To make a long story short, all we want to do is do the right thing in the village,” said Mr. Maidan on Tuesday. “We want to build you a park. If you want an easement to the water, no problem. We’ll give it to you.”

“We want to show them we are nice people. We don’t want anything that doesn’t belong to us,” he added. “We are trying to do a very nice project, a very scaled down project that meets zoning.”

Village attorney Fred W. Thiele Jr. said on Wednesday that the village was within its legal rights to remove the dock, which, he said, was in danger of collapse and could have posed a major liability issue to the village because it claims ownership of the underwater land there.

He added that although East End Ventures purchased a strip of land that was the former Route 114 from the MTA at auction several years ago, outbidding the village in the process, the village had since uncovered an easement the MTA gave it to the property, rendering that purchase moot.

He said the first step in untangling the legal mess was to determine the ownership of the Route 114 right-of-way.

“It’s not that big, but it is critical,” said Mr. Israel of the right-of-way. “Take it away and it craters the whole thing.”

Mr. Thiele acknowledged that East End Ventures had withdrawn their suit earlier, but he said they did so only after “98 percent of it was dismissed.”

East End Ventures purchased the property nestled between the 7-Eleven convenience store and the North Haven Bridge in 2005. The developers at first proposed to build 22 condo units on the site, but that plan engendered fierce resistance from the community.

The village later declared a moratorium while it updated its zoning code, and Mr. Maidan and Mr. Talel have claimed in court papers they had at first been assured they would be allowed to proceed with their project under existing zoning, only to be told later they would have to meet the new stricter limits. In the meantime, they claim the conversion of the old Bulova factory into the Watchase condominiums was moving along smoothly.

Last fall, East End Ventures presented a new plan calling for the construction of only eight condos to the village Planning Board as a discussion item. The board has yet to entertain a formal application.

Mayor Questions Breakwater Yacht Club’s Lease

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Breakwater Yacht Club

By Stephen J. Kotz

The future of the lease between the nonprofit Breakwater Yacht Club and Sag Harbor Village has been called into question by Mayor Brian Gilbride, who on Wednesday said he was concerned the village has not been generating enough revenue from the arrangement.

The club, which runs a number of community sailing programs, has been operating on a 20-year lease, which expires on May 31, but that lease allows the club to exercise an option to renew it for an additional 10 years. The club has already indicated to the village that it intends to exercise that option, but Mr. Gilbride said he wants to bring its board members to the table to discuss ways to make the arrangement more fair to village taxpayers.

“I’d certainly disagree that a 20-year lease with an automatic 10-year renewal was in the best interest of the village then or in its best interest now,” Mr. Gilbride said.  He said the club pays the village $3,000 a year now and would be paying $3,500 a year for the next 10 years unless the lease is modified.

Although the club sponsors a junior sailing program for children, hands out 20 to 30 scholarships for summer sailing programs and sponsors a high school sailing team, Mr. Gilbride said it also uses its clubhouse for private parties, yoga classes, and other events that generate significant revenue.

“Absolutely not,” Mr. Gilbride responded when asked if he wanted to evict the club. “If I was, that ship would have long sailed by now.”

The lease was a discussion item at Tuesday’s Village Board meeting, and the mayor and Bruce Tait, a member of the club’s board of directors, got into a testy exchange over whether the village had the right to negotiate any portion of the lease.

“We aren’t asking to renegotiate the lease. That’s not on the table,” Mr. Tait said. He added that the only way the village could get around the lease was if it could prove the club was violating the terms of the agreement or if it sought to take property through an eminent domain proceeding if it had a public use for the property.

At Tuesday’s meeting and again on Wednesday, Fred W. Thiele Jr., the board’s attorney, said he believed the club was in its rights to exercise the option as is.

When Mr. Tait continued to press his argument, Mr. Gilbride told him he was not helping matters. “Let me tell you something. I think you are wrong. Let me tell you a little more. I know you are wrong,” Mr. Gilbride told Mr. Tait. “So before you put Breakwater in hot water why don’t you stop right there.”

On Wednesday, Olaf Neubert, the club’s commodore, said he had not been informed that the lease was going to be on the board’s agenda this week. He added that he believed it was well within its rights to exercise the option. “There are no bells or whistles attached to it,” he said.

“It is clear we are part of the community,” continued Mr. Neubert, who stressed that the club is more of a community center than a private club. He said the club, which is designated as nonprofit by the Internal Revenue Service, passed a recent audit with flying colors.

He said he looked forward to discussing the lease and the club’s future with board members as soon as possible.

Bed and Breakfasts

A proposed code amendment sponsored by Trustee Sandra Schroeder that would provide for a way for bed and breakfast to be licensed by the village drew a sharp rebuke from Pierce Hance, a resident of Main Street.

Currently bed and breakfasts are allowed if the homeowner obtains a special exception permit. Ms. Schroeder proposed the change, she has said, because the village is aware some people are quietly renting a room or two and officials are most concerned about making sure they are safe.

“What we are doing is changing the code to accommodate people who are violating the code,” said Mr. Hance. Instead of legalizing the approximately 13 bed and breakfasts advertising online “why aren’t you just going to them and saying you are violating the code. Cease and desist.”

“This is effectively validating the commercialization of the R-20 zoning district,” added Mr. Hance.

Board members and Mr. Thiele said Mr. Hance was taking a far too narrow view of the proposed amendment, which will be the subject of a public hearing next month.

In other action, the board agreed, at the request of building inspector Tom Preiato to write to the owners of the Morpurgo House at 6 Union Street, informing them that that the property is unsafe and it must be secured and portions of it demolished. The property has been in a dilapidated condition for decades and only recently emerged from the depths of a murky mortgage fraud case.  On Wednesday, Mr. Preiato said the owners would have 30 days to meet the village’s demands, or it would undertake the work itself.

Sag Harbor Approves Bay Street Gala, But Frets Over Parking

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The annual Bay Street Theater gala on Long Wharf in Sag Harbor.


By Stephen J. Kotz

Although there was an inch or two of fresh snow on the ground, the Sag Harbor Village Board was looking ahead to July on Friday morning when it met to review the request of Bay Street Theater and the Sag Harbor Center for the Arts to once again hold its summer benefit on Long Wharf on July 11.

The board, which had tabled the discussion from its December meeting, gave the green light for the cultural organization’s annual gala, provided it submit an acceptable parking plan to the village board and reduce the size of its party tent to allow emergency vehicles to gain access to the pier.

Although board members had bandied about the idea of charging Bay Street a fee of as much as $20,000 to hold the gala, they did not pursue that idea, noting the center’s importance to the village’s cultural life.

“Bay Street brings a lot to Sag Harbor,” said Mayor Brian Gilbride. “I don’t think this was an effort to deny you, it was an attempt to work through some complaints.”

Those complaints came mostly from merchants and restaurant owners, he said, who have complained that the annual cocktail party and dinner on the wharf is now using up much of the available public parking in the business district, effectively curtailing their own opportunities to make money.

One of those business owners is Trustee Ken O’Donnell, who owns La Superica restaurant.

“My concern is the parking,” said Mr. O’Donnell. “The parking didn’t work last year.” Mr. O’Donnell said with the Bay Street gala removing 80 spaces on Long Wharf and the owners of 1,3,5 Ferry Road, which has a lot next to the North Haven Bridge, closing it to public access, there would be about 140 fewer spaces available.

Another problem, Trustee Ed Deyermond said, is that the setup for the gala now begins on Thursday and the tent is not removed until Sunday, extending the parking shortage over four days during the short summer season.

Mr. Deyermond said he would support the issuance of a permit for the gala, but stressed to Tracy Mitchell, Bay Street’s executive director, “you have to  show some real initiative in parking” this year or the future of the event will be jeopardized.

Ms. Mitchell, who said Bay Street nets about $200,000 from the annual gala, added it would consider canceling its Saturday night theater performance this year to ease up on the parking crunch and would also seek once again to use the parking lot behind St. Andrew’s Catholic Church, although she acknowledged it is next to impossible to force people to park several blocks from the site.

“I don’t see someone parking at St. Andrew’s in a gown and hoofing it to Main Street,” added Mr. O’Donnell.

Mr. Gilbride suggested that Bay Street explore using Havens Beach and providing a shuttle service between it and the theater the evening of the gala. He said that a similar arrangement had worked when a major fundraiser was held at the Watchcase condominiums last year.


Sag Harbor Terminates Building Inspector

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Sag Municipal Building

By Stephen J. Kotz

The Sag Harbor Village Board in a split vote on Wednesday voted to terminate the employment of building inspector Jose Escalante.

Mayor Brian Gilbride and Trustees Ed Deyermond and Ken O’Donnell voted to end his probationary employment, while Trustees Sandra Schroeder and Robby Stein abstained.

The village hired Mr. Escalante last summer to replace Tim Platt, who resigned. But in late October, it hired East Hampton Town’s acting chief building inspector, Tom Preiato, as senior building inspector to serve as Mr. Escalante’s supervisor.

At the time, village officials were quick to say they had no problems with Mr. Escalante’s job performance, but they suggested that his lack of experience and an ongoing building boom in the village necessitated the need for a more experienced hand at the helm.

Mr. Escalante said on Wednesday afternoon that Mayor Brian Gilbride called him in for a meeting and asked for his resignation. “I said, ‘I’m not resigning,’” Mr. Escalante said. “And he said, “Alright, you’re fired.’” The mayor denied that version of events.

“I offered him the chance to resign,” said Mr. Gilbride, adding that the village board had already “voted to terminate his probation. That’s about all I’m going to say about it.”

Mr.  Escalante said that the mayor told him it was largely a budgetary matter, but he said with a month to go in the year, building permit revenue, at about $268,000 is already well above last year when the village took in $206,000.

“When Tom came in I embraced him, I brought him up to date,” said Mr. Escalante. “There’s no reason why the two of us couldn’t work together.”

Ms. Schroeder, one of the trustees who abstained, said she was opposed to terminating Mr. Escalante, whose probationary period would have ended later this month.

“I thought he was doing a good job,” she said. “He brought his heart into it.”

She said she thought the village could have compromised and perhaps split Mr. Escalante’s time as building inspector and code enforcement.

“There’s a phenomenal amount of building going on in Sag Harbor,” she said. “It makes you wonder if Jose could be filling in helping the building inspector and doing something else at the same time.”

“We appreciated his effort on behalf of the village and wish him the best of luck, but due to the financial constraints of the current budget the village couldn’t afford to keep two building inspectors,” said Mr. O’Donnell.

Mr. Deyermond declined to comment, and Mr. Stein could not be reached.

Sag Harbor Moves To Evict Yacht Yard From Village Parcel

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Yacht Yard web-1

The Sag Harbor Village Board has begun eviction proceedings to force the Sag Harbor Yacht Yard to vacate this parcel it has leased from the village for boat storage.


By Stephen J. Kotz

The Sag Harbor Village Board in a special meeting on November 5 voted to begin eviction proceedings against the Sag Harbor Yacht Yard over a parcel of land the village had been leasing to the business as a boat storage area.

The board agreed to hire attorney Lisa Kombrink, a former Sag Harbor Village and Southampton Town attorney, at a rate of $250 per hour, capping the amount it would pay her at $10,000.

The village and yacht yard have been at loggerheads since a 20-year lease on a landlocked parcel the yacht yard has used for storage ended on May 31 and the two sides were unable to strike a new deal.

Yacht yard owner Lou Grignon this week said he had not heard anything from the village for several months.

Mr. Grignon said he had been sending the village the monthly rent of $1299.38 since his lease expired. “They sent back a bunch of the checks,” he said on Tuesday. “But then they cashed one and asked me send back the others.”

Three boats, some trailers and other equipment used to store boats on land remain on the parcel. They include a 57-foot Chris-Craft owned by Trevor Barry, who recently asked the village if it would allow him to pay rent directly to it.

Mr. Grignon said Mr. Barry is a customer who works on his own boat and hopes to have it in the water next spring. “He’s the kind of customer I can’t afford to have here now,” Mr. Grignon said. “Normally, if I had that property, it would be fine. Without that property he has to go.”

At last week’s meeting, Mayor Brian Gilbride told the board he had sent Superintendent of Public Works Dee Yardley to check on the property and that he had found it in full use. The mayor said the village could possibly use the property to store and repair floating docks. He added that the village has been receiving inquiries from private businesses interested in leasing the land.

Mr. Grignon said his staff was doing its best to clear the site, but he added that the yard recently took in two boats, a 37-footer and a 48-footer that ran aground in an early November storm, with one suffering a broken rudder, the other a cracked hull.

“We had to jam them in somewhere,” Mr. Grignon said.

Mr. Grignon questioned why the village is in such a rush to get rid of him. “They’re making money off me right now,” he said.

“Lou seems to be dragging this out,” the mayor told the board. “We’re going nowhere on this. There is stuff being taken off the property and stuff being put on it.”

The mayor said village attorney Fred W. Thiele Jr. had suggested the village begin eviction proceedings.

Mr. Thiele said he had been in contact with Dennis Downes, Mr. Grignon’s attorney, about a timetable for vacating the premises. “The emails are all the same: He is going to be leaving and now it is November,” Mr. Thiele said.

When Mr. Grignon’s 20-year lease expired on May 31, he had been paying $15,592 a year. He said the village told them the property had been appraised at $20,000, so he offered to pay that amount with annual increases of 2.3 percent over 10 years. The villager countered with a five-year offer starting at $22,500 and going up 5 percent a year.

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

Sag Harbor Hires New Senior Building Inspector

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Municipal Building

By Stephen J. Kotz

East Hampton Town’s current chief building inspector, Tom Preiato, will join Sag Harbor Village as its senior building inspector on November 7.

Jose Escalante, who was hired this summer to replace Tim Platt as village inspector, will stay on for now as a building inspector and work under Mr. Preiato.

Mr. Preiato was one of the finalists for the opening last summer but said he withdrew from consideration in part because taking the job would have required a major pay cut.

Sag Harbor Mayor Brian Gilbride on Tuesday morning said the village board saw an opportunity to improve the efficiency of its building department at a time when the village is undergoing a major building boom by reaching out to Mr. Preiato, who has more than 15 years of experience as a building inspector with East Hampton Town.

“He’s been in the trenches a long time,” Mr. Gilbride said.

“No disrespect to Jose,” the mayor added. “He didn’t have the field experience. It was baptism by fire for him.”

The village’s move came as a surprise to many employees at the Municipal Building, who said they knew nothing about the village’s intention to hire a new building inspector until this week.

Mr. Preiato, who is a Sag Harbor resident, said he was looking forward to his new position. “I’m ready to jump right in,” he said. “I know there is a backlog. But I think I bring a lot to the table.”

Mr. Gilbride said the village board decided to act in large part because members were concerned about the growing backlog of building permit applications, a backlog, he added, that was already posing a problem when Mr. Platt resigned last summer.

At their October 14 meeting, board members expressed surprise that Building Department revenue had declined for the year to date, despite signs of ongoing construction work in nearly every village neighborhood.

Mr. Gilbride said after that meeting, he drove around the village and noticed that many projects were proceeding without posted building permits.

With the Watchcase condominiums under construction in the old Bulova building, Barons Cove being redeveloped and the Harbor’s Edge condominiums nearing completion, not to mention dozens of other smaller projects scattered throughout the village, Mr. Gilbride said the time to bolster the department was now.

“Before things got too out of hand, we decided to act,” Mr. Gilbride said. “Hopefully, we can now break through this backlog.”

Mr. Gilbride added that the village is looking for ways to streamline the permit process, so building permits for simple projects can be issued more quickly. “If all the paperwork is in and it doesn’t need a board approval, it shouldn’t sit 17, 18 down on the pile before it is issued,” he said.

Mr. Preiato will be paid $75,000 in his new position. The mayor said Mr. Escalante is being paid approximately $42,500 in large part because he has less experience. Mr. Escalante is a probationary employee until December.

Mr. Gilbride, who prides himself on his tight budget practices, said the increase in spending was justified. “At the end of the day, in all honesty, Tim Platt was a very valuable guy,” the mayor said. “We probably weren’t paying him what he was worth.”

Mr. Gilbride met with East Hampton Town Supervisor Larry Cantwell on Monday to discuss the matter.

Mr. Cantwell said the town is shorthanded in its own building department but would work quickly to replace Mr. Preiato.

“The building department is a very busy office,” Mr. Cantwell said, “a very busy operation, and we are going to do everything we can to keep it operating effectively.”

Mr. Preiato has served as the town’s provisional chief building inspector since late 2013. A provisional appointment is made when there is no updated Civil Service list of qualified candidates available, Mr. Cantwell said.

With Mr. Preiato leaving the town in just two weeks, the town will be down to one building inspector, Dan Casey. Another building inspector, Robert Fisher, is currently serving a work-related suspension.

Mr. Cantwell said East Hampton has already hired one retired building inspector to work on a part-time basis. He said the board would likely appoint two new full-time inspectors when it meets on November 6. It is also considering hiring another part-time inspector, he added.

The village board made the appointment at a special meeting on Tuesday morning. The village Building Department was closed afterward for a staff meeting.


Page at 63 Main Wins Reprieve Against Sag Harbor Village

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Page re open for web

The tables and diners were back in front of Page at 63 Main in Sag Harbor on Thursday evening.


By Stephen J. Kotz

Less than two weeks after the Sag Harbor Village Board of Trustees revoked the license of Page at 63 Main to have outdoor dining on Main Street, the restaurant has won a reprieve.

On Thursday, the restaurant obtained an injunction in New York State Supreme Court, restraining the village from enforcing its ruling, which was made at a July 18 meeting.

By Thursday evening’s dinner hour, the tables—and diners—had returned to the sidewalk.

Tom Horn, a Sag Harbor attorney who represented the restaurant before Justice Denise Malia in Riverhead, in a press release said he believed the court would be inclined to allow the restaurant to keep it seating through the summer season, reducing the financial impact of the village’s ruling.

“It was a good day for fairness today,” Mr. Horn said. “What the village was doing was hurting Page and for no reason other than to try and show that [the village] had the ability to hurt them. To be granted a judgment like this you have to have an extraordinary case. And we did. We had the facts, truth and law on our side and the court awarded what was fair.”

“We are delighted that we will be able to restore our seating and rehire the individuals who unfortunately had to be laid off as a result of this irresponsible revocation of our license. By ruling in our favor it is apparent that the court feels the village has overstepped its bounds” said Joe Traina, one of the restaurant’s owners in a press release.

The village revoked the license after charging that the restaurant had failed to get a building permit for a renovation project, overstepped the planning board’s approvals for that project, and had fire code violations in a wooden Dumpster enclosure.

Sag Harbor Mayor Brian Gilbride declined to comment on the ruling, referring calls to village attorney Denise Schoen, who prosecuted the case for the village.

On Friday afternoon, Ms. Schoen disagreed with Mr. Horn’s take on the way the court was leaning. The judge “was fine with letting them stay open on a temporary basis while we try to work things out,” Ms. Schoen said.

But the village attorney said it would be difficult for the court to ignore the wording of the dining license, which, she said, allows the village to revoke it for “any or no reason at all.”

The parties will return to court on August 12.


Village Revokes Page Outdoor Dining License

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Staff members clear tables and chairs from in front of Page at 63 Main after the Sag Harbor Village Board revoked the restaurant's outdoor dining license on Friday. Photo by Stephen J. Kotz.

Staff members clear tables and chairs from in front of Page at 63 Main after the Sag Harbor Village Board revoked the restaurant’s outdoor dining license on Friday. Photo by Stephen J. Kotz.

By Stephen J. Kotz

After a month of behind-the-scenes wrangling over unapproved renovations made at Page at 63 Main, the Sag Harbor Village Board pounced on Friday, July 18, revoking the restaurant’s license for outdoor dining on Main Street.

The village took the action even after one of the restaurant’s attorneys, Dennis Downes said losing the option to offer outdoor dining would cost the restaurant between $7,500 and $10,000 a day and even jeopardize its ability to stay in business.

In an 11th hour bid to appease the village, Mr. Downes said Page’s owners had offered to immediately shut down their Back Page café, behind the main restaurant, until zoning and fire code violations there were rectified and a site-plan issued for the property.

Mr. Downes conceded that mistakes had been made, but said the restaurant had been held up during the planning process and had to do the work before approvals were in hand to be ready for the summer season.

“Without those seats, there is a lot of money being lost,” he said of the outdoor dining. “It could be the difference between being able to stay alive in the winter where there are less people out here.”

But the board would not be swayed. “We’re here talking because when there was a suspension… the right thing would have been to remove the tables and chairs and let’s get to the bottom of this,” Mayor Brian Gilbride said.

He referred to an action taken by building inspector Tim Platt, who had cited the business for doing the renovation work with neither a site plan approval nor a building permit and had ordered it to suspend its outdoor dining service until the charges were sorted out. Instead, he said, the restaurant’s owners “thumbed their nose” at the village.

The board’s action clearly got the restaurant owners’ attention. A few minutes after it revoked the license, and Page’s owners and managers left the Municipal Building grumbling among themselves, waiters and busboys were scurrying about, clearing the tables and chairs from in front of the restaurant before the evening’s dinner rush.

On Tuesday, Mr. Downes, and Tom Horn, another attorney for the restaurant, were in Sag Harbor Village Justice Court for an initial appearance on the restaurant’s behalf. Village Justice Andrea Schiavoni said she would have to recuse herself from hearing the case because of a relationship with one of the restaurant’s owners and adjourned the case until August.

Speaking outside the courtroom, Mr. Horn, who said he had only had time to quickly review the charges against the restaurant, nonetheless expressed confidence it would prevail in court. “I think the charges are technically flawed and actually flawed,” Mr. Horn said, “and I say that based on my 11 years’ experience as a fire marshal.” Before becoming an attorney, Mr. Horn was a fire marshal for East Hampton Town.

The restaurant’s saga took another turn on Tuesday night when Mr. Downes, and Gerard Wawryk, one of its owners, appeared before the Planning Board, trying to straighten out the confusion over the restaurant’s renovation project, which was undertaken this spring.

The key issues revolved around changes to the proposed site plan for the dining area now known as the Back Page Café. At a June 26 village board meeting, then-planning board chairman Neil Slevin said the restaurant had done work that planners had not intended.

That included moving without permission the location of an enclosure that would allow it to keep its dumpsters refrigerated as well as the replacement of a grass waiting area with a bluestone patio.

One of the village’s attorneys, Denise Schoen, said that the wooden Dumpster building, which had been placed next to a fence beside Murph’s Backstreet Tavern and connected to the electric service, posed a fire hazard, a charge the restaurant’s owners denied.

Ms. Schoen added that the Back Page had originally been presented as a waiting area, where restaurant patrons could enjoy a drink or hors d’oeuvres while waiting for a table inside, but had, in fact, been turned into an outdoor expansion of the restaurant.

Mr. Downes has said the planning board approved the changes when it accepted a new survey of the site last winter, but board members said it was an oversight.

Despite the disagreement, planning board members were amenable to tweaking the site plan for the Back Page and said they would okay the bluestone patio even though it would exceed the allowable lot coverage because it was served by sufficient drainage.

But planners said they would not allow the dumpster enclosure to remain in its current location because it effectively eliminated the restaurant’s driveway and prevented delivery trucks from backing in off the street, forcing them to instead block one lane of traffic on Division Street.

On Tuesday, Mr. Wawryk offered to remove the dumpster building and replace it with two smaller enclosures that would be set back on either side of the driveway farther from Division Street to provide space for delivery trucks.

Planners said they would send a memo supporting the changes to the village Zoning Board of Appeals, which has held off on a decision on the restaurant’s application for variances, pending a resolution of the site plan issues.

At last week’s special meeting, when the board informed Page’s owners that it was considering revoking the restaurant’s outdoor dining privilege, Mr. Downes tried at first to argue that it was “a was “a valuable property right” that the village could not revoke without “due process.”

Village attorney Fred W. Thiele Jr. called those charges “ludicrous,” adding that the village only charged $100 for a license and said if outdoor seats were as valuable as Mr. Downes said they were, the village should be charging more. “It’s a privilege to use public property for a private use,” Mr. Thiele said.

Sag Harbor Village Board Revokes Page at 63 Main Outdoor Dining License

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Waiters remove chairs from Page at 63 Main Friday afternoon after the Sag Harbor Village Board of Trustees revoked the restaurant’s outdoor dining license. 

By Stephen J. Kotz

The Sag Harbor Village Board of Trustees on Friday, July 18, revoked the outdoor dining license of Page at 63 Main restaurant. The village board took the action, Mayor Brian Gilbride said, primarily because of ongoing code compliance issues with the restaurant’s new Back Page café, which opened earlier this year.

It did so after attorney Dennis Downes—who told the board the outdoor dining on Main Street earned the restaurant between $7,500 and $10,000 a day—said its owners would shut down the Back Page café immediately until zoning code violations were resolved and a site plan was issued if the village would allow it to keep its outdoor dining license.

Minutes after the village issued its order, at about 5 p.m., waiters were busy removing the tables and chairs that had graced the front of the restaurant next door to the Municipal Building.

The restaurant found itself in hot water when village officials said it made improvements to the property without first obtaining building permits. Village officials also said the restaurant created an outdoor dining area with a slate patio, when the village Planning Board had intended for it to be used simply as a waiting area for patrons who wanted to dine in the main restaurant.

Village officials also said a refrigerated Dumpster enclosure that was built behind the Back Page posed a fire hazard because it was wired for electricity, a charge the restaurant’s representatives denied.

The village also charged that Page did not remove the same number of seats from inside the restaurant as it offered outside, as it had agreed to do when applying for the license.

Last week, the village building inspector suspended the Main Street dining license, pending the restaurant’s appearance next week in village Justice Court. In the meantime, said Mayor Gilbride, the restaurant’s owners “thumbed their nose” at the village.

“We’re here talking because when there was a suspension… the right thing would have been to remove the tables and chairs and let’s get to the bottom of this,” the mayor said.

Mr. Downes sought to prevent the village board from taking action, saying the outdoor dining right was “a valuable property right” that the village could not revoke without “due process.”

Village attorney Fred W. Thiele Jr. called those charges “ludicrous,” adding that the village only charged $100 for a license and said if outdoor seats were as valuable as Mr. Downes said they were, the village should be charging more. “It’s a privilege to use public property for a private use,” Mr. Thiele said.

Mr. Downes conceded that mistake had been made, but said the restaurant had been held up during the planning process and had to do the work to be ready for the summer season.

“Without those seats, there is a lot of money being lost,” said Mr. Downes of the outdoor dining. “It could be the difference between being able to stay alive in the winter where there are less people out here.”

Traffic Calming Inching Forward in Sag Harbor

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By Stephen J. Kotz

An effort to make Sag Harbor’s streets safer for pedestrians and bicyclists inched forward Tuesday when Mayor Brian Gilbride told members of a group that has promoted and offered to underwrite new traffic calming measures that they should continue their fundraising efforts as they await formal village approval—approval he reiterated could come as early as next month.

Susan Mead of the organization Serve Sag Harbor, which has offered to pay for the work, told the village board, that her group has selected four intersections—Main and Glover streets, Main and John streets, Jermain and Oakland avenues, and Jermain and Atlantic avenues—for a pilot program that would make use of painted pavement and planters to test the effectiveness of the designs.

The group had originally wanted to make Main Street at the John Jermain Library a top priority, but had chosen to hold off there because of ongoing construction, she told the board.

Ms. Mead said the total cost of the project, including design work, painting and planters, and in-kind donations would come to about $25,000.

Last month, when Michael King, a planning consultant for the group, made a presentation of eight potential intersections for the pilot program, the board indicated it would most likely be ready to give its formal approval at its June meeting. On Tuesday, Mayor Gilbride said before the village formally signed off on the four intersections, he wanted the fire department, police and highway department to offer their input.

“I’m sure there is going to be some pilot project started and completed this summer,” Mr. Gilbride said on Wednesday, adding that a decision on whether to make them permanent is a long way off and depends on their reception by village residents. “I’ll be interested in seeing what the response is,” he added.

Of the four proposed intersections designs, the one that generated the greatest concern among board members was the one that called for a substantial narrowing and tightening of the sweeping corner of Jermain Avenue at Atlantic Avenue and Clinton Street in front of Pierson High School.

“Good luck with that one,” quipped Trustee Ed Deyermond apparently in reference to the heavy traffic there at the start and end of the school day.

“This is just an observation, but you are going to have a problem there,” added Mayor Gilbride. “This is a pretty aggressive plan.”

“It is an aggressive plan,” replied Jonas Hagen, an urban planner who has been working on the project, “but it is pilot and it can be changed.”

Mr. Hagen, who is the son of village ZBA chairman Anton Hagen, said that the school corner was of special concern because of the presence of school children and “vehicles going around that corner at a very high speed.”

“I don’t want to moralize, but I think we know how high the stakes are,” said Mr. Hagen, adding that unless the village takes action to safeguard its streets for pedestrians and bicyclists, a tragedy is waiting to happen.

Before the board even began its discussion of the traffic calming project, Bayard Fenwick, who lives on Madison Street, near its problematic intersection with Jermain Avenue, called for action there during the public comment period.

“There are literally almost fistfights,” said Mr. Fenwick. “I can only imagine it’s going to get worse.” Mr. Fenwick, who offered to allow the village to mount monitoring cameras on his house, said that many drivers are apparently not aware that the intersection is a four-way stop. Matters are made worse, he added, because large trucks continue to use Jermain Avenue as a shortcut through the village and a large number of landscape trucks pulling long trailers further complicate things.

In other action, at the request of Mayor Gilbride, the board will hold a hearing next month on an amendment to the village code that would allow it to establish a rebate and incentive program for residents who upgrade failing septic systems.

“In the upper cove, we are starting to see issues,” Mr. Gilbride said on Wednesday. “We are a waterfront community, and this is something I’d really like to get done.”

Mr. Gilbride said he would like to see the village commit to spending $50,000 on the program. “If it is successful, we can continue it next year,” he added.

Rebates would being limited to 50 percent of the total cost of the work with total reimbursements, depending on the extent and type of work, capped at $2,500 to $6,000, according to a draft of the new law.

Mr. Gilbride estimated that a typical septic system would cost approximately $5,000.

“I would hope people around the water might take advantage of this,” the mayor added. “I think there are some failing systems that should be replaced. I’m thinking of older systems that go back to the ’70 when they didn’t always have a septic tank.”

Village attorney Denise Schoen, who was sitting in for the board’s regular attorney, Fred W. Thiele Jr., raised the concern that residents who have applications before the Harbor Committee or ZBA, which require them to replace their sepetic systems, might try to apply for the rebates. “I’m curious if they are also going to be eligible for this—and it is going to come up,” she told the board.

On Wednesday, Mr. Gilbride said the law would be tweaked to make sure that applicants who are ordered to replace their systems as part of a larger development project would not be allowed to apply for a rebate.