Tag Archive | "Sag Harbor Village Board of Trustees"

Personnel Salaries Capped in 2014-15 Sag Harbor Village Budget

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By Kathryn G. Menu

The Sag Harbor Village Board of Trustees unveiled a tentative budget on March 19, highlighted by $91,040 in cuts made from a previous draft of the 2014-15 spending plan, primarily through the reduction of full-time salary increases across several departments.

What was originally an $8.59 million budget was cut between March 5 and March 19. Personnel cuts were made in the justice court’s budget, which was reduced by $7,610; the village treasurer’s budget was cut by $1,680; the clerk’s full-time personnel costs were cut by $1,050; central garage personnel was cut by $2,747; custodial personnel was cut by $5,305; and highway department personnel was cut by $14,181.

A line item for a proposed administrator for the Sag Harbor Ambulance Corps, originally budgeted to cost $80,942 next year, was reduced by $17,442 to $63,500, which, according to Sag Harbor Mayor Brian Gilbride, accounts for salary and benefit expenses associated with the position.

During last Wednesday’s meeting, Trustee Ed Deyermond asked about dock repairs in the village. That line item under Harbors & Docks was cut by $10,000 to $50,000 for the next fiscal year. Mr. Deyermond said that repairs would be necessary, not just for Long Wharf, but for all of the village’s docks including those at Marine Park. The village board is currently awaiting an engineering report on what repairs are necessary on Long Wharf. It has debated whether or not to tackle those repairs piecemeal or to bond for what will likely be a project that costs several thousand dollars.

Trustee Deyermond also raised concerns about the fire department’s truck reserve not being adequately funded. The fire department’s $401,406 budget does not include any money for the reserve account, which the department uses to purchase vehicles.

“We always put something in that account,” said Trustee Deyermond, adding the reserve has about $174,000 remaining, but the department is on schedule to purchase a new pumper in 2017. Without adding to the reserve annually, it will not have the funding to pay for that new vehicle.

“We have been down this road for many, many years and I think we have to plan for the future,” Mr. Deyermond said.

Mayor Gilbride said he would like to see a full assessment of the fire department’s vehicles made by an outside agency.

Trustee Deyermond replied that he had no issue with a needs assessment, but did want to make sure the truck reserve had adequate funding.

“I don’t see, especially with the tax cap we are all trying to stay under, us coming up with a big chunk of money two or three years down the road,” he said.

Kelly Dodds, president of the Sag Harbor Chamber of Commerce, also approached the board, asking it to reinstate some of the chamber’s $4,000 in funding, cut completely out of the 2014-15 spending plan.

That funding, she noted, helps the chamber pay the $11,000 annually it spends to staff the windmill at Long Wharf, which had 9,000 visitors this year all looking for information on Sag Harbor and the East End.

Mayor Gilbride questioned the money the chamber raises in arts and crafts festivals and HarborFest, noting it charges people who have booths at both events.

The Sag Harbor Chamber of Commerce is a non-profit entity, noted Ms. Dodds.

“Our events are meant to break even,” she said. “The money we make from those events goes into publicizing those events, paying for insurance. We have the lowest membership rates on the East End.”

Ms. Dodds asked the board to reconsider.

On Tuesday, Mayor Gilbride said he expected little would change before the budget is considered for adoption, on Wednesday, April 2, at 4 p.m.

In Sag Harbor, A Priority of Public Projects for 2014

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By Kathryn G. Menu

In its last meeting for 2013, the Sag Harbor Village Board of Trustees met in special session Thursday afternoon to talk about a list of village projects that are coming into focus for 2014.

Repairs to Long Wharf, upgrading the Municipal Building with an elevator that would allow access to the long-vacant third and fourth floors of that Main Street building, and constructing a helipad at Havens Beach for emergency service use were three projects village board members debated Thursday.

At the close of the session, board members passed a resolution to get estimates on the cost of all three projects.

While board members agreed all three projects were worth looking at, at the start of the session, with just Mayor Brian Gilbride, Trustee Ken O’Donnell and Trustee Robby Stein in attendance, there was division on how a project like Long Wharf — a project that likely comes with a hefty price tag — should be funded.

“My feeling is we should bond it and do it all at once,” said O’Donnell.

Stein agreed, noting that village treasurer Eileen Tuohy has advised trustees interest rates are historically low, making it desirable to bond for a project of this size.

And sizable it will likely be.

While the village board will now await an updated survey detailing the repair and maintenance needs of Long Wharf, it has been several years since anything outside of annual maintenance performed by village crews has been completed on the aging facility.

In 2010, part of the impetus for Suffolk County to look to Sag Harbor Village as a means of ridding itself of ownership of Long Wharf was a report from the Suffolk County Department of Public Works, outlining over $600,000 in immediate repairs necessary to keep the wharf in working order. While the transfer of Long Wharf to Sag Harbor Village — an over two-year process — did go through, neither the county nor the village ever completed that list of repairs.

In March of this year, village engineer Paul Grosser compiled a schedule of repairs over a 10-year period. The village board discussed funding those repairs — at a total cost of $1 million — with $100,000 annually earmarked annually. Last month, Tuohy suggested it might be fiscally prudent to consider bonding instead.

Gilbride, who has staunchly opposed bonding for the repairs, noted the reserve repair fund has $1.2 million and while the village has paid for the Havens Beach remediation, it is expecting close to $300,000 back from the county and the state for that water quality project.

“I think we have to get a closer handle on what Long Wharf needs,” said Gilbride.

Stein agreed.

“Once we know about the cost, then we should talk about how to pay for it,” he said. “I am not so worried about bonding. I just don’t want to do piecemeal for this project.”

A longtime goal of Gilbride has been to see the village open up the third and fourth floors of the Municipal Building through the construction of an elevator. The village currently has a lift, which provides access from the first to the second floor including the meeting room, building department and justice court for the disabled. However, noted Gilbride, that lift has begun to falter and rather than replace it, he would like the board to consider installing an elevator that would enable the village to make use of the third floor for office space and the fourth floor for storage.

“It’s a key element to getting into the third floor and moving the building department up there,” he said, noting making the fourth floor usable in terms of office space is a larger — and pricier — challenge than he would like to take on this coming year.

According to Gilbride, installing an elevator would cost the village about $165,000.

A 2012 report detailing the cost of Municipal Building repairs and upgrades, including the elevator, estimated $1.8 million in funding would be necessary, which would include sprinkler system for the third floor and the extension of fire escapes to all floors in the building.

On Thursday, the board agreed to look into the cost of just installing the elevator, sprinkler system, and fire escapes — all necessary if the village wants to legally do business on the third floor.

The board also signed off, with little debate, on having an estimate drawn up for the creation of a helipad on Havens Beach. The helipad would specifically be for emergency service providers to use in the instance where a medevac is required out of Sag Harbor.

The next Sag Harbor Village Board of Trustees meeting is scheduled for January 14 at 6 p.m.

Sag Harbor Village Trustees Unanimously Adopt $8.78 Million Budget That Lays Off an Officer

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By Kathryn G. Menu

Early last Thursday morning, the Sag Harbor Village Board of Trustees adopted an $8.78 million budget for 2013-2014 which includes a $519,000 budget for the village’s sewer fund. But among the items reduced for 2013-2014 is the village police department’s budget —  which will now be forced to cut one officer, leaving the department with 10 officers and its chief.

The decision, after months of debate, will result in officer David Driscoll losing his job with the department as its newest hire. Driscoll, an officer who transferred to the department from the Southampton Town Police Department, was honored as the village’s officer of the year this past January for his work in 2012, including for his service as a member of the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office East End DWI Task Force.

The general fund budget of $8,263,381 is a 2.57 percent increase over the 2012-2013 adopted budget and falls below the allowable 4.1 percent spending increase under New York State’s mandated two percent property tax levy cap.

The tax rate under the budget, per $1,000 of assessed value, is set at 2.830, a 3.89 percent increase over last year. Village treasurer Eileen Touhy estimates a house valued at $795,000 in Sag Harbor Village would pay $2,249.85 in village taxes, a 0.0389 increase or $84.27.

Throughout the budget process, the village board discussed scaling back the number of officers in the Sag Harbor Village Police Department to 10 officers. The department currently operates with 11 officers and the chief after the departure of officer Michael Gigante last year amid an ongoing contract negotiation between the village and the Sag Harbor Police Benevolent Association (PBA).

Officers in the department have been working without a contract for close to two years now. That contract negotiation is currently in arbitration.

While the vote Thursday morning was quickly held — and was unanimous among the board’s four members, Mayor Brian Gilbride, Deputy Mayor Ed Gregory, trustee Kevin Duchemin and trustee Robby Stein — what followed was a prolonged debate between members of the department, its chief and the village board about the impact this decision would have on public safety in Sag Harbor.

Police Chief Thomas Fabiano questioned the decision and asked if the board intended to increase his overtime budget, estimating it could cost as much as $300,000 in overtime to replace losing an officer.

“To me this is, again, an incomplete budget,” said Fabiano, adding he feels officer Driscoll has been used as a carrot in ongoing negotiations with the PBA.

Gilbride dismissed that claim and questioned how the schedule would necessitate an additional $300,000 in overtime.

“This is not about an officer or anything else, but it is about the fact we don’t have an unlimited budget,” said Stein. He added he has received calls from people asking the future of the department be put to a public vote, something he is reluctant to do because he is unsure whether the outcome would result in Sag Harbor maintaining its own police department.

Fabiano noted the village board had not even reached the tax levy cap limits yet and questioned why Stein — or other board members — had not talked to him about the impact this will have on his department.

Stein responded he had spoken about this cut at previous meetings, but did not want to have private meetings about a public issue.

Gilbride said ultimately the decision came down to whether or not the village could afford these kinds of costs. The police department budget for 2013-2014, before any figures are calculated when arbitration ends and officers are compensated retroactively for any increases in salaries or benefits for the last two years, is for $1,659,765.

Fabiano said this is a safety issue and called on the board to develop a long range plan for the police department.

“Summer’s coming up and now I have another guy leaving,” he said, adding part time officers are reluctant to come to Sag Harbor given the level of discourse regarding the police department.

“I am confident with 10 people this village can run a police department,” said Gilbride, who added he went to arbitration last week with a specific goal of trying to keep the 11th position with the support of the full village board. He alleged the PBA asked for a three percent increase in salary and eight-hour fixed shifts, but did not make an effort to save officer Driscoll’s position.

“Why would we put ourselves in a position to not negotiate on behalf of the total membership,” asked PBA president Patrick Milazzo.

He added that the village has offered zero percent salary increases in negotiations and denied claims the PBA did not try to save the 11th position.

“I don’t believe you,” said Gilbride. “And this is not the first time you have not done something to save that 11th position.

“What I am trying to do is negotiate for my entire membership,” countered Milazzo. “What I am not going to do is put myself in a position where I am going to negotiate for a portion of my personnel. That is absurd.”

He added he believes the village is trying to paint this picture to put the blame of this loss on the PBA instead of the village board.

“The village is getting to the point where we can’t afford it,” said Gilbride.

“Then don’t,” said Milazzo. “Do it or don’t, but don’t half ass it.”

“Are you saying we should put something up to abolish the police department,” asked Gilbride.

“If you are not going to do it the right way, don’t do it,” said Milazzo, noting that has been his position consistently when discussing the future of the Sag Harbor Village Police Department.

“By diminishing our department by officer Driscoll’s position you are putting us all in jeopardy,” said Sergeant Paul Fabiano.

He added he believes the police budget and the ongoing contract negotiations should not be linked.

“We are supposed to train, we are supposed to prepare but when you have a one person shift, you don’t have adequate personnel, equipment to do the job, you are set up to fail and that is what is happening in my opinion,” said Sergeant Fabiano.

He added the chief was able to find some $70,000 or more in the budget to try and save the position and the village board should have worked to find the rest of the estimated $180,000 needed to keep the 11th position for the upcoming fiscal year.

The fear is not just for the community, said Sergeant Fabiano, but also for officers on duty, some of whom he feared may have to be on duty on their own to accommodate this loss of an officer.

Gilbride said he believed most shifts would remain two-man shifts.

“Can this department run with 10 people, yes. Does it run efficiently, no. Is there a safety issue, absolutely,” said Sergeant Fabiano, adding Detective Jeff Proctor — the department’s only detective — must work patrol duty, taking away from his investigative work.

 

Sag Harbor Village Hatches Long Term Plan for Long Wharf

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It’s been about two years since Suffolk County officials first approached Sag Harbor Village with news that a mounting county budget deficit had led them to consider giving the village Long Wharf, technically a county road, and all costs associated with its long-term maintenance.

Since that time, the county legislature waffled on the transfer, then appeared willing to go through with the offer. But then a change in command came in 2011 with the election of Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone, further stalling an official transfer of Long Wharf to Sag Harbor as the county reorganized itself under new leadership.

However, last month, Suffolk County Legislator Jay Schneiderman — a longtime supporter of the transfer of Long Wharf to Sag Harbor Village — said he expects the county to formally sign off on the deal some time before December.

If the deal goes through, the village will have in its ownership one of the most iconic properties in Sag Harbor, a wharf that already provides a source of revenue for the village, but also comes with a lot of expenses.

During Tuesday night’s Sag Harbor Village Board of Trustees meeting, Mayor Brian Gilbride said he has contacted village treasurer Eileen Touhy and asked her to advise the board about creating a capital reserve fund to cover the long-term costs of maintaining Long Wharf.

According to a 2010 assessment of Long Wharf, completed by the Suffolk County Department of Public Works, at that point a total of $621,000 in repairs were necessary to keep the wharf in good condition.

Mayor Gilbride estimated Long Wharf incurs an estimated $100,000 in maintenance needs each year, meaning as of 2012 about $800,000 in repairs and maintenance could be needed.

While the village does have an estimated $2 million in its reserve fund, Mayor Gilbride said that money should be reserved for critical projects like the remediation of the Havens Beach stormwater runoff drainage ditch and for emergency expenditures.

Taking a cue from an idea presented by the Sag Harbor Village Harbor Committee last year, Mayor Gilbride said he would like to see all revenues from renting Long Wharf — this season an estimated $85,000 — funneled into that account.

Gilbride said he hopes to have a reserve account for the wharf in place sometime in the next two weeks.

Trustee Seat Up For Grabs

On Tuesday night, with Sag Harbor Trustee Robby Stein still hospitalized after a bicycle accident Sunday and with the recent resignation of trustee Tim Culver, Mayor Gilbride was joined on the dais by just two members of the village board — trustees Kevin Duchemin and Ed Gregory.

Sag Harbor resident Nada Barry wondered when the board would look to appoint someone to the board to replace Culver, whose term was set to expire in nine months.

Mayor Gilbride said at this point he had no intentions of making an appointment, later adding if it is the will of the board he would prefer to see the public elect a new trustee next summer rather than appoint someone.

Harbor Committee Talks Ferry

In other news, the Sag Harbor Village Harbor Committee met on Monday evening and at the close of its session, members talked about the possibility of the Hampton Jitney proposing a long-term passenger ferry service out of Sag Harbor.

This summer, the Hampton Jitney launched a passenger ferry, the Peconic Bay Water Jitney, which runs service between Greenport and Sag Harbor villages.

Ferry service — passenger or vehicular — is illegal under the Sag Harbor Village code, but early this summer the village board agreed to allow the Hampton Jitney to operate the service on a temporary basis for one summer season to study the impact it could have on the village.

The service started out slow, but picked up in terms of passengers as the summer season progressed, prompting the Hampton Jitney to expand the service through the month of September.

The village’s conditional approval of the ferry service sunsets at the end of October.

Whether or not the Hampton Jitney will pursue an application for a long-term passenger ferry service out of Sag Harbor Village remains uncertain. According to Hampton Jitney vice president Andrew Lynch, the company has yet to make a decision on that front.

However, members of the Harbor Committee are already attempting to understand the legal implications of such a proposal.

According to Sag Harbor Village attorney Denise Schoen, if the village board wanted to consider allowing a long-term service it would need to adopt a new local law.

Suffolk County is the permitting agent for all ferry service in terms of its license to operate and rates and has already given the Peconic Bay Water Jitney a five-year license. However, the ferry cannot operate out of Sag Harbor without village approval once its conditional approval ends this fall.

“My question is, once we give them a permit to dock on our dock do we have any control on where they go,” asked Harbor Committee Chairman Bruce Tait on Monday night.

Tait said his concern was the service could balloon from a small ferry service between the North and South Forks to a multi-pronged ferry service offering other destinations like Montauk or Foxwoods Casino in Connecticut.

Schoen said she did not believe the village could mandate how the Hampton Jitney decides to run its passenger ferry business, but that village attorney Fred W. Thiele, Jr. was already researching the village’s options should it want to continue to allow the service, but with some restriction.

Tait also wondered if a year-to-year license agreement might protect the village.

Schoen said as property owners of Long Wharf a license agreement may give the village board leeway in deciding not to renew the license if the service grows beyond what the village deems appropriate for Sag Harbor.

“The general consensus from the public and from our internal ferry committee is the negative impact of the ferry has been very little,” noted Tait.

“One of the caveats to that,” added Sag Harbor Village environmental planning consultant Rich Warren, “is that is based on where the ferry is right now.”

“And we don’t know what the future is,” agreed Tait.

Sag Harbor Trustees Withdraw Bamboo Ban

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Following both praise and criticism by Sag Harbor residents over a proposed law that would have banned bamboo in the village, on Tuesday night the Sag Harbor Village Board of Trustees voted to withdraw the legislation from consideration.

“I have been talking to different people and I think the best thing to do is to advise people not to plant invasive species,” said trustee Robby Stein, first suggesting the proposed legislation be tabled and then suggesting it be withdrawn completely.

The rest of the village board supported Stein unanimously, including Sag Harbor Mayor Brian Gilbride.

The legislation was originally introduced in September after the village board heard the pleas of resident Pat Field this summer. Field said she has done almost everything imaginable in an effort to kill bamboo spreading onto her Madison Street property from a neighbor’s yard. The bamboo, said Field, was threatening her very home.

Originally, the legislation targeted all invasive species of plants, but was quickly scaled back to address only bamboo. According to the last version of the draft law, if adopted residents would not have been allowed to have bamboo “planted, maintained or otherwise permitted to exist within 10-feet of any property line, street, sidewalk or public right of way.”

However, the legislation was criticized by some in the village — including homeowners facing a similar battle as Field — as being too far reaching for the local municipality, and potentially costly for village residents who bought properties that already contained bamboo.

“I think the discussion we have had was  a great discussion, but it showed clearly this is a neighbor to neighbor issue and the bigger issue here is there are residents who have bamboo and have done everything right,” said Mayor Gilbride. “It is the encroachment onto neighbor’s properties that really needs to be addressed.”

Prior to the meeting, Mayor Gilbride said he would ask Sag Harbor Village Attorney Fred W. Thiele, Jr. to explore what options the village has to ensure property owners are properly maintaining their bamboo and not negatively impacting their neighbors.

Village to Take Closer Look at Municipal Building

Following a special Sag Harbor Board of Trustees meeting on Thursday, December 8, the village has agreed to spend $15,000 to explore the structural integrity of the Municipal Building on Main Street.

According to Mayor Gilbride, the goal is to ascertain whether the third and fourth floors of the building — now used for solely storage and not open to the public — could be made accessible through an elevator in the building.

Currently, the Municipal Building has a lift installed to help disabled residents gain access to the second floor, which houses the village justice court, building department, main meeting room and the mayor’s office.

While much depends on what this structural assessment shows, Mayor Gilbride said it has long been a dream of his to have the third floor opened up for use by village government. An elevator is required by law for the village to place any entity needed by residents on the third floor.

Mayor Gilbride said he envisions moving the building department to the third floor, if an elevator could be installed, so that department would have more space in which to work. A mayor’s office and conference room for the village boards could also be carved out of that space, he added.

The village’s justice court has largely taken up most of the office space traditionally used as the conference room, as well as the mayor’s office.

According to Superintendent of Public Works Dee Yardley, he will work with engineers to first try and locate the original schematics for the Municipal Building, which dates back to at least 1850, he said.

After that, ascertaining the possibilities for the Municipal Building should happen rather quickly, said Yardley.

“These are all new thoughts,” cautioned Mayor Gilbride. “The toughest part will be seeing if we can get an elevator in here at all.”

A Divided Community in the Battle over Bamboo

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Carl Peterson takes a pick ax to the bamboo in his yard.

Carl Peterson takes a pick ax to the bamboo in his yard.



By Kathryn G. Menu

Carl Peterson has been battling bamboo on his Garden Street property for over 20 years. He fights back new shoots each spring and drives down barriers around one particularly dense bamboo stand to prevent it from crawling even closer to his foundation, which is also protected by barriers.

“The roots are like a cancer,” added Peterson Tuesday morning in his backyard. “The roots intertwine with all the other vegetation, and it is virtually impossible to control.”

While Peterson has fought the bamboo crop that originally was planted by a tenant 30 years ago on the property next door, he, along with several other village residents, expressed concerns this week over a proposed village law that would virtually outlaw most of the bamboo in Sag Harbor.

The proposed law is a scaled back version of an original law that sought to banish all invasive plant species within the village. The new version addresses only bamboo.

According to the draft law, residents would not be allowed to have bamboo “planted, maintained or otherwise permitted to exist within 10-feet of any property line, street, sidewalk or public right of way.”

At Tuesday night’s Sag Harbor Village Board meeting, a host of residents turned out both in favor and against the proposed law, although most said it needed to be more specific.

Before a public hearing on the proposed legislation was even opened, Sag Harbor Mayor Brian Gilbride said he had received a number of phone calls from residents concerned about the law.

“I have received a couple calls on this also,” said trustee Ed Gregory. “One person had bamboo on their property for 10 years and did what was necessary when it was installed to prevent it from migrating on other properties. They were concerned it presented a nice screening, but also to remove it and replant other plants would be quite expensive.”

Trustee Bruce Stafford wondered if instead, the village board should look at requiring property owners with bamboo to install barriers to prevent it from encroaching on neighboring properties

Former mayor Pierce Hance said that rather than outlawing bamboo altogether, he believed the village should look at requiring property owners who have bamboo encroaching on a neighbor’s land to take responsibility for its removal if the village hears a complaint.

Peterson wondered if it was something the village should legislate at all, or if it should be left as an issue handled neighbor to neighbor.

“Bamboo often comes back after supposed removal and the removal is extremely expensive,” said Peterson, adding adopting the law was tantamount to reducing the property values of anyone who has bamboo on their parcel. The properties containing bamboo could be viewed in the same light as a one with an underground fuel tank or termites, he said.

Peterson added that while the bamboo on his property is a result of a planting that occurred on his neighbor’s property, if he ran into property damage issues, he would reach out to his neighbor or in the worst case scenario consider litigation.

“It would never occur to me to come to the village trustees and ask them to address the situation,” he said.

Resident Mary Falborn does not have the same relationship with her neighbor as Peterson. She said after returning to her Sag Harbor home in July she discovered bamboo from her neighbor’s property had traveled some 30-feet into her yard, with 190 stalks visible on her property alone.

“Am I responsible,” she asked. “Do I have to put the barrier in for his bamboo?”
“Honestly, I think whoever planted the bamboo should be responsible,” said Mayor Gilbride.

Diane Schiavoni’s Oakland Avenue home has an established bamboo stand that has been there for two decades. If she is forced to remove it, Schiavoni said she would be left with a view of an unpainted garage.

“I think this is a neighbor to neighbor problem,” she said. “The answer is containment.”

Pat Field — who originally requested the village address encroaching bamboo — said she believes the law should focus on future plantings of bamboo, unless it is traveling over a property line, in which case the responsible party should install barriers.

“That was my idea,” she said. “I don’t want to change all of Sag Harbor.”

Sag Harbor Garden Center owner Phil Bucking’s business is surrounded on three sides by an enormous stand of bamboo that stretches across several properties. One property owner, said Bucking, has been responsible and contained the bamboo, which has prevented it from weaving its way onto Bucking’s property. The rest of the bamboo is not contained.

Bucking added that grandfathering in bamboo stands would be complicated because the plant spreads to other properties so quickly.

At the close of the hearing, Mayor Gilbride said he was unsure if this was something the village should legislate, but agreed to hold the hearing open through December to allow residents to continue to comment, while the village board weighs its options.

Neighbors Protest Harbor Heights Expansion

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By Kathryn G. Menu


As a former member of the Sag Harbor Village Board of Trustees, Tiffany Scarlato was intimately involved with the revision of the village zoning code, which, in part, allowed gas stations to open convenience stores as an accessory use under fairly strict guidelines.

Armed with that knowledge, and as a neighbor of Harbor Heights Gas Station on Route 114, at Tuesday’s Sag Harbor Village Zoning Board of Appeals meeting, Scarlato came out in opposition to a plan to expand the gas station by adding a 1,000 square-foot convenience store.

The Sag Harbor-based attorney charged that the property’s owner, John Leonard, has the ability to build a convenience store within the limits of the village code and questioned how the zoning board could grant variances to allow the project to move forward.

Scarlato was not alone. She was joined by Harbor Heights Gas Station neighbor Michael Butler, as well as Save Sag Harbor President Mia Grosjean, who both questioned the size and scale of Leonard’s plans.

The Harbor Heights expansion has been before the village planning board for several months. Leonard hopes to demolish the existing 1,874 square-foot gas station building and erect an 1,842 square-foot building that will include a 1,000 square-foot convenience store on a re-configured property.

The new building would be constructed perpendicular to Route 114, connecting to the service station a second business on the property, which Leonard also hopes to expand with a new bathroom and office.

The Harbor Heights gas pumps, which now sit next to Route 114, would be moved to the north side of the property and covered by a 20-foot high canopy, which would be lit with Dark Sky compliant lights. The gas station currently has four fueling pumps for regular gasoline and a diesel pump, but, under Leonard’s proposal, would have seven pumps for regular gasoline and one for diesel.

While the Harbor Heights property is currently open to the road with one large curb, Leonard’s attorney Dennis Downes said the New York State Department of Transportation has been working towards the approval of a much smaller curb cut with one entrance and one exit to the property.

Leonard has also proposed landscaping on all three side of the property in order to screen the station from neighboring property owners.

While the village planning board is in the midst of its review of the project, it needs six variances from the zoning board to ultimately be approved.

Leonard needs a variance to allow the new convenience store building to be constructed 15.6-feet from Hampton Street, where 50-feet is required by the village code and at a height of 25.5 feet, where 20 feet would normally be allowed.

He also needs a variance to allow the construction of the fueling station island 23-feet from Hampton Street where 50-feet is required by code, and to build a 20-foot canopy, which would be five feet over what code allows.

According to Leonard’s engineer, Chris Tartaglia of Highpoint Engineering, the building would be constructed in the same location as the existing building, and the height would allow it to resemble a residence. The height of the canopy, he added, is to allow fuel tankers access to the pumps.

Turning the building so the short side of the structure faces Hampton Street is an attempt to reduce the visual massing of the building, Tartaglia said.

He added that Leonard has proposed 13 parking spaces behind the buildings, which will not be visible from the street, and said he is flanking the entire perimeter with “dense landscaping.”

Board member Michael Bromberg wondered why the new building was not being pushed to the back of the property, where it would conform to the village code.

Tartaglia said it was possible to build the structure off the back of the Sag Harbor Service Station, but that it would not be as visually pleasing, with the fuel pumps and service station becoming the focus of the property from Hampton Street.

Tartaglia said that if Leonard kept four fueling stations it would not be economically viable, with Downes noting that cars are often lined up in the road waiting to get gas, creating a hazard.

“I do use the gas station and I got to tell you it scares the hell out of me and the people in the village too,” said board member Brendan Skislock.

At Bromberg’s questioning, Downes said the gas station’s current hours of operation, from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. in the off-season and 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. in the summer, would not change once the convenience store opened, and that restriction could be written into planning board approval.

Another variance Leonard needs is to build a 1,000 square-foot convenience store, where the code only allows a 600 square-foot convenience store.

According to Tartaglia, in order to be competitive, Leonard needs the square footage to offer similar goods found at places like 7-Eleven.

Leonard needs two variances for landscape coverage. Tartaglia said the proposed landscape plan was the maximum the property could hold.

Lastly, Leonard needs a variance for the expansion of the service station, which is considered a pre-existing, non-conforming use.

But Scarlato questioned why Leonard could not simply adhere to the code requirements, which she said would still allow for a convenience store on the property.

“There is no reason why the applicant could not put the building on another part of the property,” she said.

Bromberg suggested the board require Leonard to show what he could build as of right on the property.

Butler, whose Eastville Avenue home is adjacent to the gas station, said he “did not relish the idea of looking out my windows and seeing a canopy with lights.”

Butler asked the zoning board to make Leonard adhere to landscaping requirements in the code, adding he was concerned about the overall aspect of “suburban sprawl” the project could create.

Leonard countered he was doing everything in his power to create a residential feel on the property and that his landscaping plan includes planting 16-foot tall trees around the border of the property.

“We are trying to do the right thing,” he said.

Grosjean, representing herself and also Save Sag Harbor, said she was concerned about any project that goes outside the limitations of the zoning code which was created to protect residents of the village.

The Harbor Heights application will continue its review in front of the planning board on Tuesday, May 24 at 5:30 p.m.

Three Will Run Uncontested in Sag Harbor

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By Kathryn G. Menu


Barring an aggressive write-in campaign, mayor Brian Gilbride, deputy mayor Tim Culver and trustee Ed Gregory will continue to serve on the Sag Harbor Village Board of Trustees after village elections on June 21, as no one handed in petitions to run against the incumbents by the May 17 deadline.

Sag Harbor Village Justice Andrea Schiavoni and acting justice Lisa Rana will also continue their positions in the newly created village justice court with no one vying to unseat the justices, who were appointed last year after the court was created.

The full slate of incumbents announced earlier this year that they would run together under the Sag Harbor Party banner, which has dominated village government throughout several administrations.

“I would have been happy to defend what we have done in the last two years,” said mayor Gilbride on Wednesday morning. “I think no one running against us shows that maybe we have made a lot of right decisions for the village over the last couple years.”

Mayor Gilbride praised trustee Gregory and said that as a member of the board with over 20 years of service behind him, the trustee brings a lot to the table in terms of institutional knowledge. He added that Culver, an attorney who worked with several members of the business community during the re-write of the village zoning code, has also been an asset for the board of trustees and someone he looks forward to working with for the next two years.

“I think this also points to the fact that we made an excellent choice for our appointed village justice in Andrea Schiavoni as well as our associate justice Lisa Rana,” he added. “The village justice court is working out well for everyone.”

Mayor Gilbride said he is looking forward to beginning to tackle stormwater runoff pollution at Havens Beach this year, as well as erosion on West Water Street after several storms last winter ate away most of the embankment next to West Water Street and threatened the roadway.

The village’s planning consultant Richard Warren has been working with engineers to develop a plan for dealing with the West Water Street erosion, said mayor Gilbride, and he hopes to have plans finalized before the fall.

While the Suffolk County Legislature is waffling over whether to give Long Wharf — technically a county road — to the village after months of saying the village needed to take ownership and financial responsibility for the wharf, mayor Gilbride said he would like to see that issue settled “one way or the other” in the next month.

“We have a few things moving along, but otherwise it will continue to be business as usual for us,” he said. “We will just keep plugging along, providing services, but trying to hold the line on expenses.”

Long Wharf Purchase Imminent

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By Kathryn G. Menu

Sag Harbor Village
Long Wharf Purchase Imminent

At the next Sag Harbor Village Board of Trustees meeting, on Tuesday, February 8, Mayor Brian Gilbride will make a push for the board to formally accept Suffolk County’s offer to sell the village Long Wharf and the adjacent Windmill Beach for $1.

On Tuesday morning, Mayor Gilbride said the village received a formal offer from the county to purchase Long Wharf and Windmill Beach two weeks ago, and that he would like to take action on the matter immediately. The board’s first budget work session will be held on February 25, he noted, and if purchased Long Wharf could cost the village as $340,000 in short term repairs, with the long term maintenance likely in the millions.

Late last year, the county approached the village about the sale of Long Wharf, which was once owned by Sag Harbor Village, but was transferred into county ownership decades ago. While the county has paid the bill for the long-term maintenance of the wharf as its owners, the village has taken in revenues from dockage at the site, last year earning $93,000.

While funding was in place, through a bond, for the county to complete some $600,000 in repairs to Long Wharf — something Mayor Gilbride hoped would be completed before the sale — no financial help has been offered to the village in correlation with the sale.

“I am at a point where I feel like we should just bring this to an end and just do it,” said Mayor Gilbride.

The Sag Harbor Village Board of Trustees will meet on the second floor of the Municipal Building at 6 p.m.

East Hampton Town
Multi-Town Helicopter Noise Advisory Committee on the Horizon

At tonight’s East Hampton Town Board meeting, it is expected the board will formally adopt the creation of a “Multi-Town Helicopter Noise Advisory Committee” to give a small group of experts in East Hampton, Southampton, Southold, Shelter Island and Riverhead the ability to work towards addressing helicopter noise, long viewed as a regional issue affecting a number of residents across the East End.

Last summer, in response to years of complaints by residents about the amount of helicopter traffic, and ensuing noise they bring to the East End, the Federal Aviation Administration proposed a draft plan aimed at regulating helicopter traffic and curbing chopper noise.

Under the proposed regulation, helicopter pilots would be required to follow a northern route one mile offshore over Long Island Sound to Shoreham where they would split off either to Gabreski Airport in Westhampton, the Southampton Helipad, Montauk Airport or East Hampton Airport following voluntary routes established in 2007, some of which bring flights to and from East Hampton directly over Sag Harbor and Noyac.

Regulations also propose that pilots keep a minimum altitude of 2,500 feet.

However, many residents and municipalities feared the regulations would do little to address the problem, and according to East Hampton Town Board Councilman Dominick Stanzione, four East End towns began working together to come up with a regional noise abatement program. In their talks, Stanzione said it became clear a multi-town helicopter noise abatement committee should be formed to create a draft plan to tackle the problem. If the East Hampton Town Board and the East End Mayors and Supervisors sign off on their plan, it would then be formally presented to the FAA.

“I think the issue of helicopter noise in our town has gotten to the point where we need multi-town solutions,” said Stanzione at a town board meeting on Saturday, January 29.

The committee, which will be comprised of one citizen representative from each of the four towns, as well as airport managers and New York State Senator Ken LaValle and New York State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr. will look toward suggesting voluntary solutions to the noise issue, such as re-routing of helicopters, as well as long term legislative and regulatory suggestions.

Stanzione will serve as the town board liaison to the committee, and Peter Wadsworth, a member of the town’s noise abatement committee, is expected to be appointed the town’s representative during Thursday night’s meeting.

East Hampton Town
MTK Concert Continues to Draw Protest

Despite the refusal of the East Hampton Town Board to rescind a mass gathering permit that will allow a two-day music festival, MTK: Music to Know Summer Music Festival at Oceanview Farm in Amagansett, some Amagansett residents continue to hammer the board about their concerns regarding the August event.

During its Saturday, January 29 meeting, the East Hampton Town Board heard once more from Amagansett resident John Broderick, a concert designer who has worked with musical acts like Madonna and Metallica.

Broderick called on the town’s police department and fire marshal to take a closer look at the music festival site plan, stating he does not believe it is possible to pull off what promoters Chris Jones and Bill Collage have presented and calling the festival a safety concern.

Both the fire marshal and East Hampton Town Police Chief Eddie Ecker have already signed off on the plan, which was approved by the town board in December.

On Saturday, Broderick questioned whether or not emergency service personnel will have adequate access to the site, which is located off Montauk Highway just outside downtown Amagansett. He charged should a stroke or injury occur, there is “no fast way” for an ambulance to enter the site, as there are only two entrances off the highway onto the farm and the back of the property is “barricaded” by the Long Island Railroad tracks. He said the same issue should raise safety alarms in the event of a fire.

East Hampton Town
Planning Board Changes

Last week, East Hampton Town Planning Board member Reed Jones was named the new chairman of that board, which has been led by acting chairman Bob Schaeffer since John Lycke stepped down from the post in September for personal reasons.

Schaeffer will continue to serve on the board as vice chairman.

Jones is an East Hampton resident and is an insurance broker at Amaden Gay Agencies.

On Tuesday, February 1, the East Hampton Town Board also appointed Amagansett resident Frank Falcone to the planning board. He replaces board member Sylvia Overby, whose term has expired. The appointment was almost unanimous, with councilwoman Julia Prince abstaining from the measure.

Government Briefs: 1-20-11

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Burke Building Almost Legal
By Kathryn G. Menu

A historic Division Street, Sag Harbor residence owned by Edward Burke, Jr. and his family will likely be converted into five legal office spaces next month following a straw poll Tuesday by members of the Sag Harbor Village Zoning Board of Appeals.

The Burke building, as it has come to be known, is located at 39 Division Street, and for over a year now has housed five office spaces after the Burke family restored the residence’s historic exterior and converted rooms into several office spaces. The work, however, was done prior to the Burke’s gaining approval for the change through the village planning board and zoning board of appeals.

This fall, the planning board indicated it was comfortable with the change of use, as the village’s new code zones the parcel in the newly created office district. That left the matter in the hands of the zoning board, which had several variances it had to rule on before that change could become official.

On Tuesday night, the Burke’s attorney Brian Desesa presented the zoning board with a reconfigured parking plan, as well as information on the other four parcels in the village’s office district, noting ultimately there are only three buildings within that district that can take advantage of the new district. The fourth parcel is the village parking lot off Division Street.

Also at issue was the size of each office, which was one of the variances needed for the change to become legal. While village code requires each office to be 800 square feet or larger, all of the office spaces in the Burke building fall far below that. Desesa argued that was in keeping with the integrity of the historic residence’s floor plan, which the Burke family maintained when it constructed the renovation.

Village attorney Anthony Tohill added that the office uses within the building, currently for a part-time Sag Harbor attorney and a healthcare agency, are passive uses, with many tenants keeping part time hours.

At next month’s meeting, Tohill is expected to present the board with a resolution for approval. The Burke building will then come before the village planning board once more for final approval on the change of use.

In other zoning board news, Michael and Joan Brosnan of 53 Franklin Avenue were approved for a 290 square foot, one-bedroom addition to their 712 square-foot home.

Michael Brosnan said he and his wife moved their twins to Sag Harbor from Montauk to take advantage of the Sag Harbor School District, but that the twins had outgrown their small bedroom.

He added the couple loved the Sag Harbor look of their home and tried to design the addition in keeping with the small Cape-style cottage.

“If we don’t become pregnant again, I won’t come before this board again,” he joked.

Virginia and Kenneth Ludacer were also granted variances to construct a two-and-a-half story addition on their home at 132 Jermain Avenue. According to architect Meryl Kramer, the home will be rehabilitated, as it is currently in poor shape, its foundation literally falling apart. In addition a back bedroom and deck will be added, while a shed in the backyard will be removed.

The village’s historic preservation and architectural review board has already supported the addition.

Jean Held also received a variance from the village pyramid law to expand her Franklin Avenue home by 832 square-feet, an expansion supported by all of Held’s neighbors.

Lastly, the application to legalize the Larry Rivers “Legs” sculpture at Ruth Vered and Janet Lehr’s Madison Street home was tabled at the request of Clayton Munsey. Munsey has represented the couple in their quest to keep the “Legs” despite it being considered an accessory structure, and illegal, under the village code. He said he was unaware it would be on the board’s January calendar.

The board granted the stay, but board chairwoman Gayle Pickering said she did not want to see adjournment as a “stalling tactic” in this case. She asked the building department to inform Munsey the matter would be heard at the board’s February 15 meeting.

Ialacci’s Benefits Restored

After having his village health insurance dropped in December, former village police chief Joseph Ialacci and his wife Nancy had their benefits restored last week by the Sag Harbor Village Board of Trustees.

The board dropped Ialacci’s village insurance on December 30 after they said he racked up over $70,000 in healthcare costs to the plan when Ialacci’s Medicare coverage should have been used as his primary insurance.

Sag Harbor Village Mayor Brian Gilbride said several attempts to work out a payment schedule with Ialacci failed, resulting in the termination, although Ialacci’s attorney, John Bracken said his client was working with the Social Security Administration, hospitals and doctors to reimburse the monies to the village.

According to Bracken, the insurance coverage was restored retroactively to the December 30 date it was rescinded. Last week, Bracken informed the board that if the insurance was not reinstated by January 14, the village could be looking at a lawsuit.

On Monday, Gilbride said the village was doing its due diligence in restoring the coverage, but that village attorneys were still looking into the matter. One issue they are exploring is whether or not the current board must legally uphold Ialacci’s personnel contract, which guarantees him coverage after retirement and was drafted by a previous board of trustees.

Concert Debate Rages On

In East Hampton Town, some Amagansett residents continue to fuel a debate over town board approval for a two-and-a-half day concert at Ocean View Farms in Amagansett, August 12 through 14.

On December 21, Sag Harbor residents Chris Jones and Bill Collage were approved by the East Hampton Town Board for a mass gathering permit to allow the MTK: Music to Know Summer Music Festival at the farm, located on Route 27 just outside downtown Amagansett.

The concert is proposed to feature two stages, 20 bands and vending areas for local businesses and restaurants. Jones and Collage said they hope to sell a maximum of 9,500 tickets to the weekend event.

Since then, a group of Amagansett residents, including members of that hamlet’s citizens advisory committee and BookHampton owner Charline Spektor have criticized the board’s decision and mounted a campaign to get the concert’s mass gathering permit rescinded.

This week, Spektor sent members of BookHampton’s e-mail list serve a letter expressing her concerns and urging residents to send letters to the town board, as well as attend a meeting tonight, Thursday, January 20.

In the letter she noted Collage and Jones have no prior experience in production or festival management, and questioned the charitable donation Collage and Jones have promised local food pantries and not-for-profits. Further, she questioned the “dangerous aspect” of a potential 20,000 concert attendees coming to Amagansett without any place to stay, or accommodations for “food, sanitary, emergency and other related issues.”

“The allegations made by Charline Spektor and distributed under her Bookhampton banner, questioning MTK festival’s commitment to donating $100,000 to local charities are completely baseless, disingenuous and frankly, mean-spirited,” replied Jones in a statement. “MTK has employed an Outreach Director who has already met with several local charities to discuss details of their inclusion and this process continues with scores of other groups, as we identify those to include. Representatives from these charities are excited and appreciative of these efforts. There never has been, nor will be any question of reneging these commitments. Further allegations from Ms Spektor concerning details of the festival, from the number of attendees to the level of professionalism and experience of the event production are also without merit. We encourage everyone who supports music and this two-day event which celebrates music, to attend a meeting this Thursday at 7 p.m. at East Hampton Town Hall.”