Tag Archive | "Sag Harbor Planning Board"

First Legal Accessory Apartment Approved by Sag Harbor

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The first accessory apartment in the residential district in Sag Harbor was approved last Tuesday night, November 24 in the inaugural session of the village’s new Accessory Apartment Review Board. The committee was appointed by village trustees to carry out an aspect of the new village code that seeks to provide affordable housing and bring longstanding illegal apartments in Sag Harbor up to code.

Allan and Jerilyn Morrel were approved for a permit for the accessory apartment by board members Neil Slevin, Gregory Ferraris and Larry Perrine – all members of the village planning board, who will annually rotate seats on the review board. The apartment, on Brandywine Drive, will encompass 650 square-feet of space that once housed an indoor pool.

“It’s kind of great to see something we implemented in the last three or four years coming to fruition, so thank you,” said Ferraris, a former mayor who recently oversaw the revision of the village code.

Ferraris said he believed the Morrels met every requirement of the new code, which allows the review board to approve 50 new accessory apartments in the village.

Accessory apartments in the residential district in Sag Harbor are allowed under the new village code as long as the apartment is in an owner-occupied building. Only one accessory apartment is allowed per home, containing only two bedrooms and a maximum of 650 square feet.

“The building inspector has the responsibility and the authority to make sure it adheres to the new code,” explained Ferraris. “The only decision we really make is whether it is suitable in the neighborhood.”

No neighbors voiced or wrote in complaints about the Morrels’ proposal.

Ferraris said he believed other individuals had approached the building department about applying for the apartments, but no applications had been filed to his knowledge. Regardless, he was pleased about the first approval.

“We looked at it both ways,” he said. “It is a way to provide affordable housing just by the size of the apartments and it could bring existing apartments into code compliance.”

Concerns Emerge as John Jermain Memorial Library Expansion Begins its Review

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John Jermain Memorial Library Director Catherine Creedon addresses the planning board at its Tuesday, November 24 meeting.

After just one work session in what is expected to be an extensive review of the proposal to renovate, restore and expand the historic John Jermain Memorial Library (JJML), the village planning board identified several potential hurdles surrounding parking, setbacks and the extension of the village sewer system to accommodate the new library space.

On Tuesday, November 24 the planning board held a work session on the library proposal, which was approved for $10 million in funding by members of its library district – defined by the Sag Harbor Union Free School District boundaries – in June. The project will repair and restore JJML, which was first constructed in 1910, and add a three-story, 7,000 square-foot addition at the rear of the historic landmark.

JJML Director Catherine Creedon opened the meeting by giving the board a quick overview of the library’s decade-long crusade for an expanded library in Sag Harbor, which culminated in June’s referendum with 84 percent of votes cast favoring the library board’s proposal.

Creedon noted that since the library board first began its quest, library membership has grown, a trend that she added began in 1987 with the introduction of computers in the library.

Creedon said with this growth, collections are overcrowded, program space is lacking and the library is unable to meet demand for its print and computer resources. In addition to increasing spaces for programming, historic preservation and for the library’s collection, the expansion enables the library to restore the historic building. It will also improve the mechanical systems including electrical and heat and air systems, which Creedon currently has to personally jump start on cold winter mornings, and bring the library into Americans with Disabilities Act compliance, make the three floors handicap accessible and bring it into line with standards for libraries in the State of New York.

Newman Architects principal Richard Munday said from a design standpoint, his firm hopes to create an addition that would not take away from the original, historic structure. He acknowledged the library is aware they will require variances from the zoning board of appeals for setbacks, as well as a variance for the height of the addition, although the addition does not exceed the height of JJML as it stands today. The addition will be made of masonry, glass and metal.

“What we attempted to do was draw the addition in as much as possible so our intrusions, beyond the setback lines and beyond the skyline, are as small as possible,” said Munday.

David Emilita, the library’s environmental consultant, outlined a brief plan to deal with traffic and parking concerns – an issue former library board president and current planning board member Greg Ferraris noted has been one of the top concerns of residents during the decade-long debate over what was the appropriate way to expand JJML.

Currently, said Emilita, the library is 56 spaces short and with the expansion will need an additional 28 spaces on top of that. Emilita said the library intended to meet with the village ZBA to address this issue. However, said Emilita, traffic studies taken in 2003 and 2009 show that two-thirds of library patrons are not just visiting the library when they drive to JJML, but are traveling to other destinations. The percentage of people who drive to the library has also dropped during that period, said Emilita, while the number of patrons who bike or walk to JJML has increased.

“So we are seeing a shift,” he said.

According to Emilita, the library would like to work with village trustees to explore introducing parking on Union Street and making that road one way, moving west towards Main Street. It would also like to explore having additional village parking spaces striped on Main Street and other adjoining streets.

Both JJML land use attorney Gil Flanagan and library board of trustees members closed the presentation by asking the board to expedite the review of the project through scheduling extra meetings for the planning board and other village boards who will review the plan.

“We are in a way a municipal project, funded through tax dollars,” said Peterson, adding the longer the review takes, the more it will cost.

Another plan proposed by the library includes abandoning their existing septic system and petitioning the village board of trustees to extend the Sag Harbor Sewer District 282-feet to enable JJML to connect with the sewage treatment plant. The Suffolk County Health Department encouraged the conversion, said Emilita.

Sag Harbor Village Environmental Planning Consultant Richard Warren said he believed a provision of the village sewer law required any property owner in the service area to hook up to the system.

“We should understand what happens with those property owners as the district gets extended,” advised Warren.

Ferraris said the cost of hooking up any residences as a result of the extension may fall on the shoulders of JJML and urged the library to approach the board of trustees on that issue as well as the issue of creating new parking spaces in the village and making Union Street a one-way street.

“Parking and traffic were the biggest issues we dealt with at the time [he was library board president],” cautioned Ferraris.

Warren also asked Creedon what kind of dialogue the library has had with the two rear adjacent property owners.

Creedon said the library has been in regular contact with the Jefferson Street neighbor, Ann Castaldo.

“I believe she still has concerns, but I also believe she feels grateful to the library for keeping her in the loop every step of the way,” said Creedon, noting plans were scaled back on that side of the expansion in deference to Castaldo.

A limited liability corporation, said Creedon, now owns the Union Street property, the principals of which she has been unable to reach despite numerous attempts.

Warren noted village engineer Paul Grosser will need to review all plans for the project, including the sanitation proposal, and the board should expect a report from him. Tammy Cumha, a representative from Grosser’s office, said the engineer already has preliminary concerns, specifically about the proposed 3.5-foot setback on a section at the rear of the property.

“[That setback] is a concern with the New York State building code and also with the fire commissioner for access and safety in order to get emergency vehicles around there if necessary,” she said.

Munday said he was aware of the problem and would explore whether the project would need a variance from the state.

The library project will continue to meet with village boards next month. It is currently scheduled on the December 10 historic preservation and architectural review board calendar, as well as at the next planning board meeting on December 22.

Ferry Road Condo Plan Changes Gears

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The Sag Harbor Village attorney had sharp words for a proposed condo project at 1, 3 and 5 Ferry Road at a Tuesday planning board work session, the night after the developers of the plan presented new architectural renderings for the 18-unit project.

On Monday night, East End Ventures, the firm proposing the luxury condo project with accessory docks on Sag Harbor’s waterfront presented new architectural rendering to the historic preservation and architectural review board.

The concept, developed by architect Katherine Fee, revolves around the industrial, row house character of historic waterfront communities as its inspiration. Fee presented the board with a cluster of five townhouses separated by streets. Fee said the canal-style streets were implemented as a design feature intended to reduce the overall mass of the proposed buildings. A parking garage is located under a green roof – a grass covered expanse – adjacent to the condo development. The parking garage is proposed to house roughly 20 vehicles, said Fee, over half the parking proposed for the site.

By and large, the ARB was impressed with the concept, although they did suggest Fee vary the height of the buildings, even if a variance was necessary to create the sense that these structures were built over time, instead of in one development. They also suggested looking at finding a way to get all of the parking underground, instead of just about half.

While ARB Chairman Cee Scott Brown called the presentation “helpful,” he added the developers should wait to come back to the board until they have reached the phase where the village boards, save the planning board, can get involved.

Which was one of the problems village attorney Anthony Tohill had with the presentation. The plan presented to the ARB on Monday night varied greatly from the plan the village’s planning board is in the midst of reviewing under the state environmental quality review (SEQR). The project under review by the planning board presents a single 43,040 square-foot building with 18 accessory dock slips and 36 above-ground parking spaces, while the design presented by Fee is vastly different with five buildings, underground parking and a green roof shown as aspects of the new design.

According to Tohill, if a plan changes drastically in the midst of this review, the whole process must start from scratch as the planning board has been evaluating the potential impacts of the original design, not this new incarnation. New designs are generally reserved for the alternatives section of an environmental review.

Another problem, according to Sag Harbor Mayor Greg Ferraris, is that while the application was originally slated for the Monday, October 27 meeting, the applicant’s attorney pulled it from the meeting agenda on October 6. Only hours before the ARB meeting on Monday was set to commence did the attorney ask it be put back on the agenda, without meeting the deadline for submission and without the village attorney or village planner being notified by the village building department.

Both were absent from the ARB meeting as a result.

“Trustee [Tiffany] Scarlato has reviewed the board policies and procedures that need to be followed,” said Ferraris on Wednesday. “This will be rectified and will not happen again moving forward.”

On Tuesday night, prior to the board’s regular meeting, Tohill discussed the situation with the planning board in a work session, stating it needs to be clear that submissions cannot be made at the “last minute,” essentially introducing “complete chaos” to a state regulated review process.

Tohill said the developer’s move to show the ARB a new design could weaken the whole process for both the applicant and the village.

“There are no excuses for it,” he said, adding if another design is shown again the environmental review may have to start from the very beginning.

The project’s attorney Dennis Downes disagreed with Tohill saying he would address the issue during the regular meeting.

“I have to comment about a problem we have been having with this application in the past but it became a bit more acute last night when architects showed up at the ARB with a set of plans this board has not seen and was not aware of,” said board chairman Neil Slevin during the regular meeting. “That, we believe, was inappropriate at best.”

Slevin then questioned a fence that has been put up at the project site by National Grid, which is using the space for staging for a brief period while it performs a nearby remediation of coal tar. Downes explained the situation regarding National Grid, and in reference to the ARB meeting, said it was impossible for the applicants to do their job without being able to discuss the project with interested agencies like the ARB.

Tohill disagreed and cut the conversation short.

In other Ferry Road news, the board adopted a list of potential impacts East End Ventures must explore in the next phase of this review. The ball is now in the developer’s court, as they must provide responses to the litany of questions the planning board has asked.

 Top photo: Architect Katherine Fee presidents the Sag Harbor ARB a new design for proposed luxury condos at 1, 3 and 5 Ferry Road Monday night.