Mariann Megna’s family lived in Sag Harbor for 40 years. Her son attends school in the Sag Harbor School District and she and her husband Martin have run their business, the Megna Glass Studio on Bridge Street, Sag Harbor for over a decade. But with just a verbal agreement from their landlord that the Megnas can stay in their current space through January and a growing business in desperate need of more space, Mariann has been wondering for the last two years whether the Megna family will be able to call Sag Harbor home for much longer.
Which was why, she said on Wednesday, that the prospect of leasing a portion of the 64 Jermain Avenue building owned in part by Gabe and Diane Schiavoni was so appealing to the Megna family. But whether or not this concept is acceptable to the village remains to be seen as the planning board refrained from discussing the matter at the advice of village attorney Anthony Tohill.
On Tuesday, July 22 the Megnas, with the Schiavoni family in the audience, approached the Sag Harbor planning board in a discussion item on the prospect of leaving 3,000 square feet on the west side of the former Eaton Engraving Factory for a glassblowing studio, cold shop and office space.
In his presentation, Martin Megna noted his current studio is not a retail shop, but operates by appointment only — a practice he would continue on Jermain Avenue. The studio has worked on a number of glass restoration projects for village residents, he added, and provides tours and programming for area schools. For the most part the Megna Glass Studio is focused on projects like glass doorknobs, chandeliers and art installations.
“We would love to stay in Sag Harbor,” he said. “We have made it our home with our 13-year-old son Timothy.”
Outside of the fact that their lease has only been extended until January, the Megnas are also hoping to acquire a copper machine for engraving and other museum-quality glass blowing and engraving tools in Chicago this week — equipment that will necessitate more space for the workshop.
“Before we ask any questions in terms of the specifics of the use,” said new planning board chairman Neil Slevin. “It strikes me we have to look at this in terms of the legality of the change of use.”
But the board would not even venture that far.
Tohill called the application “an important application” deserving of legal counsel for both the Megna family and the Schiavoni family.
“It is not a matter the board can be in a position of giving advice,” said Tohill, who rattled off a list of issues legal counsel should explore on behalf of the applicants including if the space has a pre-existing, non-conforming use and whether it will be affected by the new zoning laws the village is considering adopting.
Michael Fitzgerald, a Jermain Avenue neighbor, began his comments by saying they did not reflect his position on this particular proposal. He called the building “one of the great eyesores of Sag Harbor” that has decayed to a terrible state. Fitzgerald said there were concerns about any environmental cleanup needed at the site, as well as the transformation of the neighborhood since the factory building was built. The neighborhood is now largely residential.
On Wednesday, Mariann said she expected the Schiavonis would file a formal application with the planning board for next month’s August 26 meeting.
Despite offers for space in Springs and through both Southampton and East Hampton town historical societies, Mariann hopes they can keep their business, and family, in the village.
“It’s just not where our home is,” she said.Meg
The Schiavoni Building on Jermain Avenue, which the Megna family hopes will become their new home. (michael heller photo)