Tag Archive | "Sag Harbor Village Board of Trustees"

Commercial Mooring Field Off Sag Harbor Irks Local Residents

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Sag Harbor resident and real estate agent John Brannen has enjoyed the largely recreational waterfront of the Ninevah community for years, but with the summer season this year he says the waterfront has been marred by the creation of a commercial mooring field, just outside of Sag Harbor Village waters, that boasts 60 to 70 moorings.

On Tuesday, August 10 Brannen approached the Sag Harbor Village Board of Trustees in hopes of finding a solution to the problem, which he says has created safety issues and has disrupted his rights as a waterfront property owner.

“I think commercially we have an obligation to regulate that business,” said Brannen. “I live on the beach in Ninevah, I have a boat and my navigation is being obscured, recreation is being obscured and I don’t know what is being dumped in the water.”

Deputy Mayor Tim Culver, the board’s liaison to the village’s harbors and docks, said he agreed with Brannen, but that the village’s hands are tied as the moorings have been erected just outside the village’s jurisdiction and is in New York State controlled waters. Culver said under state law, a person can erect just 10 moorings without a permit.

“It’s not like it is state water and they are just dropping an anchor,” said Brannen. “This is impacting us tremendously and we need to do something about it.”

Culver said he was working with Sag Harbor Village Attorney Fred W. Thiele, Jr. to find a solution, but Thiele added it would likely be something the state would have to address, not the village.

“It’s dangerous, and this is a historically recreational area that is now becoming housing in our bay,” said Brannen, who said the moorings are so numerous they literally extend across the bay.

Brannen said he would like to see the water preserved as a state park for recreation only, although Sag Harbor Mayor Brian Gilbride said it would likely be easier to simply restrict moorings there instead.

Anita Rainford, representing the Azurest Property Owners Association said she was aware of the problem as well, and that the situation has led to pirating. Rainford said she has had her anchor and pick-up buoy stolen this season, when in year’s past it was safe enough for her to leave her keys on her boat.

In other village news, the board adopted a local law on Tuesday night that expands the residency requirements for any elected Sag Harbor village justice to include legal professionals in Southampton and East Hampton towns. It is also in ongoing talks about plans to revamp parking in Sag Harbor for next summer and legalize music in the village, both of which will be discussed at the board’s next meeting on Tuesday, September 13.

The board also formally denied the John Jermain Memorial Library’s request to extend the village wastewater treatment service to the library to accommodate plans for an expansion at that site. The library will now have to work with the Suffolk County Health Department to obtain permits for an on-site system at their Main Street facility.

Lastly, Sag Harbor Village Police Chief Tom Fabiano was given permission to hire David Scott Discoll as a full-time police officer at a starting salary of $87,610.

Proposed Apartment Law in Sag Harbor Draws Criticism

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For several months now, Sag Harbor Mayor Brian Gilbride has listened as a parade of residents have continually reinforced the fact there are likely hundreds of illegal apartments in Sag Harbor, each resident detailing the likelihood their own neighbors are likely in on the practice.

Without naming names, of course.

The speakers, which have appeared in a series of village board meetings, have spoken in support of, and opposition to, plans to expand an accessory apartment law in the village that would legitimize some existing, illegal apartments.

The expansion of the law would allow about 50 residents, who can show they have illegally operated an apartment in an outbuilding such as a barn or garage for five consecutive years, the ability to bring those units up to code and become legal rentals with amnesty. Two years ago, under then-mayor Gregory Ferraris, the village passed similar legislation targeted at those with illegal units within their primary residences with just a handful coming forward to bring their units up to code.

According to trustee Robby Stein, who spearheaded the expansion with former deputy mayor Tiffany Scarlato, the law is meant to address the safety issues inherent in illegal apartments, while simultaneously opening up a greater stock of rental housing in Sag Harbor.

However, as the board revises the draft legislation and continues public hearings, the law has recently come under fire by some village residents who have expressed concerns about it not protecting neighborhoods from too many apartments and other density issues. In addition, the fairness of the law has been questioned, as has the ability for village code enforcement to truly crack down on those not willing to legalize their units once the law is adopted.

During a village board meeting on Tuesday night, the tone was no different.

Stein opened the discussion by stating he wanted to see the issue left open to the public, while village officials continue to re-draft the law to address these concerns.

Deputy mayor Tim Culver said density was one issue, in particular, he would like to see addressed, specifically how to ensure 10 of the 50 units approved in the pilot program do not end up in one neighborhood.

That was just one of several concerns resident Paul Zaykowski said he had with the law, which he charged was so full of holes a truck could drive right through it.

Zaykowski started by stating he does not believe the expansion of the law will help affordable housing in the village, noting many village properties are owned as investments, and that a majority of these accessory units would not likely be rented to children by their parents in hopes of keeping them in Sag Harbor.

“I would be all for Mr. Smith or Mr. Jones renting out so their kids can stay here,” he said, adding the law would more likely be used as an income generator by people who already have enough money to purchase a $2 million home in Sag Harbor. Zaykowski also wondered what happens to those who don’t bring their units up to code.

Gilbride said once the law is passed, sometime this fall, village code enforcement will inventory the village in search of illegal units and cite them.

“That is going to cause a ton of disruption,” said Zaykowski, asking why code enforcement has not dealt with the numerous illegal apartments in the village already, or leave well enough alone.

“The problem is now that this has reared its head something has to happen,” said Gilbride.

“Part of it is hopefully for affordability, but the other part is for safety,” added Stein.

Zaykowski also questioned why someone who has broken the law for a number of years is given amnesty, and why he, as someone who has not broken the law and paid their taxes, would not be allowed to capitalize on the accessory apartment law by building his own unit.

“Your point is a good one,” said Stein, saying in the future, if they meet code, he would see no problem allowing new units to be built in the village.

“This is the first stage,” said Stein. “Let’s get what we know is out there in compliance.”

“If you really believe this is a safety issue and know they are out there, you should be enforcing the current law,” said former mayor and Sag Harbor resident Pierce Hance. “If there is a clear and present danger you should be acting on it. That is where the village responsibility lies and you are not acting on it.”

Hance said he doubted the law would ultimately help affordable housing in the village on either end of the spectrum and encouraged the board to deal with what is out there now before changing the law.

“Let’s enforce the code, get a level playing field without safety issues and then address what to do,” said Hance. “Let’s not award the bank robber after he is gone and give him the money anyway.”

Sag Harbor Village Trustees Look to Tackle West Water Street Erosion

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The Village of Sag Harbor hopes to tackle erosion on West Water Street that has threatened a waterfront embankment and adjacent roadway this fall, according to Mayor Brian Gilbride.

Last December, after receiving word from superintendent of public works Jim Early that the embankment had been damaged for the fourth time that year due to stormy weather, Gilbride reached out to village planning consultant Richard Warren about developing a plan for the area, rather than what he called “the band aid” approach of revitalizing the shoreline with sand and rocks.

“There is some [Federal Emergency Management Agency] money available for the damage down there and some grant monies as well,” said Gilbride on Wednesday. “We are hoping to be able to go in there and do the repair in one shot and get away from this band aid approach, although a lot still has to happen for that to occur.”

At the recommendation of Warren, the village board hired Steve Maresca during a board of trustees re-organizational meeting Wednesday morning, to design an erosion control plan for the embankment at West Water Street, as well as timber steps from the street level to the water level and a wood boardwalk.

In other village news, Trustee Tim Culver was named Deputy Mayor, taking over the duty from former trustee Tiffany Scarlato who did not seek re-election last month. Benedetta Deubel and Michael Bromberg were reappointed to the zoning board of appeals for five-year terms, and Dr. Tom Halton and Jeff Peters were reappointed to the Harbor Committee for three-year terms. According to Gilbride, Harbor Committee member Nancy Haynes has yet to let the village know if she would like to continue her term on the committee.

The village also hired Larry Indimine to perform an appraisal of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) property adjacent to the Lance Corporal Jordan Haerter Veterans Memorial Bridge. According to Gilbride, the village intends to bid on the property, which will be up for public auction later this month. The board also agreed to use monies from the village contingency account to prepare the village’s bid and for possible acquisition of the parcel if the village is the successful bidder.

Trustee Robby Stein said he had several community members, and Save Sag Harbor, ask if there is a fund to contribute to for the purchase of the property. Village attorney Fred W. Thiele, Jr. said the village could set up a separate account for such a donation.

Lastly, the board agreed to perform an updated energy use inventory of municipal buildings with the aid of 725 GREEN. In 2008, the village performed a similar survey.

According to a letter submitted by 725 GREEN member Sumner Pingree, 725 GREEN has received a small grant enabling them to hire a college intern to perform the assessment with Pingree, at no cost to the village.

“With your leadership, we believe such information will promote over time greater efficiency of operations, real cost savings, better decision making and planning, as well as a more competitive stance by which the village can pursue federal, state and local funding for priority retrofit, energy efficiency and conservation projects,” said Pingree in his request.

Access to Waterfront an Issue on Notre Dame Road

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Discussion continued at the Sag Harbor Village Board meeting on Tuesday, June 8 over whether or not a strip of waterfront land off Notre Dame Road in Sag Harbor belongs to adjacent property owners Sarah and Mathew Hastings or was meant to provide village residents access to the water.

Despite the ongoing nature of the issue, discourse between the trustees and Tim McCully, the Hastings’ attorney, was undeniably heated.

McCully appeared in front of the board on the Hastings’ behalf and urged a speedy resolution of the issue so that the Hastings could proceed with their building plans to demolish their current residence and rebuild a new structure on the property, using the aforementioned strip.

Whether or not the Hastings can use this strip of land changes the number of variances they will need for the new construction, and the placement of their new septic system.

To this the trustees responded that they would protect citizens’ right to access the waterfront “vigorously,” if necessary. As Trustee Tiffany Scarlato noted in a previous meeting, if the land is village property it should rightfully be left public under the Local Water Revitalization Plan (LWRP), which requires the village to protect and encourage access to the waterfront.

Village trustees have also maintained that while McCully was able to obtain a quit claim deed to the sliver of land from descendents of the original property owner, it is the village’s position that the property was always meant to be an access to water, similar to other access points in the neighborhood.

It was not only in the Sag Harbor Municipal Building that the topic was debated, however. Mayor Brian Gilbride noted the village has received word from a neighbor concerned with the fact that the Hastings have retained the deed to the sliver of land and are seeking ownership of the parcel. This was the first correspondence from neighbors supporting the village’s decision to fight the Hastings to keep the property open for public access.

The letter, from Victor Behoriam and Darlene Miller, states that allowing the Hastings to continue with their plans using the strip of land would “set a precedent that future boards of trustees may be unable to afford to resist.” Behoriam and Miller’s letter describes the land as rightfully belonging to “taxpaying landowners in this village” who should all share equal access to the waterfront, and confidently offers to gather the voices of other residents from the area who would also “vociferously oppose this request.”

Local Attorney Sues Sag Harbor Village Over Justice Court

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Sag Harbor attorney Patricia Weiss has sued the Village of Sag Harbor over the village’s creation of the elective office of village justice and the appointed position of acting village justice.

This is not the first time Weiss has filed suit against the village in connection to the justice court. In 2006, she was successful in halting the creation of a village justice court, after the New York State Supreme Court ruled the village had not officially passed a resolution creating the court. Last fall, village officials revived talks about creating a court in Sag Harbor and in May took the first step in that process by creating the position of village justice after six months of public hearings.

In a suit filed with the United States District Court’s East District clerk this week, Weiss charges that the creation of the positions, both of which can be filled by individuals who are non-lawyers and who have not been law-trained and yet can nevertheless incarcerate persons coming before a Sag Harbor Village Justice court, is a violation of Weiss’s constitutional rights.

Weiss argues that under New York State law, legislation has yet to be adopted that would ensure the positions were filled by law-trained attorneys, and while the elected term for village justice would be four years, the state only provides training for two weeks per year, with a limited bit of unsupervised home-study.

Such limited training is inadequate for the functions of Village Justice, writes Weiss.

Weiss argues the creation of a less adequate justice court in Sag Harbor, when the town courts have the resources and training to handle cases currently, deprives her of her constitutional rights.

She also charges in creating the office of justice this May, the village deliberately selected a date that would be out of sync with village elections, depriving the electorate the right to at least one elected village justice. Weiss states that the village and county’s registers for recent elections are outdated, making it impossible for a resident to collect the necessary 20 percent of village resident signatures required to force an election on the establishment of village justice. She also charges the village does not intend to properly finance or house the proposed justice court and that the use of the Municipal Building as a justice court could compromise the structural integrity of the historic building.

All of these charges, says Weiss, are violations of her constitutional rights.

Weiss asks the court to prohibit the village from making judicial appointments or accepting nominating petitions from non-lawyers while her case is being heard, and if successful asks the court to demand any justice for the village court be law-trained, and elected by village voters. She also asks the village provide an “accurate list of registered voters in the village who are still residents and eligible to vote and have voted in the last gubernatorial or presidential election” and allow her 30 days to gather signatures to force a vote on the creation of village justice.

On Wednesday, Weiss declined to comment on the case, except to say the “matter is now in the very capable hands of judge Joseph Bianco.”

Village officials, however, were not so mum.

“We had ample public hearings and at no point, other than when

Marshall Garypie spoke, did Patty or anyone else for that matter, make any comments about this,” said Sag Harbor Village Mayor Brian Gilbride. “This is going to cost the village money to defend and maybe that is her goal. It’s sad that she had the chance to speak in a public process. She chose not to do that and instead inflict monetary pain on the residents of Sag Harbor.”

Deputy mayor Tiffany Scarlto echoed the sentiment, adding many of the issues Weiss has raised are constitutional issues with state law, not village law, and that she expects the state attorney general’s office will get involved with the case.

“The biggest disappointment, personally, is that the village is going to once again have to expend a great deal of money to defend a lawsuit that is unnecessary and for all intents and purposes is about state law,” said Scarlato.

Before Cuts, Sag Harbor Village Budget Up Six Percent

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Plugging the wish lists of the Sag Harbor Village Board of Trustees and those of all the department heads into the next year’s draft budget would result in a six percent spending increase over last year’s approved budget, according to village treasurer Eileen Touhy.

But following a worksession on Friday, Sag Harbor Mayor Brian Gilbride said the board would pare down the tax increase before the budget is formally presented to taxpayers. Gilbride also said the village would look into ways to increase revenues, including through the possible expansion of Long Wharf.

The nearly $8 million draft spending plan includes $104,350 to fund the creation and staffing of a proposed village justice court. Other big-ticket items on the wish list include $250,000 for a new boat for the fire department and a $100,000 increase in the contingency account to a total of $120,000 that Gilbride said was being set aside to cover repairs to the various municipal buildings.

Sag Harbor fire chief Robert Mitchell has also applied for a grant from Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for the replacement of the department’s air packs, which would cost between $320,000 and $390,000. But the chief has yet to hear whether the grant will be awarded to Sag Harbor; if the village budgets for the expenditure, it will no longer be in contention for the grant.

Touhy explained that both the boat and the packs, if budgeted, would come out of the village’s capital reserve fund, which the budget pays down annually.

The chief said the department currently has four different kinds of packs which could present a safety hazard should a volunteer grab the wrong canister. Only 12 of the packs, he said, are from 2007, and neighboring fire districts are already using an even higher standard of air pack.

“I’ve got some bottles from the 1970s still,” he said.

While the state has been handing out grants to other fire departments, a grant award could come as late as October. Board members Tiffany Scarlato and Robby Stein said the trustees should reach out to New York State Senator Charles Schumer to see whether Sag Harbor is a likely candidate, or whether trustees should consider budgeting the expense.

Expansion of Long Wharf?

Looking at a $50,000 shortfall in revenues from the village’s harbors and docks, Gilbride said the board had looked at possibly raising the cost for resident slips in the village, but discovered Sag Harbor’s rates were on par with what other municipalities charge.

However, after consulting with former mayor and village trustee John Ward, Gilbride said he would like to consider expanding dockage at Long Wharf to boost revenues. After consulting with village attorney Fred W. Thiele, Jr., Gilbride said he believed the village could obtain state permits for the expansion, which would add two fingers to Long Wharf. The village needed to plan, and price, the project, he added before moving forward.

Gilbride also mentioned he would consider renting the west side of Long Wharf for a few more weekends than the board has already approved. At the request of the Harbor Committee, they allowed one yacht to lease the space for holiday weekends, leaving the west side open to the public the remainder of the season. Harbor Master Bob Bori said the village could see an additional $20,000 in revenue if they allowed yachts to lease additional weekends on the west side.

The board empowered Bori to advertise for the rental of the west side of Long Wharf as well as for the village’s transient docks, which now accept advance booking.

“A lot of people don’t know we are taking reservations for transient slips, which we have never done before,” he said. “This way they know when they are coming from Connecticut that they have a slip waiting for them in Sag Harbor.”

MTA Payroll Tax

Sag Harbor Village is also anticipating spending just over $10,000 to cover its share of the Metropolitan Transit Authority payroll tax, although Touhy noted there is state legislation pending that would reduce the cost of the tax on Long Island and other counties outside the five boroughs of New York City. That legislation would reduce the amount of tax on businesses and municipalities in outer counties from $0.34 to $0.17 per $100 of payroll while increasing the tax in the boroughs to $.054 per $100 of payroll.

In addition, New York State Senator Kenneth LaValle and state assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr. have joined assemblyman Marc Alessi of Wading River in co-sponsoring legislation that may create the Peconic Bay Regional Transit Authority, which would replace the MTA on the East End, on November’s ballot.

Law enforcement is looking at a two-percent increase as currently budgeted, which includes the addition of a 13th police officer. Sag Harbor Village Police Chief Thomas Fabiano said most of the other increases in his department were contractual in nature. Three years ago, New York State issued a report on the Sag Harbor Village Police Department that said the department should increase its police force by two officers. The addition of this officer will still leave the department one shy of that recommendation.

The police department, fire department and volunteer ambulance department have all seen the cost of radio dispatch raised this year, although volunteer ambulance president Ed Downes noted his department has seen an estimated $14,147 increase for their dispatch alone to a total of $95,353.

All three departments contract with the Village of East Hampton for the service, as does the Bridgehampton Fire Department. The village’s police dispatch is estimated to rise from $41,071 to $45,960 and the fire department’s from $39,762 to $41,790.

“How do they come up with these figures,” asked Trustee Scarlato.

While Downes said the figure is supposed to be based on calls, he believes his department actually saw a decrease in the number of calls it received this year.

Village Clerk Sandra Schroeder said she would reach out to East Hampton Village’s administrator Larry Cantwell about the figures and ask about the formula they use to calculate the cost.

The next Sag Harbor Village Board of Trustees meeting on the draft budget will be held on Friday, March 26 at 4 p.m.

Sag Harbor Village Budget Expected to Increase as Board Debates Department Wish Lists

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As Sag Harbor Trustees kick off their budget talks, the village is

looking at an estimated 1.39 percent tax increase over last year’s

$8,091,169 spending plan, $567,454 of which came from the village’s

sewer tax. However, with just one meeting behind them, the board is

considering several capital projects and vehicle purchases that could

push that increase even higher.

Not yet added to the proposed budget are hopes for the creation of a

village justice court, addressing erosion on West Water Street,

improvements to Sag Harbor’s historic Municipal Building, the

purchase of a new fire rescue boat and air packs for the Sag Harbor

Volunteer Fire Department and monies to fund the creation of a public

park between the L/Cpl Jordan Haerter Veterans Memorial Bridge and

the parcel known as Ferry Road.

On Tuesday, February 23 the board convened its first of several

planned budget meeting, speaking with department heads, village

treasurer Eileen Tuohy and trustees about their hopes for the next

fiscal year.

“Health insurance costs have gone up as they have everywhere else,”

said Touhy. “Other than that everything is pretty level with what was

spent last year.”

Sag Harbor Mayor Brian Gilbride said a priority this year will be to

budget monies to deal with erosion on West Water Street, where the

beachfront adjacent to the street loses more and more ground with

each storm.

Language exists in village approval for luxury condos on West Water

Street that discusses that developer’s role in the design and

implementation of a waterfront walkway across the street from the

site, where the erosion is occurring. However, the New York

Department of Environmental Conservation balked at any plan that

would disrupt the wetlands, preferring any walkway be constructed on

the streetscape, requiring re-engineering of the roadway, and a

possible loss of parking spaces.

On Tuesday, Gilbride said he was unsure what course of action the

village would take, but said at the very least it needs to

immediately address the eroding beachfront, while examining a long

range capital plan for the area.

Secondly, he said he would like to see old plans for a park next to

the village bridge revitalized, although costs for that project are

not expected to be unveiled until the board’s next budget meeting on

March 12 at 4 p.m.

Trustees are also considering a Sag Harbor justice court, a move

strongly supported by village police chief Tom Fabiano. According to

Gilbride, the estimated $100,000 needed to kick off that venture has

yet to be factored into the next budget and more solid figures will

be available at next month’s meeting.

Sag Harbor Volunteer Fire Department Chief Robert Mitchell requested

some of the largest departmental expenditures of the evening, seeking

monies to replace the department’s 53 air packs, which may cost

between $320,000 and $390,000.

“All the departments around us have been getting updated packs and we

have been using their orphans,” said Mitchell of his department.

While they had sought a grant to cover the cost, Mitchell said they

have yet to hear a response.

Mitchell noted they also have had issues with their fire rescue boat,

purchased in 1994, which has stress cracks, is water logged and needs

to have its engine replaced this summer. That, said Mitchell, could

cost anywhere from $150,000 to $500,000. The vessel is mainly used

for rescue operations, in the event of boat fires and other

waterfront areas fire department vehicles cannot reach and is used by

the dive team. After the meeting, Gilbride said he would look at

capital reserves to see what the village could afford to spend on the

new boat.

In the police department, Chief Fabiano said he tried to keep his

budget in line with last year’s spending plan. In what he has already

submitted to the village, the chief is asking for another full time

officer as well as a vehicle. Sag Harbor also needs to add live scan

technology to its police department, which allows for digital

fingerprinting, although Fabiano said the county and the state will

cover a majority of the cost, except for about $900 a year in


The Sag Harbor Volunteer Ambulance Corps also needs a new vehicle,

but due to its reserve fund, the expense will not affect the village

budget. According to President Eddie Downes, he does need to replace

a first responder vehicle, but will be able to do so through the

department’s $144,000 reserve fund. The vehicle will cost roughly

$42,000 and the reserve fund will be replenished by any sale of the

old first responder.

Superintendent of Public Works Jim Early said his only major

equipment replacement would be a chipper, for $27,000. The current

one, he said, is so old parts are not available to repair it. Harbor

Master Bob Bori added he needs about $10,000 to repair Long Wharf and

the village’s B and transient docks.

“Every year since I have been here I would love to do something

here,” said Gilbride of the Municipal Building, which has empty third

and fourth floors that are not weight bearing or handicap accessible.

Early said the exterior of the building is also in need of repair.

As for Havens Beach, for which the village is exploring a remediation

plan, trustees said they felt a final plan may be a budget year off

and said they would wait for final testing results before choosing a

course of action.

Sag Harbor Community Rowing Hopes for Dock

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This kind of e-mail was the reason why Lee Oldak founded Sag Harbor Community Rowing in the first place.

Billy Boyce, the assistant heavyweight crew coach at Yale University, reached out to Oldak this week after learning that Pierson sophomore Bo Dermont had taken first place in the heavyweight novice group of the 2,000-meter indoor Erg rowing event in Riverhead in January.

Boyce said Dermont’s time of 7 minutes and 8 seconds was “not bad” for a novice sophomore and asked Oldak to keep him updated on Dermont’s progress since he is now a student Yale would like to keep an eye on.

“We had a letter similar to that from the Columbia University lightweight crew coach last year,” said Oldak at Tuesday’s Sag Harbor Village Board of Trustees meeting, where he approached the board to renew the public club’s licensing agreement to use Cove Park on Redwood Road in Sag Harbor. Oldak also hopes the village will allow him to construct a modular dock at the site.

Founded in 2008, Sag Harbor Community Rowing this summer will mark its third year at Cove Park. On Tuesday night, Oldak admitted that growth has been slow, but steady and the club’s public programming and work with local schools was at the top of its priorities as a not-for-profit.

“It’s new here,” Oldak said of competitive rowing. “Quite honestly, it has been tough getting kids down there to experience it.”

On Tuesday night, the board of trustees expressed concerns about the public aspect of the club, needing to ensure they are not granting Sag Harbor Community Rowing the use of public land for a private purpose.

Sag Harbor Mayor Brian Gilbride said a dock would go against the village’s original agreement with Oldak, which prohibited any permanent structures at Cove Park. The proposed 75-foot long dock is modular, but would have a fixed 35-foot walkway attached. If the board decided to join Oldak in a petition for the dock with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC), it would need to change its licensing agreement with the rowing club, said village attorney Fred W. Thiele, Jr.

“I think in general, the board has questions about where the organization is and what has happened,” said board member Tim Culver. “As a community rowing thing, I don’t think you will find anyone against that.”

Oldak said the program was set up for local students for the most part, similar to what the Breakwater Yacht Club began for students interested in sailing. In addition to high school and middle school classes in the Sag Harbor School District, as well as The Ross School and the East Hampton School District, Oldak said the club also provides free rowing to the community at large on Tuesdays and Saturdays in season.

What pays for the equipment and training, he added, is the 50-person membership base that pays $250 per year for total access to the club’s equipment and lessons. Through those donations, Oldak said area schools have only needed to provide the club with $1,000 annually for their students to learn the waterfront pastime.

Oldak said the dock would help facilitate launching of the boats, providing greater safety for rowers, their boats and for the surrounding environment. The village’s Harbor Committee, citing the Local Waterfront Revitalization Plan (LWRP), has recommended the trustees move forward with the dock application.

“Although everything you answered tonight has been very good, I don’t know how much the public really sees,” said Gilbride, encouraging Oldak to return to the board next month with details about local students and residents who benefit from Sag Harbor Community Rowing.

Former Trustee Blasts Sag Harbor Justice Court

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Arguing that the current economic climate is the wrong time for Sag Harbor residents to contend with the expense of a village justice court, former village board member Marshall Garypie blasted the current board of trustees for even entertaining the idea.

“I don’t think this village, with the economic times we are in right now, needs another level of government,” argued Garypie. “I have a problem with how this thing will be financed, if there is a real need for it.”

Garypie, the only resident to speak during the village’s first public hearing on the creation of the office of village justice – not the creation of the village justice court – questioned how the village would cover the expense of setting up a court in Sag Harbor. He also wondered how Sag Harbor would contend with parking issues and questioned whether the village has worked hard enough to convince the Town of Southampton to establish a satellite court closer to East End villages like Sag Harbor and Sagaponack, as well as the hamlet of Bridgehampton.

The public hearing, held on Tuesday, February 9, is the first step the village has taken in renewed hope of establishing its own justice court to handle all misdemeanor crimes and violations, which include traffic infractions and village building code violations. The village has sought to create similar courts several times, most recently in 2007, when faced with lawsuits and promises from the Town of Southampton that their court would expand and stay at its Southampton Village location, Sag Harbor officials put their plans on hold.

However, despite the addition of a fourth justice, proceedings have not sped up, argued Sag Harbor Mayor Brian Gilbride, and faced with the relocation of the justice court to Hampton Bays, Sag Harbor Village police officers now spend as much as four hours a day simply traveling to and from court.

On Tuesday night, Garypie argued the concept of a justice court should be placed in the hands of Sag Harbor Village residents, via a referendum. Deputy Mayor Tiffany Scarlato reminded Garypie that the village cannot force a referendum on an issue like the creation of a justice court, which is subject to only a permissive referendum – one brought to village residents by their peers through a petition.

Noting that a majority of villages in the town already have their own justice court, Gilbride said the goal was not to make money, but rather to give more jurisdiction to the village and make it easier on residents who need to go to court to handle violations or misdemeanor crimes.

“Brian, you know how government works,” said Garypie. “Once you get one foot in the door, it escalates.”

He also asked if the village had proof the cost of the court would break even with revenues generated by it.

“I haven’t,” admitted Gilbride, although he said all the figures he has seen shows it would. Scarlato agreed to have a financial analysis completed by the next village board meeting.

“I will tell you, it does create a problem – what we have now,” said Sag Harbor Village Police Chief Tom Fabiano, urging the village to complete its analysis, but also adamant that his department’s time, and therefore village tax dollars, are spending an awful lot of time on the roads in East Hampton and Southampton these days.

In related news, the village was turned down for a state grant that would have enabled them to set up video arraignments in Sag Harbor for Southampton Town court cases.

In other village news, business owner Nada Barry approached the board questioning the planning process for the expansion and restoration of the John Jermain Memorial Library, for which school district voters approved a $10 million referendum this summer.

“The planning process that is going through our boards is much too slow for a couple reasons,” said Barry, citing a lack of quorum at a December planning board meeting. Barry said the delays were costing village taxpayers money ultimately as it is a publicly funded project and could be devastating to the project as a whole.

“I see it as a general problem in the village,” she said.

Village attorney Fred W. Thiele, Jr. said the library has issues with sewage disposal –that their plans call for them to hook up to the village sewage system, which would require the extension of that line, in order for their project to comply with Suffolk County Health Department standards.

“We have spent a fair amount of time working with them to help them expedite the issues that are really Suffolk County Health Department issues that involve us because of the sewer line,” he said.

However, trustees did agree to advertise for alternates for the zoning board of appeals in the wake of Kathy Radziewicz’s resignation, which was accepted with regret, and for the planning board. The ZBA, planning board, harbor committee and historic preservation and architectural review board have all been without alternates for the last year.

Lastly, the board agreed to allow the yacht Kisses to dock on the west side of Long Wharf for 11 days at the end of June into the July 4th weekend and for 11 days in September.

Village Harbor Master Bob Bori suggested suspending the rental of the west side of Long Wharf for the remainder of the summer season.

Sag Harbor to Establish Village Justice

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Following next month’s Sag Harbor Village Board of Trustees meeting, the village will be one step closer to establishing its own justice court, after it holds a public hearing creating the office of village justice.

On Tuesday, January 12 the board introduced the measure, which will be up for public hearing on Tuesday, February 9 at 6 p.m.

“The Board of Trustees of the Village of Sag Harbor has determined that it will be in the interest of the health, safety and welfare of the residents of the Village of Sag Harbor for the village to have its own justice court to adjudicate local traffic, criminal and building and zoning matters,” reads the public hearing notice.

With the creation of the office of village justice, the board would seek to have one justice elected and one appointed only to serve when the elected judge was unavailable. The elected village justice would serve a four-year term. With the acting justice appointed on a yearly basis with compensation for both justices to be decided as the village enters its budget hearings later this winter.

In related news, the board of trustees agreed to sign a contract with the Town of Southampton to handle traffic tickets in the village with the stipulation they could cancel the contract should Sag Harbor officially create its own justice court.

According to Sag Harbor Mayor Brian Gilbride, Sag Harbor is ending its fiscal year in healthy shape with a “reasonable” surplus, although he added village administrator Sandra Schroeder will be looking into grants to ensure Sag Harbor has enough money to handle snow removal throughout the winter following the blizzard in December and subsequent storms.

According to the auditing report, compiled by Lundy & Co. CPA’s, the village’s financial management and estimates have been reasonable, but the firm has made recommendations as Sag Harbor trustees enter their budgetary talks for the 2010-2011 fiscal year.

Among the recommendations are that the board adopt an annual investment policy, that the village adopt formal policies for cell phone use and employee seminars and that trustees adopt a formal fraud policy, although none of the suggestions were tied to specific behavior by village employees but made simply as a precautionary measure.

Accessory Apartments

After only receiving, and granting, one request to legalize an existing, attached accessory apartment as a new village measure to increase the stock of affordable units in Sag Harbor, board members are considering expanding the law to allow separate, existing accessory units under the law.

According to trustee Tiffany Scarlato, the board should also look at beefing up code enforcement for all illegal accessory units in the village.

“There are safety issues and there are tax issues,” said board member Robby Stein.

Scarlato said she would reach out to Sag Harbor village attorney Anthony Tohill and Sag Harbor village planning consultant Richard Warren to discuss the possible change, which was looked at when the village re-wrote its zoning code last year.

“There are a lot of issues that go along with that,” she said of allowing accessory units that are not attached to a main residence.

“Maybe it is time to nudge,” said Gilbride about increasing code enforcement in the village.

“We are not that stupid that we don’t know they are out there,” said Scarlato.

Resident and business owner Nada Barry wondered what incentives were being offered to those looking to legalize units, noting cost can become a factor when bringing an apartment up to code.

“Maybe they would come forward if they knew there was help,” she said.

Scarlato noted that the Sag Harbor Community Housing Trust, while currently without monies, but with credit, was designed to provide that assistance.

“My view is they are using something they are not supposed to be using,” added trustee Tim Culver. “So why are we subsidizing them?”

In other village news, the board announced that Grievance Day will be held in the Municipal Building on February 16 from 1 to 5 p.m. for any Sag Harbor Village resident looking to argue their tax bill. The village election will be held on June 15 between noon and 9 p.m. at the firehouse on Brickiln Road.

Lastly, Sag Harbor Village Police Chief Thomas Fabiano was approved to hire Nicholas Samot as a permanent full-time police officer at a salary of $43,040.