The developers of a controversial waterfront project in Sag Harbor approached the village planning board last week to ask why they should have to answer certain questions about the impact the project may have on water quality and shellfish in Sag Harbor Cove. They also asked for more specifics on how they should develop alternative plans for the proposed 18-unit condominium project.
On Tuesday, November 25, Kim Gennaro, director of planning for Freudenthal and Elkowitz, the firm handling the environmental review for the developers of the luxury condo project known as Ferry Road, approached the board with a list questions.
In a letter to the board, Gennaro brings up four points of contention. Using both baseline and seasonal water quality data that are already available, the board has asked the developers to employ a New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) method of testing to determine if the project may cause any potential contamination to Sag Harbor Cove.
Gennaro said while she does not object to providing the baseline and seasonal water quality results available for the area, she was concerned about the prospect of her client having to perform its own water quality analysis, given this is an area already developed.
Sag Harbor Village environmental planning consultant Richard Warren maintained that the analysis should be completed, noting members of the public specifically asked for it. He added that the village’s Local Waterfront Revitalization Plan (LWRP) backs up this request by the planning board.
“My concern is to make sure the questions that have been asked by the public are responsibly responded to by the applicant,” he said.
The board has also asked East End Ventures to analyze the effect of the construction of 18 proposed accessory boat slips on shellfish habitats in the area.
Gennaro argued that the NYSDEC would perform their own analysis of this project as it related to the docks and wondered if the board would instead accept their findings, rather than make her clients perform their own study.
Warren reminded the board that the NYSDEC would only be able to approve the project after the planning board was done with its own review, and therefore, the board should have its own research to look at.
“The burden is unfortunately on the applicant to get the resources,” noted village attorney Anthony Tohill. He added that East End Ventures must make “an honest, reasonable, and intelligent effort” to produce what the planning board needs to come to their decision.Â
Adding that the project is fairly controversial locally, Warren noted “the quality of these responses is going to have to be very high” and that the public will be paying attention to the actions of the developer, as well as the village and its planning board.
Gennaro did score one win, in that the planning board agreed that a study conducted by Dr. David Bernstein, Director of the Institute of Long Island Archaeology on archeological artifacts on the waterfront site was acceptable, as long as it is approved by the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation.
East End Ventures must also submit alternative plans to the planning board, and last Tuesday, Gennaro said she wanted more specifics on what those alternatives should entail. The board has asked for alternative architectural designs, an alternative layout including the location of the condos on the site, an alternative that reduces the size and the scale of the project and an alternative that reduces the number of grade changes and retaining walls needed for the project.
She added that it was her concern that once the board begins exploring alternatives, it could become a never-ending process.
“We were specifically imprecise,” added Warren, noting that the alternatives should be designed based on the research the applicant does on potential adverse impacts. If an impact can’t be mitigated, he said, it should be the subject of an alternative.
“During the study of the project, only then will we be able to come up with the alternatives because right now we are blind,” said board member Jack Tagliasacchi. “I don’t even have a plan. I don’t know the impacts on anything.”
“The alternative portions of [the environmental review] is going to be of huge importance,” said Tohill. “The meetings have not happened yet, but having 39 years of experience, I can hear the public now and there is going to be a lot of discussion about alternatives.”