Tag Archive | "Planning board"

Aquaponic Farming, Rooftop Garden Proposed for Sag Harbor’s Page at 63 Main

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By Tessa Raebeck

Hoping to join the growing farm-to-table food movement on the East End, Page at 63 Main has proposed a greenhouse that would employ aquaponic farming and a rooftop garden to enable the restaurant to grow its vegetables on site.

Aquaponics is farming that combines hydroponics and aquaculture in a symbiotic environment. Through hydroponics, plants are cultivated in water and aquatic animals (in this case fish) are raised through aquaculture. Aquaponics allows the water from the aquaculture system — filled with nutrients from fish by-products — to be then fed into the hydroponic system to fuel the growing plants.

Attorney Dennis Downes represented Gerard Wawryk, one of the owners of the Main Street, Sag Harbor restaurant, at a Sag Harbor Planning Board meeting Tuesday.

The building currently has a footprint of 3,860 square feet, an area the project would not alter. The building’s front portion is two stories, the middle section has a one-story frame and masonry structure and the rear section has two stories. The restaurant occupies the building’s ground floor and the second floor houses a residential apartment.

Although the footprint would not be changed, the proposal would add 835 square feet of space to the existing second floor (which does not currently meet the full footprint) which would be added over the one story middle portion of the building and serve as a seeding area. A partial 481 square foot third floor over the rear potion of the building would serve as a greenhouse and the second story roof would house a garden.

“There is no change in parking or change in sewer,” Downes said Tuesday, adding that water in the tanks would not be going into the sewer as board members had previously wondered.

The plan was first introduced to the planning board in a work session November 26. At Tuesday’s meeting, Downes asked the board to adopt a resolution to send a 30-day letter for lead agency status and to allow the demolition of a gable roof.

Downes said renovations to the kitchen, which did not require approval, are underway and the applicants want to “put a solid roof on top of it that they can then incorporate it into a new building at a later date.”

The board adopted the resolution for lead agency status and entertained a motion to send a memo to building inspector Tim Platt allowing the demolition of the gable roof.

Planning board member Greg Ferraris asked Downes for documentation from an expert verifying the plan, in fact, has no effect to waste management and Downes replied he would have the sewer flow verified.

Bid to Replace Guy-Wire with Monopole Moves Ahead in Noyac

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By Claire Walla

Plans to replace a 203-foot guy-wire tower that stretches up out of the hills of Noyac with a 190-foot monopole have slid through the Southampton Town Planning Board without a hitch. Last Thursday, March 8 the public hearing on the application (by AT&T and Verizon Wireless, LLC) was officially closed.

After a 10-day comment period, the planning board will reconvene to discuss the written report submitted by town planner Claire Vail.

“The guy-wire pole was much larger and less attractive,” said planning board member Jacqui Lofaro.

The board has 60 days in which to make a decision. The application is tentatively scheduled to be discussed by the board at its April 26 meeting.

The property in question belongs to Noyac resident Myron Levine, whose house sits on an adjoining piece of property just off Middle Lane Highway. According to Levine, the cell-tower swap is a win-win for all parties: it replaces a large wiry tower with a less-imposing pole, and the new structure will allow for more wireless carriers to put antennae in the area.

“AT&T has already decided to come onto this tower, so one benefit already is that you’ll have Verizon and AT&T,” he said. Currently, the tower only carries signals for Verizon.

Levine said that after the board makes its decision in April, he’ll have to file for a building permit for the new monopole and then construction can begin. Vail confirmed the whole replacement process should take about two months to complete.

“Everyone anticipates that probably by the end of the summer the tower will be up and the other will be down,” Levine continued.

The current structure — in the shape of a capitol ‘H’ with a cross bar on top — was erected sometime in the 1940s as a radio tower. AT&T eventually acquired the structure, which now only sends cell-phone signals. But, it wasn’t until Levine actually purchased the property in 2008 that the plan to replace the old model with a newer monopole was enacted.

According to a presentation on the project from Verizon Wireless, LLC the monopole will hold all of its antennae internally. So, in addition to being far shorter than the current structure, it will never have to branch out vertically to accommodate more carriers. The pole would have room for up to six different carriers at one time.

As part of Verizon’s presentation on the proposed monopole, the company worked with Creative Visuals, Inc. to produce computer generated imaging that shows the visual impacts of a monopole as opposed to the current structure.

The company took pictures from 16 different vantage points, including stretches of Noyac Road, Long Beach and the Jordan Haerter Memorial Bridge. The company concluded that — when swapping the guy-wire tower for the monopole — the proposed monopole improved the Noyac vista.

Bridgehampton Company Eyes Monopole

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web Bridgehampton Monopole

By Claire Walla


Amongst the usual array of residential subdivisions and commercial change-of-use applications, last week the Southampton Town planning board saw this word: monopole.

At its regular meeting last Thursday, January 12, the planning board agenda included a site plan application submitted by a company called Elite Towers, LLC, in conjunction with cellular provider AT&T. The plan proposes putting a 120-foot high cell tower (known as a monopole because all antennae are contained inside the structure) on a piece of property near Foster Avenue in Bridgehampton.

The area in question encompasses 16,213 square feet close to the railroad tracks, just off Butter Lane. It also sits in a commercial district that’s currently home to an auto service and repair facility, an interior design studio, and a steel and welding company.

According to town documents, the land is owned by a company called Hampton Terminal, LLC, based in Patchogue. The property already has an 874-square foot building, which, according to the site plan, would be used to house equipment associated with the cell tower. Both Elite Towers and New Cingular Wireless PCS, LLC (otherwise known as AT&T) did not return calls for comment.

According to Southampton Town Planner Claire Vail, any proposed monopole would have to be governed by certain setbacks. In a residential zone, a tower must not exceed any height equal to or greater than 100 percent of the distance between it and the closest residential building. (In other words, if a pole happens to be 100 feet away from the closest house, it may not exceed 100 feet.) For commercial districts, Vail added, that threshold is 300 percent.

The applicants for this particular application, she said, “don’t even seem to meet this setback.” While the closest residence is technically 551 feet away from the location of the proposed pole, there are commercial buildings well within 120 feet.

Currently, the site location is considered by the town to be an Aquifer Protection Overlay District. Vail explained that this is means it is recognized by the town of Southampton as being an area of recharge for groundwater. Basically, Vail continued, “it’s an area of avoidance.”

However, Vail continued to say that the border for the “Aquifer Protection Overlay District” is not so clearly defined. And there’s also the fact that this land has already seen some construction.

“It’s a site that’s already been disturbed,” she clarified.

Vail said the last monopole application pertaining to a site in Bridgehampton was approved back in 2002. The 120-foot pole, owned by LIPA, that now sits just off Montauk Highway would have had to abide by similar commercial and residential zone setbacks, however this piece of property already contained three poles.

“We have a provision in our code that allows you to replace a pole in kind and in place if it’s within 10 feet [of its original size],” Vail explained. Even though the proposed tower ended up being 20 feet higher than the original, Vail said the planning board gave LIPA a waiver for the project, compromising on the height in exchange for LIPA agreeing to move the tower further away from Montauk Highway.

“It was a very long process… and neighbors complained,” Vail recollected. But, she said the town was satisfied with the compromise. “It’s always a give and take with these things.”

At this point Vail said the site plan for Foster Avenue has not yet been fully vetted. Last week, the board passed a resolution to hold a pre-submission conference on the application, which is currently slated for its next meeting on Thursday, February 9.

Headley Studio Plans Approved, with Changes

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During Tuesday’s Sag Harbor Planning Board meeting, Michael Minkoff, the prospective buyer of the Headley Studio property on Main Street, was granted site plan approval for his project, though this approval came with a few contingencies. In his most recent site plan, Minkoff created a private parking space on the property. This space, however, wasn’t within a ten-foot clearance to the nearest building on the property, which is required by village law. Miles Anderson, Minkoff’s lawyer, presented an alternative to the board. He said Minkoff was willing to move the private parking space into the driveway. “[Minkoff] wants to be able to promise the tenant a private off-street parking space,” said Anderson, speaking of the art gallery interested in leasing the ground floor retail space.
At the close of the meeting, the board signed off on the site plan approval, under the condition the garage parking is reflected in an amended site plan, the pool equipment storage be moved from the garage to the basement and the cellar door be moved further away from the driveway. Sag Harbor Village Attorney Anthony Tohill urged Minkoff to go before the zoning board of appeals for a variance for an on-site parking space, not located in the garage. This space would be five feet away from the building, which is required under state law. The original parking space on the property was closer to the building than five feet.
Site plan approval was still granted, but Minkoff must submit amended plans noting the new on-site parking spot. Minkoff will still have to relocate the cellar entrance. Currently, the entrance is near the driveway, and could create a hazard if someone accidentally drove into it.
Minkoff will next have to visit the Historic Preservation and Architectural Review Board for final action on the amended site plans. If the ARB approves these plans, they will grant a certificate of appropriateness for the renovation.

Neighbors Bicker over a Proposed Hotel and Restaurant in Bridgehampton

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Bulls Head Inn

 

As winds blew at tremendous speeds outside, so did differences of opinion inside Southampton Town Hall last Thursday as residents of the hamlet of Bridgehampton discussed the development of a new hotel and spa on the corner of Montauk Highway and the Bridgehampton/Sag Harbor Turnpike — a gateway area of the hamlet.

The proposed resort has been discussed among members of the community for a number of years; this week, it was discussed during a planning board meeting where residents and interested parties had a chance to speak on the matter during a public hearing. 

The Bulls Head Inn would feature a 22-room hotel and restaurant with wellness center and conference center capabilities. The inn would also have spa-like amenities like quiet rooms, a pool and a workout gym.

Richard Van de Kieft of the Raynor Group, who represents the applicant, and owner Bill Campell, described the project as a “retreat destination with overnight accommodations.” The current facility, according to Van de Kieft, needs to be “restored” and “rehabilitated,”and the applicant would need to make some major repairs to bring the historic structure up to current health and safety requirements, including adding an elevator and some improvements to the stairs. The developers also intend to meet LEED standards, which will require green building techniques.

The project would not only rehabilitate the current structure, the historic Judge Abraham Rose House, but also add four two-story cottages of just over 1500 square feet on the property.  

Residents of Bridgehampton showed up on Thursday en masse to show both support, and discontent with the project.

The first speaker was James Levoci, a neighbor to the property. Levoci argued that the property is “not commercial and never was,” he then asked the members of the planning board, “how many of you would like to live next to a parking lot?”

Levoci also asked the planning board to investigate the zoning of the area and the “pre-existing, non-conforming” status of some of the structures. 

 

Neighbor speaks against the Bulls Head Inn

“You have a covenant with me,” said Levoci to the planning board. “If I purchased a piece of residential property then there is a covenant…the town has the responsibility to the taxpayer to uphold that covenant.”

He also said that if the project was approved, it would be similar to the town saying, “It’s okay to come in and devalue someone’s property.”

More arguments from Levoci included the traffic flow, parking and, because of the 24-hour operation, “people coming and going at all hours.” Lastly, Levoci suggested that the applicant “just build five houses,” rather than the proposed hotel.

Another Bridgehampton resident, Bill Thayer, offered an different opinion.

“Contrary to the other speaker, I think it is a beautiful building that will compliment the Hopping House [a dilapidated building across the street].”

“We are the gateway to the Hamptons,” said Thayer, adding that this would help improve the overall look of the hamlet.

He added that the project would be a “wonderful site” and it has an “overall aesthetic beauty,” to it.

Thayer argued that this has always been a commercial area of the hamlet.

Bridgehampton Resident Speaks in Favor of the Bulls Head Inn

 

“Is it commercial? You bet,” he said, “what is wrong with making money? This is the commercial end of Bridgehampton – always was and always has been. We are trying to beautify this section of town and make it come back to life in a way that everyone will appreciate.”

But Chairman of the Bridgehampton Citizen’s Advisory Committee (CAC), Fred Cammann, agreed with Lovoci, saying CAC members did look favorably on the proposal. 

“The CAC has always resisted commercial zoning of its current boundaries,” he said.

He continued that the new buildings would be damaging to the existing property owners, and maintained that the project would require some “down zoning” and the “community should be vigilant in preserving values, not allowing projects which would decrease values.”

Further, Cammann, argues that the construction of the four cottages on the eastern side of the property would be used as commercial structures in that they would be additional hotel rooms. He said the commercial structures “will affect the adjacent neighbors.”

“Such a change … is damaging to existing property owners of these residential properties and should not be allowed.”

“Somebody wants to take on this project that would only support the efforts across the street at the Nathanial Rogers house,” Sherry Dobbin, also a Bridgehampton resident, countered after Cammann spoke.

She said the project may seem overwhelming, but in fact it “there are only 22 rooms.”

“No one wants to live next to a parking lot, but there has been a lot of detail in the landscaping,” she added.

Planning board Chairperson, Dennis Finnerty, closed the hearing with a short 10 day written comment period, due to the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA) deadline beginning on Thursday February 12.

“There is quite a bit of correspondence,” on the matter, according to Finnerty.

 

 

Exemption Moratorium Granted for Headley Studio

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By Marissa Maier

Michael Minkoff is one step closer to purchasing Stephen Hadley’s building at 40 Madison Street in Sag Harbor. As members of the Sag Harbor Village Planning Board were rounding out their monthly meeting on Tuesday evening, Minkoff’s lawyer, Miles Anderson, lobbied for an exemption from the moratorium, approval of the site plan review and an exemption from providing a truck loading space.
Anderson began his presentation by outlining Minkoff’s intentions to renovate the space. Currently the building has four certificates of occupancy for a two-bedroom apartment, a one-bedroom apartment and two retail spaces. Minkoff plans to consolidate these spaces and create one three-bedroom apartment on the second floor and one retail store on the ground floor, which would be just under 1,500 square feet.
A previous article in The Express stated that Minkoff was the contractor owner of the building, when he is in fact the contract vendee. He is in contract to buy the property. The article also implied that Minkoff was looking to sell the space to an unnamed art gallery based in New York City, but the gallery has expressed interest in leasing the first floor space from Minkoff if he purchases the building.
Anderson also gave an overview of the parking requirements for the property under the current village zoning code and under the new zoning code.
Under the existing code, this building currently has a credit of six parking spaces for the larger retail space and one for the smaller store. One parking space credit is granted for each of the apartments making a total of nine credited parking spaces.
In the existing and the new code one parking spot credit is given for each 200 square feet of retail space in preexisting spaces. Under the new code, however, a one bedroom apartment requires 1.75 parking credits and a two bedroom apartment requires two spots. The number of retail parking spaces stays the same, but the sum total of required parking spaces for the property becomes 10.75.
If Minkoff consolidates the uses of the retail space and combines the apartments, he would need only eight parking spaces for the 1,463 square foot retail space and 2.5 spaces for the three-bedroom apartment. The total would be 10.5 — a quarter credit less than if the building remains the same.
Because Minkoff has this extra quarter credit, Anderson said parking wouldn’t be an issue. He added that Minkoff would be required under the zoning code to provide truck loading space, but said Stephen Hadley has operated his business for years without needing space for truck loading.
“With respect to truck loading space, this board has the right to waive the truck loading space if the truck loading space is unnecessary,” said Anderson.
“You are a Main Street retail space and the notion of a truck loading area isn’t entirely appropriate … We don’t ask it of other Main Street businesses,” said Anthony Tohill, a Sag Harbor Village Attorney.
At the end of the meeting, the board decided to waive the truck loading space and also granted the exemption from the moratorium. Minkoff, however, will be required to return to the planning board next month for site plan approval.

Veteran Planning Board Member Resigns

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“I have been around the world as a merchant marine,” said George Burnett on Tuesday afternoon. “I have been from England to Australia, from Hawaii to Brazil and without any reservation or hesitation I can say that Sag Harbor is the best place I have ever been in my life.”

It is that sentiment, and a desire to serve his community that brought Burnett to public service, whether in his career as a merchant marine, his work as a member and current president of the local chapter of the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) or his position on the Sag Harbor Village Planning Board for the last 13 years.

In an interview on Tuesday, Burnett announced he had made the decision to resign from the planning board due to his declining health — a decision he stressed was made this Monday, and not two weeks ago when a publication reported his return to the board was unlikely.

“I never gave anyone the authority to use my name or to make that decision for me,” said Burnett. “It was either wishful thinking or conjecture on someone else’s part.”

And for Burnett, the decision to leave the board was not one made lightly, as he expressed feelings of both honor and gratitude at having been asked to serve on the board by former Sag Harbor Mayor Pierce Hance. Burnett described his experience on the board as a pleasure, rather than a burden.

“I thank [Hance], [planning board members] Ann Hansen and Jack Tagliasacchi and [village attorney] Anthony Tohill,” said Burnett. “They taught me a lot about the machinations of the Village of Sag Harbor, its codes and its laws. It was a real pleasure to work with them.”

Burnett said his resignation will take effect on Wednesday, October 29, the day after he serves his last planning board meeting on Tuesday.

But residents in the village shouldn’t expect to count Burnett out. He plans on continuing his work with the AARP and the American Legion in Sag Harbor.

Burnett came to Sag Harbor in 1956, after retiring to Sag Harbor from New Rochelle where he was a barber. Burnett said the retirement came because his eyesight began to wane.

He worked for 11 years with the Burns Construction Company before embarking on decades of civic work, dedicating himself to a number of community organizations.

“I couldn’t work for myself anymore,” said Burnett. “And I wanted to do something for the community.”

For 17 years, Burnett served as president of the Chatfield’s Hills property owners association, and is current president of the local AARP Chapter 408, which serves the Sag Harbor, Bridgehampton, North Haven and Noyac communities. He has served as the president of the chapter for the past 15 years. Prior to that commitment he served for 10 years as the program chair.

For the past 10 years, Burnett has also been recognized as a senior officer in the American Legion, and serves on the post’s board of directors. A saxophonist for the last 40 years, Burnett is also vice president of the Suffolk County Jazz Club.

Last year, Burnett was named Suffolk County Senior Citizen of the Year. County officials noted that during his tenure with the Chatfield’s Hills association, Burnett was partly responsible for having water lines brought into the community, as well as for road improvements in the neighborhood.

Blind for the last 25 years, throughout his public service Burnett successfully fought cancer not once, but twice, all the while continuing his advocacy efforts for seniors and veterans.

“I have never given up on anything,” he said on Tuesday.

And he hopes the village does not give up on one of his dreams for the future of Sag Harbor, despite his departure from municipal service.

“I would like to say that in 52 years here there is one thing I always hoped would become a reality in Sag Harbor,” said Burnett. “Bridgehampton has a community center, so does East Hampton and Southampton. Sag Harbor has no community center set aside for the teens, for the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, for the senior citizens. I am very sorry it did not come to be in my time working with the village. One day, I hope it does become a reality and I am here to see it.”

 

Brown To Replace Toy On Sag Harbor Planning Board

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The Sag Harbor Village Planning Board has had a fair amount of heavy lifting to contend with over the course of the last two years. In that time, it has engaged in a lengthy review of the now approved condominium projects at the former Bulova Watchcase Factory and at 21 West Water Street, as well as the conversion of the controversial Havens Bar and Lounge on Bridge Street into retail and residential space, and the review of the Loeffler office building across from the Breakwater Yacht Club on Bay Street.

And as the board is about to embark on yet another prolonged review – this time of the proposed 18-unit luxury condominiums at 1, 3 and 5 Ferry Road – it has said good-bye to its former chairman, Jerome Toy. Barring a dramatic turn of events, the board will accept new member Nathan Brown at its October 16 work session.

On Tuesday, October 14, the Sag Harbor Board of Trustees is expected to appoint Brown to the planning board in a unanimous resolution, according to Sag Harbor Mayor Greg Ferraris. Brown will take Toy’s seat on the board. In August, board member Neil Slevin replaced Toy as chairman of the planning board and will continue to lead the board through its review of the Ferry Road application. (See interview on page 9).

According to Ferraris, after interviewing Brown, his appointment was inevitable.

“It really came down to what his thoughts were on the village,” said Ferraris. “Where it has stood now, where it has evolved from, and where he thought it should evolve to. We talked a lot about the process, and how he would handle hypothetical situations. In terms of being able to digest information and make educated decisions, I think he really showed he would have the village’s best interest at heart.”

Brown, who along with his wife Gloria, can be seen at virtually every meeting that takes place in Sag Harbor – from village board meetings to library board meetings and forums arranged by the Coalition of Neighborhoods for the Preservation of Sag Harbor (CONPOSH) – has been an active member of the community, noted Ferraris, a key quality the mayor was looking for in a replacement for Toy.

“He knows the process, and what the planning board is up against,” he said.

For Brown, deciding to throw his name in the hat was a simple decision.

“I live here,” he said on Tuesday. “I figure I have the time to get involved and make it better. This is my home. I can’t see living in a place and sitting in the background doing nothing.”

Brown’s background is in technology. He worked for 25 years at IBM before retiring and starting a small company for himself in New Jersey. Brown and his wife have owned their home in the Chatfield Hills neighborhood of Sag Harbor for 24 years, and are now retired there.

In addition to his service as the co-president of the Chatfield Hills Property Owners Association, Brown is also a member of Save Sag Harbor, has worked with CONPOSH, is a trustee with the Suffolk County Library Association and volunteers at the Sag Harbor Food Pantry each week.

“I know this is going to be quite a challenge,” said Brown. “But at least I know I have the time to devote to this.” 

Neil Slevin

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The Sag Harbor resident and new chairman of the planning board discusses a village in flux and the challenges facing government during times of great change.

Sag Harbor has been in the midst of a great deal of change, including a number of development projects in the heart of the village. Understanding that as a planning board chairman you view each application individually and on its own merits, what is your personal take on development in the village?

Well, I think, aside from the fact that development is an inevitability, I suppose, in general, development can be a good thing. In Sag Harbor’s case, which is different, I think what we have seen is a lot of redevelopment and redevelopment can be good when you are talking about derelict properties like the Bulova building. Development becomes a bit more of a question mark when you are talking about losing open space, for example. So I guess, the only the only thing I can say about development right now is it is clear that as a result of this incredible boom, the pressure on Sag Harbor became very intense. It will be very interesting to see whether that pressure lessens somewhat now, and I suspect it will.

That is an interesting point. With the economy where it is currently, there have been two condo projects the planning board has already approved in the Bulova Factory and at West Water Street and you are in the midst of an environmental review on a third. How many condos does one village need and should that be considered?

I think absolutely. In fact, at the scoping session for the development of Ferry Road, [Sag Harbor Inn co-owner Nathiel] Egosi mentioned something that I had actually raised to the applicant’s attorney at an earlier meeting, which is, what if this fails? What will it be like for the Village of Sag Harbor if we have a substantially larger building than has ever been there before sitting empty? And I don’t think that question is idle speculation … the Bulova building did go derelict, so I actually think this is a valid question – not just a valid question, but the key question in front of all the boards as we go through this process. What is it that we need? What is more than we need? What should we have in any place whether it be the waterfront or the heart of downtown in the business district?

The village’s revamp of its zoning code should help dictate just that. Sag Harbor is in the midst of this zoning code re-write, which you were actually a pretty big part of, working with village attorney Anthony Tohill, village planner Richard Warren, mayor Greg Ferraris and trustee Tiffany Scarlato. What was, in your mind, the most important thing that needed to be protected in the re-write of the zoning code?

I think Greg Ferraris stated it very well early on in the process. As you know, Tiffany Scarlato was the one who was really urging that the code be looked at in a comprehensive way and changed as necessary because it really has been 20 years. In the early meetings, Greg was able to articulate what, at the end of the day, we are actually trying to accomplish. It was really a very simple statement, but kind of an astounding challenge to everyone, and particularly in light of the fact that I think Greg realizes that development and redevelopment are necessary. What he said was that what we now have in Sag Harbor is a pretty nice place. People are coming out of every corner of the community, of late, and basically in their own way, and in different ways, saying this place is terrific. We want it to remain terrific. And what Greg was saying was that we need to, on one hand, maintain that wonderful ambiance we now have and, on other hand, we have to construct a code that allows for appropriate development, appropriate change. The key is, we have a gem – it’s a cliché, but it really is true. I have a friend, who lives in a really nice golf community in North Carolina. He came up two summers ago and we went to lunch at The Dockside with his wife and he turned to me and said, why would you ever think about leaving this place? And I said, I don’t … I know everyone feels that way, but we can get caught up in everything that we are doing, like starting a family, where we forget, we are pretty lucky. When I walk to the village, or walk down West Water Street, I stop and think, whoa, this is two blocks from where I live. This is pretty nice.

One issue that has come up, and you certainly are familiar with the Bulova application, is the need for affordable housing in Sag Harbor. It was an application that did have a lot of support from a number of members of the community, but there were also a number of members of the community who really wanted to see on-site affordable housing. Now that the application has been approved, how do you feel about the planning board’s decision and is there anything different you wish the board had done?

Oh no. I know it was the right decision for me, and the community. Having said that — and I tried to say this during this whole conversation about this issue — the people who highlighted the affordable housing issue did a tremendous job. They might have been accused of beating a dead horse, but they really, really did a tremendous job. I can remember attending one of the early meetings where the developer came and spoke to community groups to talk about what they wanted to do, and one person, maybe two brought up the issue of affordable housing. I can remember when they brought that issue up to the developer, thinking to myself, you have to be crazy. At that point, without having seen the numbers, I knew the cost of developing that property was going to be so high, no one would ever think about putting affordable housing in, nor did I think it was possible to force them to put it in.

What I realized throughout the next two years was, nothing happens that isn’t forced. The status quo is a hard thing to push against and you need people like those affordable housing advocates to push against things because they make you take a step back and ask, why can’t we do this? I think, largely as a result of their efforts, we now have $2.5 million in seed money for the village housing trust. I don’t know that without their efforts the community would have understood that we do have a right to say to a developer, you cannot just come in and make money off a community without the community having the opportunity to get some advantage back.

One of the biggest arguments the affordable housing advocates had was you cannot have a village of empty houses. I mean, weekenders are wonderful and a valid part of our community, but they cannot serve on the boards. And some are not even weekenders – they only come a few times a year. That is not good, it’s not healthy. And when Greg Ferraris said we want to keep the village as much like it is now, going into the future, I would say the same about the people we have here. We need regular people, because it is the regular people that will be the contributing members of the community.

How do you think village government has been handling this flux in the village?

It’s been great the way [the board of trustees] have handled things. In comparison to what we have had in the past, village government has been so much more open and competent in the face of challenges. Everyone thinks it is so easy …

Speaking of, you have served the village for some time now. Would you ever consider running for an elected position in village government?

I don’t. I am retired and I would like to be able to get away more than I have in the last two years. I would like to be away from here, as most people would, in the really cold months. The cold weather tends to keep you indoors, unless you are George Pharaoh and enjoy slogging around in cold water, which I don’t. So, I don’t think it’s in the cards; but what I have been doing is racking my brains thinking about who I can suggest to run for office or serve on one of these boards.

What do you see as future issues the village will face?

I think there is going to be an acknowledgment that the housing issue is an important issue for the simple reason that otherwise we will have an empty village – it will be hollow, there will be no one here. We will have to hope the people who decorate their lights at Christmas use timers because otherwise when I take my walks through the village during the holidays there will not be any Christmas trees or lights. And I don’t want that, nor does anyone else, including the people who aren’t here. I think what those people want to buy into and are spending all this money for, is they want a place that is like you want it to be. That is what they are paying for – the nice thing the long time members of the community have created and so we are protecting all our interests. Part of that is: how many high end condos do we need? Is that a further contribution to the community or is it an exacerbation of a problem we all recognize?

I think the zoning code that is being finally worked out now will contain some important changes that will protect the character of the downtown … Ralph Lauren, I walked by it the other day, and it’s a nice window. Hey, I like those clothes, I wear his clothes, but I can go to Vero Beach and go to Ralph Lauren. Again, it’s another cliché, but what we have here, it works and we would like to keep it.   

To face a changing landscape

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As the nation faces economic hardships with many eyes looking towards Wall Street, it remains business as usual for Sagaponack landowners, who are looking to subdivide their properties. There are five large pieces of land that face the Sagaponack planning board for considerable subdivisions of nearly 110-acres combined, which could dramatically change the landscape of the rural and still heavily agricultural village.

At the last Sagaponack Village planning board meeting, the board along with village planner, Rich Warren, and village attorney, Anthony Tohill, discussed the five properties and their application status. The properties with pending applications are 150 Gibson Lane, 511 Daniels Lane, 276 Parsonage Lane, 451 Daniels Lane and 3491 Montauk Highway.

Within the village boundaries, there is only a couple thousand feet of oceanfront property, which will remain untouched if the applications are approved. John White and his family reserved a portion of their land for an agricultural reserve, leaving 1,542 feet of oceanfront property unavailable to developers. The Peconic Land Trust has another 148 feet of waterfront property, which will remain untouched.

One of the last remaining undeveloped oceanfront properties and also the largest piece of property applying for a subdivision in the village is owned by Sagaponack Realty, LLC and is located at 451 Daniels Lane. Applicants are asking for a 4-lot subdivision on the 43.4-acres. According to Warren, the application is still pending because there are drainage issues on the southwest corner of the lot.

“The planning board issued a pre-application report based on plans that were submitted, and concerns were raised about storm water drainage from extreme storm events. A lot of farmlands drain into this property so there needs to be modifications.”

The applicant is now required to submit preliminary plans with a design concept for the drainage easement.

Adjacent to this lot is a property owned by Brenda Earl at 511 Daniels Lane, which is being represented by attorney, Mary Jane Asato of Bourke, Flanagan & Asato P.C. in Southampton. Asato has applied for the subdivision of the 18.6-acre property with two lots on the ocean while allowing for the 65 percent open space, as required by Sagaponack Village code. This application is awaiting a preliminary report from the village.

“I am working on the report right now,” Warren said on Wednesday.

Asato is also the representative for a large parcel of land owned by Parsonage Lane Properties, LLC, and is located at 276 Parsonage Lane. The pre-application submission for the property was submitted for the 19.1-acre property to be subdivided into three lots, down from the original application of four lots.

“I was going to ask the applicant to do a reduction in density from four to three lots also,” said mayor Donald Louchheim at the last planning board meeting. This property also has a 10-foot wide trail which it was decided at the meeting will be maintained. This trail connects the Long Pond Greenbelt area of Sag Harbor to the ocean in Sagaponack.

The property at 150 Gibson Lane is the furthest along in its application process. Randall Weichbrodt is a representative for the owners of the 17-plus acre lot and says the application is still under consideration with the village board. He began this project while the property was still under Southampton jurisdiction before Sagaponack became a village. This was the first application to face the village board while it was still in its infancy. Despite the fact he expressed some frustrations with the application process at the last planning board meeting, Weichbrodt said on Monday that he is okay with the slow, steady progress they are making.

“The board is doing a good job,” Weichbrodt said, “This is one of their first applications and it is moving ahead at a good pace.”

The application is to subdivide the property into six lots and will maintain Sagaponack Village’s code of 65 percent of open space. Weichbrodt said that the village’s planning board has reviewed the Environmental Assessment Form, (EAF), but found that the form was incomplete. He is now waiting for the village’s portion of the EAF to be completed.

3491 Montauk Highway or Meadowmere, which it has been called, is also applying for a subdivision. This is a 39.8- acre lot owned by the Schwenk Family, who applied for a subdivision of nine lots, but submitted plans that will allow the owners of the property to maintain a long strip of the land for farming. The property is located on the south side of the highway between Sagg Main Street, and Townline Road.

“It was changed from a larger number before,” Warren said on Wednesday, “now it’s allowing for the area to continue to be farmed.”