Tag Archive | "sag harbor village board"

Village Urged To Renew Yacht Yard Lease

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Lou Grignon at the Sag Harbor Yacht Yard.

 

By Stephen J. Kotz

In an 11th hour attempt to negotiate a new lease from the village for a quarter-acre lot he uses to store boats, Lou Grignon, the owner of the Sag Harbor Yacht Yard, appeared before the Sag Harbor Village Board on Tuesday.

As he was at an earlier appearance before the Harbor Committee on Monday, Mr. Grignon was accompanied by clients who he has notified in recent weeks that he will no longer be able to store their boats over the winter months.

They, in turn, told the board that besides inconveniencing them, the village was shooting itself in the foot economically by turning its back on an important waterfront business that both contributes to the ambiance of the village and brings in plenty of cash to village restaurants and stores.

Despite their pleas, the board took no action, with Mayor Brian Gilbride pointing out that Mr. Grignon had turned down the village’s latest offer to extend his lease for another year.

Mr. Grignon, reading from a prepared statement, told the board he was not there “to discuss negotiations or numbers.”

Mr. Grignon said he did not consider it his responsibility to provide storage for every boat owner who came to him, but stressed that he had gone out of way to serve his customers.

However, the village, he said, does have the responsibility “to consider the well being of the boaters in the community.”

“The village makes a handsome profit from their slips and moorings with minimal costs. Have you considered the economic impact to the village of losing 50 to 60 boats that I store to other harbors?,” he added.

One of those clients, Sean Leary, told the board that he kept his boat at the Sag Harbor Yacht Club and relied on Mr. Grignon to store his boat. He said he could not keep it at Ship Ashore marina because he cannot pass under the bridge.

“It’s a blessing to have Lou there to haul my boat out” during storms, he said. “What use do you have in mind that would be better for this community than a boat yard facility in the Village of Sag Harbor?” he asked.

George Martin said he first came to Sag Harbor in the 1970s before retiring here. In the decades since, he said, the village had developed into a premier sailing port with popular Wednesday night races. “Look around the harbor. There must be 40 boats,” he said. “When I first came here there were maybe five.”

“We’re all here basically because of Lou’s yard,” he added. “If we don’t have Lou’s yard, we have to leave.”

“It seems Sag Harbor is turning more into a club than a village,” added Trevor Barry. “The more we lose our amenities like the dry cleaners, the more we are killing the village.”

North Haven resident Ann Sutphen said she too had a received letter informing here there would no longer be space in the yard to store her boat. She said she was considering moving her boat to Shelter Island and added that she and her husband go out to eat and shop in stores when working on their boat. “All of that is going to go somewhere else,” she said.

After listening to Mr. Grignon on Monday, the Harbor Committee said it would send a memo to the village board, urging it to renew the lease and reminding it that the Local Waterfront Revitalization Plan requires the village to support water-dependent businesses.

Dr. Tom Halton, a member of the Harbor Committee who said he was offering his personal views, told the village board the boat yard was “in concert” with the LWRP and he urged the board to not turn the property over to a “non-maritime use.”

Mr. Grignon said he was paying about $16,000 a year when his 15-year lease expired May 31. At that time, he said the village told him the property had been appraised at $20,000, so he asked for a 10-year deal with a 10-year option to renew, starting at that amount and increasing by 2.3 percent a year.

The village countered with a five-year offer, starting at $22,500 and increasing by 5 percent a year.

The village’s most recent offer was a one-year deal at $24,000, which Mr. Grignon said he rejected because it would have been retroactive to May 31 and would have essentially left him in the same position next spring.

Former Mayor Pierce Hance, who negotiated the first lease with Mr. Grignon, also urged the board to settle the deal.

“I have no grief for Lou, but I have grief for the people who are being inconvenienced,” said Mr. Hance, who urged the board to take personalities out of the dispute and sign a contract that would provide much needed revenue to the village. “Guys, make it work because you are screwing a lot of people,” he said.

But when Mr. Hance asked the mayor what his plan was for the property, Mr. Gilbride declined to answer, simply responding, “your two minutes are up.”

Wetlands Moratorium

As expected, the village board adopted a six-month moratorium on wetlands permits on Tuesday while it asks assistant village attorney Denise Schoen, environmental consultant Richard Warren and the Harbor Committee to review the village’s existing wetlands law and offer suggestions for strengthening it.  The board adopted the moratorium after a brief public hearing at which nobody spoke for or against the proposal.

Village Code Housekeeping

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The Sag Harbor Village Board on Tuesday passed four of five resolutions on its agenda that village attorney Fred W. Thiele Jr. characterized as housekeeping changes suggested by former village building inspector Tim Platt. The village board reviewed the changes in July before scheduling them for public hearings last month.

Of the resolutions only one brought comments. A proposed change to the requirements for certificates of occupancy that would require a survey no less than a year old was opposed by Jane Holden, a real estate agent, who suggested that the board allow an applicant to submit a survey that is up to 18 months old. The price of a survey could be a hardship for a senior citizen living on a limited income, she told the board.

And former Mayor Pierce Hance questioned another provision of the code change that would require a drainage plan for the retention of water from a rainstorm of 2 inches per hour. Mr. Hance pointed out that the way the amendment was worded, it unintentionally left out most proposed renovations to existing houses.

The board tabled the amendment, pending a rewrite.

Sag Harbor Village Board Recognizes Policeman’s Long Career

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Sag Harbor Village Police Sgt. Paul Fabiano will retire next month. Photo by Stephen J. Kotz.

By Stephen J. Kotz

The Sag Harbor Village Board on Tuesday wanted to take a minute to celebrate the long career of Sag Harbor Police sergeant Paul Fabiano, who is retiring next month, but first it had to wait until both he and his older brother, Chief Tom Fabiano, returned from handling calls.

On Wednesday morning, Sgt. Fabiano said both officers were called from the meeting to handle calls related to a reported manhunt in Bridgehampton, in which officers from East End departments, including Sag Harbor, converged on the Bridgehampton Turnpike and Huntington Crossway in a fruitless search for an armed suspect in a home invasion.

With the crowd thinned out, Chief Fabiano approached the podium to praise his brother, who interrupted him from the back of the meeting room, insisting there was “no relation” between the two.

“Paul takes the brunt of everything I give because he is my brother, and I’m proud to have him as a brother,” the chief said, before returning the favor. “He brought a lot of ideas to me; he just always forgot that my ideas were better.”

The chief said that Sgt. Fabiano had joined the force as a part-time officer and served as a detective before being promoted to sergeant and served a key role in training other officers as well helping establish the multi-jurisdictional emergency services arrangement with other East End departments that was pressed into service Tuesday night.

“He was always here for the village, always here for the department and always here for me,” Chief Fabiano said.

Mayor Brian Gilbride described Sgt. Fabiano as an officer “who has served the village with distinction for a good many years.”

“We really thank you and hopefully you’ll have some time to be with your family,” added Trustee Ed Deyermond.

“It was a pleasure to serve my time,” Sgt. Fabiano responded. “It was a path I chose early on. I saw what my brother did and I wanted to do it too.”

On Wednesday morning, Sgt. Fabiano said he entered the police academy in 1985 when he was 19 years old. He served as a part-time officer in Southampton Town for two years before being hired for a similar position in Sag Harbor in 1988. He became a full-time officer in 1989.

Sgt. Fabiano said after 25 years, it was time for a change, noting that a police officer “is always on call—not that you mind it” and that he had missed a number of family functions over the years, although he said it was a pleasure working this year with his daughter, Christianna, who is a traffic control officer.

After he leaves the department, Sgt. Fabiano said he would work full time in sales with Scan Security, a job, he said, that would allow him to come and go as he pleases but still serve the public.

Of his career with the village, he offered, “I’d like to think I made a difference.”

Harbor Committee Changes

In other action, the board accepted the recommendation of Mayor Gilbride and reappointed Stephen Clarke to another term on the Harbor Committee and named him chairman to replace Bruce Tait, who has been engaged in a one-sided verbal sparring match with village officials over their enforcement of the zoning code and the village’s Local Waterfront Revitalization Plan.

The board also appointed John Shaka of the organization Save Sag Harbor to replace John Christopher and named Joseph Tremblay, an owner of Bay Burger, as the committee’s alternate member.

Both Mr. Tait and Jeff Peters will remain on the committee as “holdovers,” Mr. Gilbride said.

Before leaving the meeting early, Mr. Tait urged board members to read the LWRP and be ready to refer actions that have any impact on the waterfront to the Harbor Committee for what’s called a consistency review.

On Wednesday, Mr. Tait said he did not understand the concept of a “holdover” member, and suggested that board may be on shaky ground by allowing board members whose terms have expired to continue to serve.

The board also heard from Chip Dineen, a resident of Latham street and a member of the Southampton Town Transportation Committee, who said the village has ignored a promise made more than 15 years ago to mark a number of streets with bike lanes. He cited village minutes from 2009 in which Sinead Fitzgibbon, a cyclist, told the board that Ken Dorph had outlined proposed bike routes as long ago as 1997.

“I feel adding some kind of markings on the street would bring to the attention of motorists that there are bicyclists a on the road,” said Mr. Dineen. “How are we going to proceed and not let another 20 years go by?”

Mayor Gilbride countered, telling Mr. Dineen that he often sees bicyclists ignoring the rules of the road, but Mr. Dineen said the behavior of a few should not derail an effort to make the roads safer.

Chief Fabiano also groused that he had tried to meet with bike lane proponents on a number of occasions but had been ignored.

Trustee Ken O’Donnell then stepped in and said he would meet with Mr. Dineen’s group to see if they could reach some compromise.

James FitzGerald, the high school student who has been inventorying plant and animal species at the village’s Cilli Farm preserve, gave a follow-up report, and suggested that a basic trail be established, running from Long Island Avenue on the south to West Water Street on the north, with another trail cutting west to Glover Street.

He said the preserve has a serious problem with litter but said he thought “it’s a dumping ground because it’s not in the public eye” and that more public use might, in fact, discourage dumping.

Mr. Stein added that besides dumping, a number of homeless people have lived in the preserve from time to time.

The board did not take any official action on the report.

Village Revokes Page Outdoor Dining License

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Staff members clear tables and chairs from in front of Page at 63 Main after the Sag Harbor Village Board revoked the restaurant's outdoor dining license on Friday. Photo by Stephen J. Kotz.

Staff members clear tables and chairs from in front of Page at 63 Main after the Sag Harbor Village Board revoked the restaurant’s outdoor dining license on Friday. Photo by Stephen J. Kotz.

By Stephen J. Kotz

After a month of behind-the-scenes wrangling over unapproved renovations made at Page at 63 Main, the Sag Harbor Village Board pounced on Friday, July 18, revoking the restaurant’s license for outdoor dining on Main Street.

The village took the action even after one of the restaurant’s attorneys, Dennis Downes said losing the option to offer outdoor dining would cost the restaurant between $7,500 and $10,000 a day and even jeopardize its ability to stay in business.

In an 11th hour bid to appease the village, Mr. Downes said Page’s owners had offered to immediately shut down their Back Page café, behind the main restaurant, until zoning and fire code violations there were rectified and a site-plan issued for the property.

Mr. Downes conceded that mistakes had been made, but said the restaurant had been held up during the planning process and had to do the work before approvals were in hand to be ready for the summer season.

“Without those seats, there is a lot of money being lost,” he said of the outdoor dining. “It could be the difference between being able to stay alive in the winter where there are less people out here.”

But the board would not be swayed. “We’re here talking because when there was a suspension… the right thing would have been to remove the tables and chairs and let’s get to the bottom of this,” Mayor Brian Gilbride said.

He referred to an action taken by building inspector Tim Platt, who had cited the business for doing the renovation work with neither a site plan approval nor a building permit and had ordered it to suspend its outdoor dining service until the charges were sorted out. Instead, he said, the restaurant’s owners “thumbed their nose” at the village.

The board’s action clearly got the restaurant owners’ attention. A few minutes after it revoked the license, and Page’s owners and managers left the Municipal Building grumbling among themselves, waiters and busboys were scurrying about, clearing the tables and chairs from in front of the restaurant before the evening’s dinner rush.

On Tuesday, Mr. Downes, and Tom Horn, another attorney for the restaurant, were in Sag Harbor Village Justice Court for an initial appearance on the restaurant’s behalf. Village Justice Andrea Schiavoni said she would have to recuse herself from hearing the case because of a relationship with one of the restaurant’s owners and adjourned the case until August.

Speaking outside the courtroom, Mr. Horn, who said he had only had time to quickly review the charges against the restaurant, nonetheless expressed confidence it would prevail in court. “I think the charges are technically flawed and actually flawed,” Mr. Horn said, “and I say that based on my 11 years’ experience as a fire marshal.” Before becoming an attorney, Mr. Horn was a fire marshal for East Hampton Town.

The restaurant’s saga took another turn on Tuesday night when Mr. Downes, and Gerard Wawryk, one of its owners, appeared before the Planning Board, trying to straighten out the confusion over the restaurant’s renovation project, which was undertaken this spring.

The key issues revolved around changes to the proposed site plan for the dining area now known as the Back Page Café. At a June 26 village board meeting, then-planning board chairman Neil Slevin said the restaurant had done work that planners had not intended.

That included moving without permission the location of an enclosure that would allow it to keep its dumpsters refrigerated as well as the replacement of a grass waiting area with a bluestone patio.

One of the village’s attorneys, Denise Schoen, said that the wooden Dumpster building, which had been placed next to a fence beside Murph’s Backstreet Tavern and connected to the electric service, posed a fire hazard, a charge the restaurant’s owners denied.

Ms. Schoen added that the Back Page had originally been presented as a waiting area, where restaurant patrons could enjoy a drink or hors d’oeuvres while waiting for a table inside, but had, in fact, been turned into an outdoor expansion of the restaurant.

Mr. Downes has said the planning board approved the changes when it accepted a new survey of the site last winter, but board members said it was an oversight.

Despite the disagreement, planning board members were amenable to tweaking the site plan for the Back Page and said they would okay the bluestone patio even though it would exceed the allowable lot coverage because it was served by sufficient drainage.

But planners said they would not allow the dumpster enclosure to remain in its current location because it effectively eliminated the restaurant’s driveway and prevented delivery trucks from backing in off the street, forcing them to instead block one lane of traffic on Division Street.

On Tuesday, Mr. Wawryk offered to remove the dumpster building and replace it with two smaller enclosures that would be set back on either side of the driveway farther from Division Street to provide space for delivery trucks.

Planners said they would send a memo supporting the changes to the village Zoning Board of Appeals, which has held off on a decision on the restaurant’s application for variances, pending a resolution of the site plan issues.

At last week’s special meeting, when the board informed Page’s owners that it was considering revoking the restaurant’s outdoor dining privilege, Mr. Downes tried at first to argue that it was “a was “a valuable property right” that the village could not revoke without “due process.”

Village attorney Fred W. Thiele Jr. called those charges “ludicrous,” adding that the village only charged $100 for a license and said if outdoor seats were as valuable as Mr. Downes said they were, the village should be charging more. “It’s a privilege to use public property for a private use,” Mr. Thiele said.

Sag Harbor Wants To Revoke Page’s Outdoor Dining License

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By Stephen J. Kotz

The Sag Harbor Village Board will hold a special meeting at 3 p.m. on Friday, July 18, to discuss revoking the outdoor dining license it issued to the restaurant Page at 63 Main Street because of a number of alleged fire code and zoning code violations at the establishment.

“That license has been suspended by the building inspector,” said Mayor Brian Gilbride, “and he has thumbed his nose at the village and continued to serve alcohol and food outside, which is a violation,” referring to Gerard Wawryk, one of the business’s owners.

“They have been written up on multiple charges of fire code violations,” said assistant village attorney Denise Schoen.

Village attorney Fred. W. Thiele Jr. said if the restaurant did not answer the charges in a timely fashion in village Justice Court, the village could seek a restraining order against the business in state Supreme Court.

“In my experience as a town attorney and village attorney health or safety violations are more likely to get relief” than simple code violations, he said.

Mr. Wawryk was not available for comment on Wednesday.

Ms. Schoen said a Dumpster that is enclosed in a refrigerated wooden structure and abuts a fence next to Murph’s Tavern on Division Street is a fire hazard.

In addition, she said the restaurant had undertaken improvements to the rear of its property to open up the Back Page café without obtaining a building permit.

She also said that the original idea for the Back Page was to provide a “waiting area” with tables and some food service for restaurant patrons waiting to be served. But the outdoor dining area that has been constructed “is not the intended use” that the Planning Board approved.

On Tuesday night, even as a notice announcing the village action against his restaurant was posted on the front door of the Municipal Building, Mr. Wawryk sat in the audience, waiting for the village Zoning Board of Appeals to make a decision on Page’s application to obtain a variance for the placement of the Dumpster.

But after hearing that the Planning Board had not intended for it to be placed in that location, the ZBA took the unusual step of reopening its hearing on the matter and would ask the planning board for its opinion.

Sag Harbor to Weigh Moratorium

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By Stephen J. Kotz

The Sag Harbor Village Board will be asked to consider a moratorium on most developments requiring setback relief from wetlands, pending a revision of its wetlands law.

Denise Schoen, the assistant village attorney who represents the village’s Harbor Committee and other regulatory boards, requested that a moratorium be considered when the village board held a work session on Thursday, July 10, to consider a series of revisions to its zoning code while building inspector Tim Platt, who left his position this week, was still with the village.

Village attorney Fred W. Thiele Jr. said this week he would present a draft of a possible moratorium to the village board at its August 12 meeting.

“There have been issues cropping up more and more frequently,” said Mayor Brian Gilbride, “and we probably need to put on the brakes.”

“I think the changes are gong to be pretty comprehensive,” said Ms. Schoen. “Instead of reviewing the applications, we should be going through the wetlands code to see how we need to rewrite it.”

Richard Warren, the village’s planning consultant, said about a dozen applications  requiring relief from wetlands law setbacks are currently in the pipeline and would have to be put on hold during a moratorium.

The idea for the moratorium was first suggested by Harbor Committee chairman Bruce Tait in June. In a soliloquy before that board began its regular meeting last month, Mr. Tait expressed frustration that his committee was often being asked to weigh in on applications that had already received variances from the village Zoning Board of Appeals, rendering his committee’s input moot.

He also criticized the village for failing to enforce Harbor Committee decisions and said applicants have on occasion ignored the committee’s conditions for approvals.

At that time, Ms. Schoen said there were so many problems with the wetlands law as written that the village might be better off scraping the current law and writing a new one. A key goal, she said, would be to clearly define which applications should go before the Harbor Committee first and which ones should go before the Zoning Board of Appeals.

Besides confusion over where applications should go first, Ms. Schoen said there was a major problem with a provision allowing the Harbor Committee to reduce its own setback requirements “on lots that are so undersized that the applicant can’t possibly build without having that relief.”

The problem, she added, is that provision has “been interpreted by applicants and their attorneys that they automatically qualify for that relief. That’s not true. It’s a decision the Harbor Committee has to make.”

Mr. Warren recommended that the village simply remove the language describing undersized lots. “Right now the burden is on the Harbor Committee,” he said.

“Applications are coming in bigger and bigger,” he said. They want more and more swimming pools 20 feet from the bluff and on 10,000- square-foot lots 6,700-square-foot houses.”

The board also discussed changing the formula for determining how many parking spaces are required for restaurants from one space per three seats to one space per four spaces.

Although Mr. Platt said he thought the change would trigger requests from more restaurants for an increase in seats, others said the change would only bring restaurants into closer conformity with the state fire code—and besides, there are no parking spots anyway.

“You can put in 3,00 more seats and you aren’t going to get any more cars,” said Trustee Robby Stein. “It’s almost self-regulating.”

Trustee Ken O’Donnell, the owner LaSuperica restaurant, agreed. “I can put 200 more seats in, but if have a weekend like this when long Wharf is going to be covered with a tent, my backroom is going to be light.”

“I don’t know what to do with parking variances, I don’t know what to tell the board,” said Ms. Schoen. “I don’t know how we are supposed to enforce them. There are no parking spots so the analysis, legally, doesn’t work.”

Mayor Gilbride said he was concerned that if a restaurant were overcrowded, “and some bad event happens then people are going to be reaching out to find out who is liable.”

But Mr. Platt said if someone violates the fire code “the judge is going to take that much more seriously” than if they simply get slapped with a zoning code violation.

Harbor Committee Up in Air at Sag Harbor Reorganizational Meeting

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Trustees Robby Stein and Sandra Schroeder are sworn in by Sag Harbor Village Clerk Beth Kamper on Monday. Photo by Stephen J. Kotz.

By Stephen J. Kotz

It was a bit reminiscent of the “Who’s on First?” skit when the Sag Harbor Village Board of Trustees held is annual reorganizational meeting on Monday.

The normally routine matter of appointing members to various regulatory boards left village board members, members of the boards themselves and the public confused.

The trouble started when the board discussed appointments to the Harbor Committee. A resolution on the agenda listed current member Stephen Clarke Jr., Bay Burger restaurant owner Joseph Tremblay and John Shaka of Save Sag Harbor as potential appointees to the committee, which oversees the approval of wetlands permits and compliance with the village’s Local Waterfront Revitalization Plan (LWRP).

When Mayor Brian Gilbride said that the term of the committee’s chairman, Bruce Tait, had expired, fellow board members asked whether he meant his term as chairman or his term on the board.

Mr. Gilbride did not have the answer to that and neither did Village Clerk Beth Kamper, who said she would have to check the village records to find out.

Mr. Gilbride also questioned whether Dr. Tom Halton and Mr. Clarke should be replaced, noting that they had missed a number of meetings, although Dr. Halton’s term has not expired.

In the end, the board took no action, promising to revisit the appointments at an upcoming work session, perhaps as early as this Thursday morning, July 10.

On Monday afternoon, Mr. Gilbride said he was trying to give Harbor Committee members a wakeup call that they should be more vigilant about attending meetings and be better prepared to exercise their duties of enforcing the village’s LWRP.

It lit a fuse under Mr. Tait. “They don’t like me because I was an opponent of the mayor,” he said on Tuesday, referring to the last mayoral race. “Fine, I get that. I have thick skin.”

“My term as chairman is one year, they can appoint whoever they want,” he continued, “but I’m appointed to a five-year term, and it began when I signed my name in the big book when I took my oath of office.”

Mr. Tait said it was his understanding that he still had two years remaining on his term. “You can’t remove me for those two years without due process,” he said.

At a Harbor Committee meeting last month, a visibly frustrated Mr. Tait said the committee was being bogged down by development applications and could not devote the time he would like to devote to policy issues. Plus, he added, when the committee gave approvals, the village did not enforce the code to make sure the restrictions it imposed were being adhered to.

“If they do appoint a new chairman, I may or may not resign from the board,” Mr. Tait said, adding that he would like to continue to serve the village because “I have things I want to accomplish that I have not been able to get done.”

At Mayor Gilbride’s request, the board appointed newly elected Trustee Sandra Schroeder to replace Trustee Robby Stein as deputy mayor.

“It is certainly not anything against Robby,” the mayor said afterward. “He did a great job although sometimes we saw things differently.”

The appointment of Ms. Schroeder, who also opposed the mayor in the previous election should not be taken for any more that “she’s a long-time village employee started out in clerk’s office, became clerk, became administrator and who knows how things are run,” said Mayor Gilbride.

The board also appointed Gregory Ferraris as chairman of the Planning Board after Neil Slevin, the current chairman, resigned, citing personal reasons, the mayor said. Mr. Slevin, though, was appointed as alternate member to the Zoning Board of Appeals, whose chairman, Anton Hagen, was also reappointed.

“Neil’s personal life has commanded him to allocate his time differently,” the mayor said. “He wants to stay involved without sacrificing other things.”

The board named James Larocca to the Planning Board and reappointed Larry Perrine.

The board also reappointed Cee Scott Brown as chairman of the Board of Historic Preservation and Architectural Review. His appointment was called into question by Mr. Stein who said he had been approached by several people who were concerned that Mr. Brown is a Corcoran real estate agent and represents the Watchcase condominium project.

“I don’t have any question about Cee’s professionalism,” Mr. Stein said.

“I’ve been told he’s very professional, he’s very knowledgeable, and he is fair,” said Ms. Schroeder.

Christine Patrick and Penni Ludwig were reappointed to the ARB and John Connor was named its alternate member.

Sag Harbor Traffic Calming at Standstill

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An aerial map of Sag Harbor Village highlights key intersections being explored for improvement under a traffic calming initiative spearheaded by Serve Sag Harbor. Photo courtesy of Serve Sag Harbor

By Stephen J. Kotz

Plans for a series of traffic calming measures in Sag Harbor Village remained stalled, with the Village Board on Tuesday, again declining to give the green light for a pilot project proposed by two civic organizations, Save Sag Harbor and Serve Sag Harbor.

“We’re not going to do any of that without a professional telling the village it’s a good or it’s a bad thing,” Mayor Brian Gilbride said of plans to use large planters as part of the traffic calming designs at various intersections in the village. “Personally, I don’t think it’s a good thing.”

That appeared to signal a reversal from May when the mayor told traffic calming proponents that they could begin fundraising efforts to pay for the pilot program—a move they interpreted as tantamount to an informal approval. When the board met earlier this month, fire and ambulance volunteers expressed concern that efforts to slow down traffic would make it difficult for emergency vehicles to respond to calls.

Mr. Gilbride said he wanted to wait until Dunn Engineering, which the village solicited for the work just this week, has an opportunity to weigh in on the appropriateness of the designs.

“At this point, I’m going to be cautious and protect the village,” said Mr. Gilbride. “Ninety percent of the people who grab me are not in favor of putting flower pots in the road, I can tell you that.”

The mayor’s apparent change of heart spurred Susan Mead of Serve Sag Harbor, the group that plans to pay for the project, to urge the board to move swiftly so it could have at least a bare bones pilot program in place for the height of the summer season.

Trustee Robby Stein said that while it was important to iron out any concerns over liability if a driver were to hit one of the planters, he said the village should move forward.

“I like the fact that this is a volunteer organization that wants to partner with the village,” he said. “There are lots of intersections in the village that could use work. Without belaboring this, I’d like to see if we could go forward with this in some way.”

“If it doesn’t work, fine,” he added. “If it does work, it’s still not permanent and then there is another discussion.”

“They couldn’t start painting while we wait for an engineer?” asked Trustee Ken O’Donnell, who has also expressed his interest in getting some kind of traffic calming program up and running this summer.

The problem with that, Ms. Mead said, is “people do not pay attention and stay within painted or colored lines.”

Trustee Ed Deyermond also expressed reservations about planters being placed in roads. “If you put a flower pot in the middle of the road, in the middle of the straightaway, that’s where you are going to have trouble,” he said.

But Mr. Deyermond said he liked revisions made to the installation proposed for the intersection of Oakland and Jermain avenues. The original plan would have directed vehicles away from the center of the street and to toward the curb, but it has been revised to keep vehicles in the center of the road and provide more space at curbside for pedestrians.

Ms. Mead assured the board that adjustments could be made on the fly but encouraged it to take action quickly.

“If we sit around and talk about this and we have an accident, we are all going to be sorry,” she said.

Mr. Gilbride cited a letter that he had received last month from a village resident bemoaning changes to a historical whaling village.

“A Range Rover traveling down the road at 45 mph—that doesn’t happen in a whaling village, either,” said Jonas Hagen, an urban planner who has worked on the traffic calming project.

“I don’t want to be a downer,” he said, “but something happened recently in Water Mill, and this is exactly the kind of thing we are trying to prevent from happening.” He was referring to the death of a 6-year-old girl who was struck and killed by a car while crossing a street in the hamlet.

Page at 63 Main

The board also met with chairmen of its regulatory boards to ostensibly discuss ways that communication could be improved to prevent one board from approving an application that runs counter to the wishes of another, but it soon turned into a discussion of changes at Page at 63 Main Street.

“My sense is the system is being gamed,” said Neil Slevin, the chairman of the planning board chairman. “Very often what is happening in these application is people are playing games. They throw up all sorts of smoke…. The objective is to make it difficult for people making decisions to see the big picture.”

Speaking of Page, Mr. Slevin pointed to the development of the site to include “The Back Page,” which is advertised as a café, on the Division Street side of the property. The planning board, he said, had not intended for the restaurant’s owners to move a Dumpster from a conforming location and install a stone patio, in an area that was shown on the original surveys accompanying the application as grass.

Those changes, he said, have expanded the restaurant’s serving area and eliminated a driveway, where delivery trucks could park. “If you look at it as it exists right now, I would say that it is clearly larger and more intense than the original application that came before the planning board,” he said.

The modification of the plan slipped through, he said, because board members were focusing on a proposal to convert the second floor of the restaurant building to an aquaponics operation.

Last week, the village Zoning Board of Appeals agreed to grant variances allowing the Dumpster to be moved. “It seemed like a simple variance application,” said ZBA chairman Anton Hagen, who said he was unaware of the Planning Board’s concerns. “I didn’t get  clear signal that there was any subterfuge,” he said.

Denise Schoen, the village attorney for the planning and zoning boards, said that the restaurant went ahead with its construction project  without a building permit and the village was prosecuting it in justice court.

On Wednesday, Gerard Wawryk, one of the restaurant’s owners, said the restaurant did not play it fast and loose. “We even got a copy of the approved survey that came in the mail” after the planning board reviewed the case, he said.

He admitted, though, that work was done without a building permit. “It took 14, 15 weeks to get a building permit,” he said. “What was I supposed to do, wait another year? If that’s how the village wants to operate, I haven’t got time for that.”

Update: Stein and Schroeder Sweep to Victory in Sag Harbor

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Robby Stein and Sandra Schroeder congratulate one another after being elected to the Sag Harbor Village Board of Trustees on Tuesday night. Michael Heller photo

 

 

By Stephen J. Kotz

Incumbent Robby Stein was the top vote getter on Tuesday to win reelection to the Sag Harbor Village Board of Trustees with a total of 308 votes.

Sandra Schroeder, a former village administrator who last year challenged Brian Gilbride for mayor, came in second place with 270 votes.

John Shaka, a member of the group Save Sag Harbor, who has become a familiar sight at the Municipal Building, where he has been an advocate for a traffic calming project, missed out on a seat, receiving a total of 219 votes. Former Trustee Bruce Stafford received 124 votes.

In North Haven, Mayor Jeff Sander, incumbent Trustees Dianne Skilbred and James Davis, and first-time candidate Tommy John Schiavoni, who all ran unopposed, were reelected.

“I’m just so thrilled,” Ms. Schroeder said on Wednesday morning about her election. “I’m really a happy camper about that today.”

The newly elected trustee said she looked forward to getting to work, and said she did not expect to have any problems working with her fellow board members.

“I can work with anyone,” she said, adding that people run for office because they have a sincere desire to make the village a better place to live. “It’s not a personal thing, it’s issues,” she said. “You don’t have to agree on everything to get along.”

Mr. Stein said he was pleased to be the top vote-getter. “I feel I can continue the work I’ve started,” he said. “I look forward to working with Sandra on the board.”

“I’m really proud of the campaign we ran,” said Mr. Shaka. “We ran on the issues and got the news out.”

Although he said he was disappointed that he failed to win, Mr. Shaka said, “The good news is that Sag Harbor has two really good people going in who will take care of the business of the village.”

It took about an hour for the results to be announced as election workers first cross-checked 43 absentee ballots against voter registration rolls and counted them individually before announcing the results from voting machines.

A crowd of about 40 people who had gathered at the Sag Harbor Firehouse on Brick Kiln Road waited quietly for the results.

“I had a wonderful life last week and I will again next week,” said Ms. Schroeder as she waited. “I’m really hoping to be elected, but if not, I’m not going away.”

When it became clear she would be one of two winners, a small group of supporters who had gathered around her cheered. Mr. Shaka, a first-time candidate for village office, offered his congratulations to the winners. Mr. Stafford left shortly after the results were announced, offering a “night, night” to those nearby.

A total of 511 votes were cast. Four write-in votes were cast, with two for Scott Smith and one each for Mary Anne Miller and Margaret Bromberg.

North Haven Village Clerk Georgia Welch said a total of 97 ballots were cast, 92 by machine and five absentee ballots.

Mr. Schiavoni received 89 votes; Mr. Sander, 88 votes; Ms. Skilbred, 87 votes; and Mr. Davis, 86 votes.

Ms. Welch, who said North Haven had about 700 registered voters, described turnout as good for an uncontested election.

“It is nice to be officially elected,” said Mayor Jeff Sander who completed the unfinished term of Laura Nolan. “I hope the fact that no one opposed us is indicative of how people think we are doing.”

Mr. Sander said he looked forward to working with Mr. Schiavoni and added that he would miss Trustee George Butts who did not seek another term.

 

 

More information on the Sag Harbor candidates can be found by clicking here.

For more information on the candidates in North Haven, click here.

Turnout for Traffic Calming and Dog Park

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An overflow crowd filled the Sag Harbor Village Board’s meeting room Tuesday night to support traffic calming and a dog  park. Photo by Stephen J. Kotz

By Stephen J. Kotz

An army of residents of Sag Harbor and the surrounding area crammed into the Sag Harbor Village Board’s meeting room Tuesday night, spilling out into the hallway and sitting on the floor.

They were there to lobby the board to approve a traffic calming pilot project promoted by the organizations Save Sag Harbor and Serve Sag Harbor and to show support for a Bay Point woman’s request for the village to set aside a portion of Havens Beach as a dog park.

Traffic calming proponents, who were hopeful that they would finally be given the green light to launch their pilot program, left deflated, as the board tabled the matter yet again. While dog park supporters were buoyed by the board’s agreement to form a committee to further study the request.

“Can I at least tell the people who have donated their time that we’ll be on the agenda next month?” asked Susan Mead of Serve Sag Harbor, who has spearheaded efforts to fund the traffic-calming project.

Board members promised that they would pick up the discussion either at their July meeting or at a work session later this month.

“I support the concept, but I have a lot of issues,” said Trustee Ed Deyermond. “I’m not prepared to vote on this.”

Trustee Ken O’Donnell said he also wanted to move forward, as soon as possible. “Let’s pick an intersection and get it right,” he said.

He also complained that he had not been given adequate time before Tuesday’s meeting to review the proposed sites and lashed out at Mayor Brian Gilbride over the lack of communication.

“I gotta look at Facebook. It’s the only way the board finds out about traffic calming tonight is to look on Facebook,” he said.

Trustee Robby Stein also pledged support for the pilot program. “We’re in agreement that something has to be done,” he said, adding that he wanted to make sure that concerns of emergency services representatives were also met.

Mayor Gilbride, who has in the past encouraged the traffic calming supporters, waffled a bit on Tuesday. “Being born and raised here, I’m not seeing the need for it, he said, adding, nonetheless, that Save Sag Harbor and Serve Sag Harbor had done a good job and he would support a pilot program.

“Traffic calming happens in Sag Harbor every summer,” the mayor later quipped, “because you can’t go that fast.”

Earlier in the meeting, a steady stream of visitors stepped up to the podium, most of whom were strongly in favor of the traffic calming measures.

Among the supporters were Neil Slevin, the planning board chairman, and Anton Hagen, the chairman of the zoning board.

“I’ve lived on Main Street for 34 years. Traffic and speed have always been an issue,” Mr. Hagen said.

“Main Street has gotten so much busier than when I moved in 28 years,” said Mr. Slevin. “I’m asking you as a neighbor and as a leader of this community. I’m asking you to give it a chance.”

Bob Plum, another Main Street resident, also called for the board to support traffic calming. “I think in the big picture this is a great opportunity to establish a precedent,” he said. “Robert Moses can roll over in his grave.”

Drivers speed down Main Street “as they try to catch the light” at the intersection with Jermain Avenue and Brick Kiln Road, said Mary Anne Miller. “No one ever abides by the speed limit. I believe it will do a great amount of good for the village.”

April Gornick of North Haven was one of several people from outside the village who supported the traffic calming effort. “We’re trying to make this as flexible as possible,” she said. “I think the benefit would be enormous.” She added she hoped that Jermain Avenue and Madison Street could be targeted because the intersection is so close to the school.

“Change has come. Whether we like it or not, we’re all under siege by cars,” said Eric Cohen of Collingswood Drive, just south of the village.

“Until we try something we don’t know if it will work,” he added. “Try this. If it doesn’t work, try something else.”

Jane Young, a resident of Northside Drive in Noyac, said, “I think traffic is getting crazier and crazier out here by the year I hope you will give the pilot program a chance.”

But not everyone was in favor of the program. Rue Matthiessen, a Main Street resident, said while supported “efforts to control traffic,” she opposed the changes proposed for Glover and Main streets that she said would reduce the width of the road. “There have been attempts to explain to us that putting obstructions in the road will not narrow the road, but we fail to see how this is possible,” she said.

Ann Marie Bloedorn, a Hampton Road resident, said putting planters in the road would make it too hard for fire trucks to maneuver.

Sag Harbor Fire Chief Jim Frazier agreed. “It was stated earlier that or trucks didn’t have difficulty negotiating some of those circles. That’s not the case,” he said.

And Ed Downes of the Sag Harbor Volunteer Ambulance Corps said that when traffic lanes are narrowed to slow traffic, it also slows emergency responders. “It makes it more difficult for us to get to the ambulance or get to the person in trouble,” he said.

Dog Park

Tina Pignatelli of Bay Point, whose dog Huckleberry was struck and killed at Havens Beach a month ago, appeared with a phalanx of supporters to devote a portion of the field on the southeast side of Havens Beach as a dog park.

“I want to make this park safe for dogs, so what happened to Huck never happens again,” she said.

Ms. Pignatelli said she wanted the park to be a place for people and pets to enjoy and repeated her vow to find private funding to landscape an area for the project.

Ms. Pignatelli’s father, North Haven Mayor Jeff Sander also spoke. “The loss of Huck was devastating to her and our family,” he said.

A steady procession of speakers also supported the proposal, for which the landscape architect Jack deLashmet has agreed to provide plans.

“I support something like this being done down there,” said Mr. Deyermond looking over a rough sketch of the proposal. “I’m afraid that this takes up most of what’s there.” He asked if the plan could be scaled back.

Mr. Stein also said he would support the plan, but would like to make sure it is landscaped with plants that would prevent erosion and runoff into a dreen that drains into the harbor.

“I tell you, I never thought that was a spot for a dog park,” said Mayor Gilbride before addressing Mr. Sander. “You sure you don’t have an property over there, Jeff?”

Despite the joking tone, Mr. Gilbride promised to set up a committee to work with Ms. Pignatelli to come up with more formal plans.