On Tuesday night, Sag Harbor resident Mare Dianora sat in the front row of the Sag Harbor Village Board of Trustees meeting with a virtual library of books on raising chickens and building coops in her lap. Her young son Finny, came into the board room clutching a stuffed chicken he has brought to some four meetings to wish his mother luck on the approval of a proposed law she has championed to make it legal for residents to raise and keep chickens in Sag Harbor.
Neither Finny nor Dianora left disappointed.
With only one resident questioning aspects of the law, although supportive of the measure overall, the Sag Harbor Village Board of Trustees officially made it legal. Residents can now raise and keep chickens and bantams, a small variety of poultry, on their properties.
The law allows people in the residential districts of the village to keep up to six chickens per 20,000 square-feet of lot area, or just shy of a half acre of land. Residents will not be able to have more than 18 chickens on their property, regardless of its size, and the sale of any poultry items, including eggs is prohibited.
The intent of the law is to allow families like Dianora’s the ability to raise their own poultry for fresh eggs and fertilizer.
As trustee Robby Stein illustrated with a large plastic figure of a rooster and smaller version of a chicken, roosters are expressly forbidden under the new law, which has been lauded by the board with little protest from residents since Dianora proposed the legislation in April.
The law allows the keeping of poultry as a special exception use — meaning residents will have to apply to the building department and will need approval from the village planning board before they can start raising their broods. Coops or any structures used to house the animals are limited to 100 square-feet or 10 feet in height and must be kept in the rear yard. A coop must also meet a 20-foot setback to the property line and any outdoor pen must meet the standard for an accessory structure, keeping a distance of 10-feet from the property line – an issue clarified by the board at the questioning of resident Peter Price.
According to Sag Harbor Village Attorney Fred W. Thiele, Jr., the legislation is nearly identical to a law adopted in North Haven Village last year, after Brett and Kristin Morgan successfully lobbied that village board for the right to keep chickens on their property.
After the meeting, Dianora said she planned to apply for her coop and chickens through the village building department as soon as possible, meaning Finny will soon have more than a stuffed chicken to cuddle.
Dianora added that throughout the process she was actually surprised more members of the public didn’t come forward in opposition to the law, but that it spoke of the community’s commitment.
“I felt there was a great deal of support from the community in the people I have spoken to along the way,” she said. “We are very excited and hope to be taking care of chickens very shortly.”
By Marissa Maier
The North Haven Village Board is getting ready to hold their annual tax sale, when potential investors are allowed to bid on delinquent taxes on properties in the village. Georgia Welch, the village clerk, noted at Tuesday’s board of trustees meeting that two parcels fit this bill. One tax bill is for around $530, while the other is roughly $650, pointed out Welch.
“It is an annual thing that every municipality that collects taxes does. Any time there are lien taxes that run almost a whole year late by law a municipality can sell the taxes that are due to anyone who wants to buy them,” explained village mayor Laura Nolan.
The tax sale business can be extremely profitable as the investor who pays the taxes then owns an interest in the property. The investor also must be paid back their initial investment plus one percent interest for every month the debt goes unpaid.
“It is a type of investment,” noted Nolan. However, those in the tax sale business often buy bundles of delinquent taxes in larger areas and earn thousands, whereas in North Haven one would make only a few dollars, remarked Welch.
“It isn’t worth the effort,” said Welch. “In other townships, people will buy them all up and make a nice tight profit.”
Trustee Jeff Sander wondered how the village would sell the delinquent taxes. Welch answered they would be sold on a first come first served basis, but added the delinquent taxes have never been sold. Apparently, a man in the tax sale business visited the village last year to check out the delinquent properties but quickly lost interest when he saw how marginal the tax bills were. Notice of the tax sale must be published three times, with the last date being March 11.Welch noted that the actual tax sale will be held on Tuesday, March 16.
As election day nears, the mayoral and village trustee race in Sag Harbor Village is heating up, but over in neighboring North Haven Village, this year’s election season promises to be quiet as current trustees Jeff Sander and Russell “Jim” Smyth are running unopposed. Sander, a local business owner, is currently wrapping up his first term as trustee and was named as village deputy mayor in 2008. Smyth is a 47-year resident of the village and is entering his third term as trustee. Before becoming a trustee, Smyth served for eight years on the village planning board.
In the coming years, Sander would like to see the village acquire more property for open space preservation. He pointed out that the village recently purchased a 2.2 acre plot of land.
“I hope we continue to use whatever funds are available to buy parcels. This is one of the most important [projects] for the village,” noted Sander.
Although Sander has taken a keen interest in acquiring additional open space for the village, he added that it’s imperative for the village to remain fiscally conservative as the East End faces an uncertain economic future.
“One of our biggest challenges right now is continuing to manage our funds in a responsible way,” explained Sander. “All villages including ours are being impacted by the economy. Revenues are down in part because of decreases in the fees collected for building permits and other permits, though our costs continue to rise. This year we had to replace the heating system in village hall.”
Smyth concurred on the need to preserve open space and practice fiscal responsibility, but added that the board needs to continue keeping the village’s deer population at bay and beautifying various points in the village, similar to the recent round-about beautification project. Over his last term, Smyth said the village has worked on updating its website and improving office operations, and will continue to do so over the next couple years.
“I don’t foresee anything new confronting the village,” reported Smyth. “We just want to continue the work we have been doing. Most of the village projects are things we have been continuing for years and years.”
“The deer is always something in the back of our minds and we are always dealing with waterfront and dock issues,” continued Smyth, who added that the village is relatively small and primarily residential with only one commercial business in North Haven.
Overall, Smyth noted that the current North Haven village board has established a certain rhythm that he would like to see continue in the future.
“We have a strong group of people on the board who have been working together for a while,” said Smyth.
“I can provide some expertise and some good judgment to village politics. I enjoy working on the board,” added Sander of his forthcoming candidacy.
“They are great trustees. I am glad they are rerunning,” said current village mayor Laura Nolan. “They have certainly been an asset in helping me on the board and I am happy there isn’t a contested election this year.”
In fact, the Village of North Haven hasn’t seen a contested election since 2007.
On Tuesday, June 2, The North Haven Village Board of Trustees presented a draft for a local law pertaining to boat storage. Once the summer season ends, residents often abandon their kayaks, sailboats, hobie-cats, canoes and dinghies at the end of Sunset Beach Road.
The draft law stipulates that the village will grant boat permits for the storage of boats on village beaches. Once a permit is granted, the boat owner will be given a registration sticker to be placed on the boat. The boat must be removed from beaches by October 31. Boats left on the beach after this date will be considered abandoned and the village will have the right to sell these boats or destroy them.
The village will hold a public hearing on the law on Tuesday, July 7, at 5 p.m.
In addition to legislation on abandoned boats, John Jermain Memorial Library Director Cathy Creedon visited the board to present plans for the library’s expansion, which will be up for a referendum vote on June 29.
Trustee James Morrissey, a self-proclaimed regular patron of the library, asked why the library couldn’t build on the Union Street side of the property to add additional space. Creedeon responded by saying the small stretch of greenery by Union Street is the best position for the library’s cesspool.
Morrissey went on to raise concerns about a lack of parking, especially when the library hosts group meetings and special events. Creedon said a parking analysis revealed there are almost 65 spaces within a block and a half radius of the building. She added that patrons are often more concerned with safely crossing the street — as the library lies at a busy intersection — than finding parking.
Trustee Jeff Sander asked if the library was exploring other sources of funding in addition to taxpayer money. Creedon said she was actively pursuing private donations and grant money.
“A lot of people are waiting until after the referendum [to commit funding],” Creedon said of private donors.
The board appeared receptive to the building plans and referendum.