By Stephen J. Kotz
Plans for a major addition to a house on High Street hit a stumbling block when members of the Sag Harbor Board of Historic Preservation and Architectural Review took their first look at them on Monday, November 24.
Sag Harbor architect Esra Unaldi presented plans for the addition to a house owned by Tanya Mallot at 25 High Street, for which a number of variances were granted by the village Zoning Board of Appeals just a month ago.
But when ARB members looked at the plans, they raised concerns about the size and massing of the addition.
“It seems kind of huge to me,” said board member Bethany Deyermond after looking over the plans. “It looks very sprawling and big,” added board member Penni Ludwig.
Board chairman Cee Scott Brown told Ms. Unaldi the ARB is always concerned about how a house appears from the street and pointed out this one had “three front yards”: High Street, Mulford Lane behind it, and the side that faces the access to a War of 1812 monument next door.
“It’s fine to make an addition,” he said, “as long as the addition is not eating the house.”
Board member John Conner said the plans could be helped by tweaking the design to break up the massing along the northeast side of the house, which overlooks the cleared lot with the war monument. While Mr. Brown suggested the two-story addition, planned behind the main portion of the house, could be reduced in height to limit its impact.
Bob Weinstein, a Suffolk Street resident, joined the discussion and suggested that “story poles” could be erected. Story poles are poles that show the proposed height of an addition and can be joined by tape or line to show the effects of massing. Mr. Weinstein also wanted to know how big the addition was compared to the original house.
Ms. Unaldi, who seemed at a loss for how to proceed, said the highest point of the addition was only 26.5-feet, well below the maximum in the village. The original house was about 1,200 square feet and the addition would add about 900 square feet to it, she said. She questioned whether her client would be required to return to the ZBA for additional variance.
She asked if the board thought the house had “historic meaning,” but Ms. Ludwig replied “it’s more the way it plays with the houses around it, the vibe. This doesn’t feel like Sag Harbor, in the historic district.”
“We’re not opposed to expanding this house,” added Mr. Brown, “but I think you are getting some feedback.”
“We’re taking our jobs serious and this isn’t working for us,” he said. “If this were not in the historic district, we’d be having a different discussion.”
“If it had one front yard, we’d be having a different discussion,” added Mr. Conner.
The board had nothing but praise for an extensive renovation being conducted by Anke Beck-Friedrich at 20 Union Street. Earlier this fall, architect Monika Zasada, the project manager for the job, came before the ARB to warn it that much of the house was in dire condition and would have to be restored down to the framing.
On Monday, she reported the “the house has been completely stabilized, so there are no more sleepless nights for me.”
Nonetheless, she and Dean Gomolka, a landscape architect, did ask for some changes to the approval they already had in place.
First, they wanted to rebuild a 20-by-20-foot garage behind the house, which will be used to house pool equipment on the house side and vehicles on the Jefferson Street side of the lot.
“I don’t know what to call because there are trees growing through it,” Ms. Zasada said of the garage.
The board said it had no problem with that change, and also approved Mr. Gomolka’s request to change the entrance to the house. Currently, the house, which is significantly above the street grade, has10 steps leading up to the front porch. The new plan is to have three steps to the porch, and a walkway that runs parallel to the house before descending and turning to the street at the side of the house.