Tag Archive | "sag harbor village board"

Sag Harbor Terminates Building Inspector

Tags: , ,


Sag Municipal Building

By Stephen J. Kotz

The Sag Harbor Village Board in a split vote on Wednesday voted to terminate the employment of building inspector Jose Escalante.

Mayor Brian Gilbride and Trustees Ed Deyermond and Ken O’Donnell voted to end his probationary employment, while Trustees Sandra Schroeder and Robby Stein abstained.

The village hired Mr. Escalante last summer to replace Tim Platt, who resigned. But in late October, it hired East Hampton Town’s acting chief building inspector, Tom Preiato, as senior building inspector to serve as Mr. Escalante’s supervisor.

At the time, village officials were quick to say they had no problems with Mr. Escalante’s job performance, but they suggested that his lack of experience and an ongoing building boom in the village necessitated the need for a more experienced hand at the helm.

Mr. Escalante said on Wednesday afternoon that Mayor Brian Gilbride called him in for a meeting and asked for his resignation. “I said, ‘I’m not resigning,’” Mr. Escalante said. “And he said, “Alright, you’re fired.’” The mayor denied that version of events.

“I offered him the chance to resign,” said Mr. Gilbride, adding that the village board had already “voted to terminate his probation. That’s about all I’m going to say about it.”

Mr.  Escalante said that the mayor told him it was largely a budgetary matter, but he said with a month to go in the year, building permit revenue, at about $268,000 is already well above last year when the village took in $206,000.

“When Tom came in I embraced him, I brought him up to date,” said Mr. Escalante. “There’s no reason why the two of us couldn’t work together.”

Ms. Schroeder, one of the trustees who abstained, said she was opposed to terminating Mr. Escalante, whose probationary period would have ended later this month.

“I thought he was doing a good job,” she said. “He brought his heart into it.”

She said she thought the village could have compromised and perhaps split Mr. Escalante’s time as building inspector and code enforcement.

“There’s a phenomenal amount of building going on in Sag Harbor,” she said. “It makes you wonder if Jose could be filling in helping the building inspector and doing something else at the same time.”

“We appreciated his effort on behalf of the village and wish him the best of luck, but due to the financial constraints of the current budget the village couldn’t afford to keep two building inspectors,” said Mr. O’Donnell.

Mr. Deyermond declined to comment, and Mr. Stein could not be reached.

Sag Harbor Village Schedules Hearing on Plastic Bag Ban

Tags:


 

Sag Municipal Building

By Stephen J. Kotz

A regional effort to eliminate most plastic shopping bags picked up steam locally when the Sag Harbor Village Board this week scheduled a public hearing on the measure for its December 9 meeting.

Southampton Village and East Hampton Village have already adopted bag bans, and officials in other East End municipalities, including East Hampton and Southampton towns and Sagaponack and North Haven villages, have all agreed to consider a ban, with the goal of having local laws ready for implementation by Earth Day—April 22, 2015.

The ban would target the types of plastic bags that are commonly used in grocery stores and othe retail stores. Bags larger than 28 by 36 inches would be exempt from the ban, as would the thin, clear plastic bags that are commonly available in grocery stores for produce or baked goods.

Shopkeepers would be required to offer shoppers either recyclable paper bags or reusable cloth or plastic bags for their purchases. Those found guilty of continuing to hand out one-use plastic bags after the law takes effect could face a fine of up to $1,000.

“It’s the same local law that the other East End villages and towns are putting up for hearing,” said the village board’s attorney, Fred W. Thiele Jr. by ways of explanation

Although the board was only setting a hearing on the proposal, Nada Barry, an owner of the Wharf Shop, said she was concerned that most local businesses, as hers recently did, order their plastic bags in bulk in order to get the same price and may not be ready to transition to recyclable bags by the April deadline.

“I’m very much in favor of this law,” she said. “We have ordered an incredible quantity because of the cost and I’m not sure if the plastic bags we have will be used up.”

Ms. Barry said the law would prove costly for businesses and urged the village to give them some leeway. Board members said her concerns could be addressed when the hearing is held next month.

Sag Harbor Moves To Evict Yacht Yard From Village Parcel

Tags: , , ,


 

 

Yacht Yard web-1

The Sag Harbor Village Board has begun eviction proceedings to force the Sag Harbor Yacht Yard to vacate this parcel it has leased from the village for boat storage.

 

By Stephen J. Kotz

The Sag Harbor Village Board in a special meeting on November 5 voted to begin eviction proceedings against the Sag Harbor Yacht Yard over a parcel of land the village had been leasing to the business as a boat storage area.

The board agreed to hire attorney Lisa Kombrink, a former Sag Harbor Village and Southampton Town attorney, at a rate of $250 per hour, capping the amount it would pay her at $10,000.

The village and yacht yard have been at loggerheads since a 20-year lease on a landlocked parcel the yacht yard has used for storage ended on May 31 and the two sides were unable to strike a new deal.

Yacht yard owner Lou Grignon this week said he had not heard anything from the village for several months.

Mr. Grignon said he had been sending the village the monthly rent of $1299.38 since his lease expired. “They sent back a bunch of the checks,” he said on Tuesday. “But then they cashed one and asked me send back the others.”

Three boats, some trailers and other equipment used to store boats on land remain on the parcel. They include a 57-foot Chris-Craft owned by Trevor Barry, who recently asked the village if it would allow him to pay rent directly to it.

Mr. Grignon said Mr. Barry is a customer who works on his own boat and hopes to have it in the water next spring. “He’s the kind of customer I can’t afford to have here now,” Mr. Grignon said. “Normally, if I had that property, it would be fine. Without that property he has to go.”

At last week’s meeting, Mayor Brian Gilbride told the board he had sent Superintendent of Public Works Dee Yardley to check on the property and that he had found it in full use. The mayor said the village could possibly use the property to store and repair floating docks. He added that the village has been receiving inquiries from private businesses interested in leasing the land.

Mr. Grignon said his staff was doing its best to clear the site, but he added that the yard recently took in two boats, a 37-footer and a 48-footer that ran aground in an early November storm, with one suffering a broken rudder, the other a cracked hull.

“We had to jam them in somewhere,” Mr. Grignon said.

Mr. Grignon questioned why the village is in such a rush to get rid of him. “They’re making money off me right now,” he said.

“Lou seems to be dragging this out,” the mayor told the board. “We’re going nowhere on this. There is stuff being taken off the property and stuff being put on it.”

The mayor said village attorney Fred W. Thiele Jr. had suggested the village begin eviction proceedings.

Mr. Thiele said he had been in contact with Dennis Downes, Mr. Grignon’s attorney, about a timetable for vacating the premises. “The emails are all the same: He is going to be leaving and now it is November,” Mr. Thiele said.

When Mr. Grignon’s 20-year lease expired on May 31, he had been paying $15,592 a year. He said the village told them the property had been appraised at $20,000, so he offered to pay that amount with annual increases of 2.3 percent over 10 years. The villager countered with a five-year offer starting at $22,500 and going up 5 percent a year.

The property, which was once used by the Mobil Corporation to store fuel oil, was contaminated by leaks from storage tanks. It was eventually turned over to the village for a nominal fee under an agreement that there would be no buildings constructed at the site.

Great Street Honored

Tags: , , , , ,


Crowds on Main Street during HarborFest 2013 on Sunday, 9/8/13

By Stephen J. Kotz

Deborah Alaimo Lawlor, a member of the American Planning Association, the organization that named Sag Harbor’s Main Street one of the 10 “Great Streets in America” earlier this month, presented a proclamation to that effect to the Sag Harbor Village Board on Tuesday.

Ms. Lawlor praised the village for protecting its historic heritage and nurturing the arts while maintaining the feel of a friendly small town.

“Coming to Sag Harbor brings back some fond memories,” said Ms. Lawlor, a New Jersey resident who said she last visited the area about 30 years ago. “Quaint, that’s the picture that remained in my head about Sag Harbor after all this time.”

“This award is an accomplishment of many people who we can’t thank enough,” said Mayor Brian Gilbride, who asked that representatives of the village’s various regulatory boards and its environmental consultants stand at the front of the meeting room for the presentation of the proclamation.

Ms. Lawlor said the village had been recommended for the honor by a professional planner who was a regular visitor to the village.

She said the village is still eligible for a “people’s choice award,” which will be given to the community receiving the most votes at its website, www.planning.org, by the end of the month of October.

Waterfront Park

Landscape architect Ed Hollander, who unveiled the latest sketches for Cove Park, a waterfront park that would be developed under the shadow of the Lance Corporal Jordan C. Haerter Veterans Memorial Bridge, at a special board meeting last week, presented them again to the larger audience that typically attends the board’s monthly meetings.

“It’s definitely not attractive, it’s definitely not of great use to the community,” he said of the proposed site of the park, behind the 7-Eleven convenience store and along the waterfront on the southwest side of the bridge.

Mr. Hollander said the park would open up an overlooked portion of the village’s waterfront to the community and would help tie the rest of the waterfront, from the docks along West Water Street, to Long Wharf and Marine Park, together. He added that it would be developed in an environmentally friendly way with native plant species and as many recycled materials, including plants, as possible.

“The next step is how do we bring this to fruition?” asked Mr. Hollander.

But that was a question the board, which did not discuss the project further, was not prepared to answer on Tuesday.

Later in the meeting, during a public comment period, Jeff Peters, a member of the Harbor Committee, thanked that committee’s former chairman Bruce Tait for being an early advocate of the waterfront park.

Paid Ambulance Job Nixed for Now

Tags: , ,


By Stephen J. Kotz

One of the few large spending increases proposed in this year’s bare-to-the-bones budget for Sag Harbor Village, was a line item to allocate $63,500 to hire an administrator to oversee the operations of the all-volunteer Sag Harbor Ambulance Corps and provide the village with a paid first responder.

“These guys are doing a lot of runs, there is a lot going on and their calls are just increasing,” Mayor Brian Gilbride said last winter. “I would say there is a willingness on my part to make this happen. We have an older population now.”

But last month, the village board, noting the position had yet to be filled, agreed to remove the item from the budget. It did so officially on Tuesday night, decreasing the budget by $63,500, while separately adding $62,085 to help cover the cost of the new police contract, which was set by an arbitration panel last summer.

On Wednesday, Mr. Gilbride said a number of factors contributed to the decision to eliminate the ambulance position from this year’s budget.

For starters, an effort for fire departments and ambulance corps east of Southampton Village to work cooperatively and hire paid first responders has fallen by the wayside,” he said. Instead, Montauk, Amagansett and East Hampton have all hired part-time first responders.

The mayor added that while the village sought to hire an EMT first responder, the board of the ambulance corps wanted a more highly trained AEMT.

On top of that, the mayor added, the village learned last summer that if it added the paid responder position to the budget, it would have put some of the smaller outlying fire districts which contract with the village for fire and ambulance service, over the state’s 2-percent tax levy cap.

Trustee Ed Deyermond added that the village would have run afoul of the Fair Labor Standards Act if it hired a paid responder while the rest of the ambulance corps toiled as volunteers. “It got very complex as to how this was going to work,” he said.

But he said something needs to be done. “The ambulance corps is overworked. There has to be some kind of solution,” he said on Wednesday. “We have to go back to the drawing board. Maybe part-time is the way to go.”

“It didn’t really get off the ground this time,” said Ed Downes, the ambulance corps president, who added that efforts would continue to provide some type of paid first responder.

Mr. Downes said the Sag Harbor Ambulance Corps to date this year has already responded to nearly 800 calls, which works out to nearly three calls per day.

Support for Bag Ban

The board, which has so far been silent on the growing call for a region-wide ban on plastic shopping bags, joined the discussion on Tuesday and asked Fred W. Thiele Jr., its attorney, to draft a notice of public hearing on the issue.

Mr. Gilbride said that Southampton Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst pressed for regional action, perhaps by Earth Day, next April, at a recent meeting of the East End Mayors and Supervisors Association. East Hampton Town is moving forward with a hearing on a ban and both East Hampton and Southampton villages have already banned the bags, ubiquitous at check-out counters across the country.

Mr. Gilbride said both East Hampton Mayor Paul F. Rickenbach Jr. and Southampton Mayor Mark Epley “spoke well of it,” but he added “Riverhead is dead against it.” The mayor noted that the types of bags that are typically used for fruits and vegetables would still be allowed under a ban.

“I support it, I support the concept,” said Trustee Ed Deyermond, who added “it’s going to affect 90 percent of the stores downtown” and that the village needs to reach out to the business community.

He also called on a greater effort to recycle plastics, and said that the dumpster used to collect recyclable plastics at the Southampton Town’s Sag Harbor transfer station are always full to the brim.

Mr. Thiele said that similar bans have brought legal challenges—not from local shopkeepers—but trade groups representing the plastics industry.

Mr. Thiele also told the board that a move by the New York State Legislature to allow New York City to reduce speed limits from 30 miles per hour to 25 miles per hour as well as reduce speed limits to 20-mph where traffic calming measures are not feasible, gives new life to a long-stalled village effort to explore a 20-mph limit in much of the village’s historic district.

Trustee Sandra Schroeder said she would like the village to reduce the speed limit as Route 114 enters the village from East Hampton Town. Mr. Thiele noted that the county will be placing speed cameras in school zones and that Route 114, or Hampton Street, would be a good place for one. He added that fines generated from the cameras would stay in the village because it has its own justice court. He advised the board to send a “home rule” message to the state requesting permission for the reduced speed limits in January.

In other action, the board approved by a 4-1 vote, with Mr. Deyermond dissenting, a request from the new owners of the former Espresso Market on Division and Henry streets to erect a chain link fence around the property, blocking the street, through Thanksgiving while exterior demolition work is being done. Mr. Deyermond said he feared allowing the sidewalk to be blocked would become a precedent for similar construction project.

The board also heard from Lou Grignon, the owner of the Sag Harbor Yacht Yard, who was ordered in August to vacate a parcel he had leased from the village for 20 years for boat storage. Last month, Mr. Grignon told the Harbor Committee the eviction meant that many boat owners were being forced to scramble to find new places to store their vessels. The Harbor Committee, in turn, wrote the village board, all but urging the board to work with Mr. Grignon.

But when Mr. Grignon asked the board if it had read the committee’s letter, he was met with silence.

Boat owner Trevor Barry also spoke, saying he owned one of the last boats remaining on the village parcel Mr. Grignon used to lease, asked if the village would rent him space for the winter because he had nowhere else to store his boat. The board declined his request.

Rob Florio, a Water Mill resident, asked the board if the negotiations with Mr. Grignon were definitely over, to which Mr. Gilbride replied the last offer of a lease had been rejected by Mr. Grignon. When Mr. Florio asked the mayor if the village had found a new leasee, he was told it had not yet done so.

Village Urged To Renew Yacht Yard Lease

Tags: , ,


DSC_0986

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

Tags:


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

Tags: , , ,


2014-08-13 10.08.49

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

Tags: , , , , , , ,


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

Tags: , ,


backpage

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.