Tag Archive | "Sag Harbor Village Board of Trustees"

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

maintenance.


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.

Looks Like Three for Mayor

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With June elections fast approaching, it’s shaping up to be an interesting campaign season as three prospective candidates have tentatively announced their candidacy for the position of Sag Harbor Village Mayor so far. Current mayor Greg Ferraris, whose term is up in June, told The Express in early February he wouldn’t seek re-election. Also up this June are two village trustee seats, including Ed Deyermond’s position. He, too, said he would not seek re-election. Ed Gregory, who holds the other available trustee seat, is undecided.

 According to Ferraris, one of the chief reasons for his decision to not run again was the amount of time he needed to devote to his mayoral responsibilities while also running an accounting business in recent years.

 “The demands on the position have increased over the three years I have been here, and well over the six years that I have served on the village board,” said Ferraris in February. “[Village] issues have become more complex. The demands on the village board from residents have increased.”

 With the mayoral position up for grabs, the village board might witness a little reshuffling as two Sag Harbor Village Board of Trustee members, Tiffany Scarlato and Brian Gilbride, have announced their intentions to run for mayor — although Gilbride says he hasn’t yet made a formal decision. Also throwing his hat into the ring is Jim Henry, a Sag Harbor attorney, author, business consultant and a 2007 Democratic candidate for Southampton Town Supervisor who recently picked up a petition from village hall and has expressed his intention to run for mayor.

 Scarlato has been on the board of trustees for almost six years, and is serving her third term on the board. Scarlato reported that when she first heard Ferraris would not run again, she “begged” him to reconsider, though he remained steadfast in his decision.

 “After I finished begging him, I decided it was a possibility [for me to run for mayor,]” said Scarlato.

 Currently, Scarlato is an assistant town attorney for East Hampton, though she added she doesn’t believe this will present a conflict of interest should she be elected mayor. Prior to becoming a village trustee, Scarlato said she conducted extensive research to make sure her two positions wouldn’t conflict. Of her interest in becoming mayor, Scarlato added that she has the energy to tackle the position, and ample experience in village affairs. Scarlato was also one of the main village officials who pushed to update the current village zoning code.

 Among the chief concerns for the next mayor, Scarlato said the village budget would be at the top of her priority list should she be elected.

 “I think the biggest issue [for the village right now] is fiscal responsibility,” said Scarlato. “I would focus most of my attention on that. The board as a whole has done a good job to pare down the budget and be as fiscally responsible as possible, but it has to be kept up.”

 Also considering a mayoral run is Sag Harbor Village Trustee Brian Gilbride who has been a mainstay on the village board for the past 15 years, and served as deputy mayor for nearly four years.

 “I am still thinking through it, but I am leaning towards saying yes,” said Gilbride of his mayoral candidacy.

 Aside from being a trustee, Gilbride has worked for the village in many different capacities. In 1966, he was hired by the village as an employee of the highway department, which led to a position with the maintenance department. Previously, Gilbride also served as the chief of the village fire department. He feels that his relationship with the village will help him, if he were to become mayor.

 “I worked with a lot of good people [in the village],” he said. “I have an understanding of how the village works, and I look forward to help continuing the way things are going now.”

 Seven years ago, Gilbride left a position with Norsic, the sanitation services company based on Long Island. As a retiree, Gilbride reports he isn’t “the least bit worried” about the amount of hours the village mayor puts into the position. Of the challenges facing the mayor, however, Gilbride reiterated Scarlato’s belief that fiscal and budgetary issues will be the chief issues the village will face in the coming year.

 “Hopefully the zoning code will be put to bed … Things are a little tough with the economy, but we [the village] are very conservative and started planning a year ago,” said Gilbride.

 Although the other prospective candidate, Jim Henry, hasn’t served on the village board, he has run for town office (Henry lost the 2007 supervisor’s race Linda Kabot), and also has business and economic experience. Henry created the Sag Harbor Group, a consulting firm for technology-based businesses. As an author, Henry has written investigative books on economical mismanagement and also pieces for The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and the Nation, among others. 

 No candidates have stepped forward yet for the two trustee seats.

 In Sag Harbor, prospective mayoral and trustee candidates are permitted to submit signed petitions beginning March 31. The elections will be held on June 16.

 Over the bridge, two North Haven Village trustee seats will be open for election in June. The trustees currently holding the positions are Jeff Sander, a Main Street building owner, and Jim Smyth, the owner of The Corner Bar. In addition, two seats on the Sagaponack Village board will also be up for grabs come June. These seats are currently occupied by Alfred Kelman and Joy Seiger. No candidates have yet come forward to announce their intention to run for the positions in either village.

Above: Photos of Trustee Scarlato, Trustee Gilbride and Jim Henry. 

Questions on New Code Remain

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By Marissa Maier

It was 15 minutes before the public hearing on the proposed new village zoning code, but Sag Harbor’s municipal meeting room was already filled to capacity. Members of Save Sag Harbor and the Sag Harbor Business Association waved to one another as they took their seats. Others talked in huddled groups. When the mayor and village trustees took their seats, the crowd hushed.

It was nearly two years ago that trustee Tiffany Scarlato and mayor Greg Ferraris began exploring a revision of the village code, which was last fully updated in the 1980s.

The code was full of inconsistencies and outdated provisions, said Ferraris. Over the years the code had been amended in a patchwork fashion, added Scarlato. Unprecedented development projects like the proposed condo complex at the Bulova factory and CVS’ purported interest in opening a store in the village has further brought the code issue to the forefront in the community.

Scarlato and Ferraris hired village attorney Anthony Tohill and planning consultant Richard Warren to research planning materials, zoning law and concepts. The final product of their work was compiled in “Planning Strategies for the Incorporated Village of Sag Harbor” a document which became a comprehensive plan for the new village zoning code.

The revised code was officially proposed in the spring of 2008. Since then the code has been revised based on public comments gathered at previous public forums.
At the end of his opening statement on Thursday, January 29, Ferraris said he hoped to facilitate a dialogue between the board and the public. Ted Conklin, a member of the Sag Harbor Business Association and owner of The American Hotel, was the first community member to speak.

“The vision of the future Sag Harbor is not terribly different from one camp to the other … But [the association] believes this code will put small businesses in peril,” said Conklin referencing a document prepared for the group by EEK architects, who studied the new code.

In the report, Stanley Eckstut of EEK cited the 3,000 maximum square footage allowance for ground floor business, codifying permitted retail space uses and hindering office uses on second floors in the village business district as measures that would hurt village economics.

“Creating rules that make it difficult to lease the ground floors for active paying tenants will jeopardize the ability of the buildings to remain financially viable,” wrote Eckstut who also referenced a provision in the code which prohibited creating new offices on the second floor in the VB or Village Business District.

“Restricting the upper floors from accommodating the very uses that are considered objectionable on the ground floor is counterproductive,” wrote Eckstut.

But the board countered Eckstut’s concern by noting that the code will soon be revised and building owners will be permitted to create office or residential space on the second floor of their building, as long as they visit the building department for a new Certificate of Occupancy with the stated use.

Further, board members said that if a retail space is under 3,000 square feet and an owner wants to change from one permitted use to another, the building department will give the owner a waiver to change the use. The owner would not have to visit the planning board, the board noted, because the change doesn’t require a site plan review.

Phil Bucking, whose sister, Lisa Field, runs the Sag Harbor Variety Store, said it would be harder for her to sell the business in the future because the store is over 3,000 square feet.

Ferraris said that if the Variety Store was turned into another permitted use, they would visit the planning board and request a waiver for the site plan review. The waiver would most likely be granted, as long as the change of use didn’t include an expansion, added capacity or required additional parking or sewage usage. These conditions would require a new site plan review of the space.

“Under the proposed code, the process is formalized and streamlined,” said Ferraris following the hearing. “Before, a lot was left up to the building inspector, but now there is a process.”

Conklin asked for the planning board to have a time schedule for applications and site plan reviews, and also a fee cap.

After the meeting, Scarlato said this wouldn’t be feasible because the village doesn’t have in-house planning staff who work on a regular basis. Instead, the village out-sources planning and engineering work.

David Lee, who manages a number of Main Street buildings, spoke out against a provision in the code which he said gave the ARB (Architectural Review Board) the power to review the interiors of retail spaces.

Tohill, however, later read from the code and stated the ARB has no such power.
In an advertisement that appears in this week’s issue of the Express, the Sag Harbor Business Association asks the village to “delay implementing the office district until we know the impact.”

Association member Jeff Sander asked the board to conduct a comprehensive review of the business owner’s specific concerns. A hefty list of business and property owners who are either against the code, or still on the fence, is included in the advertisement.
Save Sag Harbor’s lawyer Jeff Bragman agreed with the business association on the need to permit office and residential uses on the second floor, and congratulated the board on this revision.

“I thought the hearing was very impressive,” said Bragman later. “I think the board has done a good job at incorporating public comment into the code.”

Save Sag Harbor member Robert Stein, however, wished the code was more restrictive in regards to neighborhood density for daycare facilities and bed-and-breakfasts. Recognizing this concern after the hearing, Ferraris said the village was exploring revising this provision of the code. In the current draft of the code, both establishments need to alert neighbors in a 200 foot radius that they will set-up shop. Ferraris, however, proposes changing this to a 500 foot radius.

Despite the many divergent views that have surfaced throughout the code process, several community members spoke out to express a similar vision for Sag Harbor — one in which the village remains a pedestrian friendly, historical and commercially diverse place.

“I think everyone wants the code to be satisfactory for all the parties involved,” said Save Sag Harbor member April Gornick.

The next public hearing on the code will be held Friday, February 13 at 5 p.m. at the municipal building on Main Street.

Bikers’ Uphill Climb

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A heated debate broke out at the end of Tuesday’s Sag Harbor Board of Trustees meeting over the safety of bike riding on Main Street. Trustee Ed Deyermond said a proposal to allow bike travel from the flag pole to Spring Street in the village is “an accident waiting to happen.” Deyermond remained firmly opposed to the idea, and more than half the board agrees with him.

Considering board opposition, it will be an uphill battle for Sag Harbor cyclists to bike down Main Street. During the meeting, Sinead Fitzgibbon, founder of the local bike advocacy group Spokes People, continued to defend her group’s position.
Fitzgibbon stated that cyclists and motorists have equal access to all public roads under a provision of the New York State Vehicle and Traffic Law. In Fitzgibbon’s opinion, the ordinance disallowing bike travel through Main Street is virtually unenforceable.
In an interview after the meeting, Fitzgibbon’s zeal for Main Street bike travel had tempered somewhat. She said her group will continue to explore the option of bike travel along Main Street, but will now focus on creating alternative routes for bike travel along other village streets.
“I totally understand where the board is coming from … I am happy to stir the pot [on this issue] but it is not how I want to deal with the village all the time. I look forward to working with the board,” said Fitzgibbon who believes a compromise with the trustees will be the best option for everyone.
“[The bike routes] have to work for everyone or they are not going to work at all,” she said.
According to Deyermond, a designated bike route along the roads surrounding Main Street is a practical solution in facilitating cyclist access to the village. During the meeting, Deyermond said an addition of a bike lane on Main Street was “out of the question” because of New York State Department of Transportation (DOT) regulations. When Deyermond was village mayor in 2003, he explored allowing bike travel along Main Street as part of his Traffic Calming Project. Representatives of the DOT told him Main Street was too narrow, and the diagonal parking was too problematic, for the installation of a bike lane.
Board member Tiffany Scarlato supports creating a designated village bike route, as long as it does not require additional pavement markings. She believes the village lacks the funds to pay for these markings. Scarlato also said cyclist access to the village has become an inflated issue.
“Southampton Village prohibits biking down Main Street,” said Scarlato who added that this didn’t seem to inconvenience Southampton Village residents. Scarlato believes Sag Harbor cyclists can hop off their bike when they reach the village and wheel their bikes through Main Street. She said she understood Fitzgibbon’s position, but the board has a responsibility to maintain road safety for all of the village residents.
The board urged Fitzgibbon to meet with police chief Tom Fabiano to brainstorm ideas for a designated village bike route. In addition, Fitzgibbon contacted Village Attorney Fred Thiele, Jr., to discuss the legality of the ordinance prohibiting Main Street bike travel. A public hearing date, however, hasn’t been set.

A hot topic also on the agenda was the passing of a local workforce housing law. According to village mayor, Greg Ferraris, New York State mandated last year that all Long Island municipalities adopt the Long Island Workforce Housing Act. Ferraris believes the mandate forces municipalities to address the issue of affordable housing, but Sag Harbor has already incorporated affordable housing legislation into the new village zoning code. When the new zoning code goes into effect, said Ferraris, it will supersede the Long Island Workforce Housing Act.
The Long Island Workforce Housing Act stipulates that any developer seeking to build five or more units would receive a density bonus of at least 10 percent, with all units created through the bonus being affordable workforce units. The developer has three choices for how to meet the affordable housing provision: by providing on-site housing, by building the housing elsewhere, or by paying into an affordable housing fund.
At the meeting, Sag Harbor resident Bill Chaleff commended the state for addressing the need for affordable housing.
“It is no longer possible for us to keep our head in the sand about this issue. Every other municipality needs to do something about this,” said Chaleff.
Of the housing fund payment provision, however, he said “The temptation to use payment as a way out is too strong … Payment should be used as a last resort.”
This provision could potentially allow developers to pocket millions from selling their property, while only a few hundred thousand would end up in the housing trust. Ferraris, however, believes a housing fund is a pragmatic solution considering the cost of development in the village.
A public hearing on the new village code has been scheduled for January 29.
During the meeting, the Sag Harbor Cinema sign was also designated as an historic landmark
Long Isla

Sag Harbor Moves Forward With Permits for Special Events

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Large scale events and parties in the Village of Sag Harbor will likely come under the scrutiny of the board of trustees under a new permit process the board is expected to be adopted next month. A public hearing on the subject last week failed to garner much public disapproval of the plan.

On Wednesday, November 12, the board held a hearing on the proposed law, which would restrict the number of large parties or events an organization or residence can host that boasts 75 people or more. Prohibited and restricted events in the law include those that are largely for profit or if the purpose is to advertise a product with the exception of the sale of local produce, baked goods and food products. Once the law is adopted, people who decide to hold their event without a permit may be subject to a $2,000 fine for the first offense, and as much as $10,000 for the second offense, as well as a year in jail.

Wednesday night’s hearing brought just two residents to the podium for comment, the first of whom was relieved to hear the board had added an exemption clause for events like funerals and weddings at local churches — events that may not be able to meet the deadline for filing for the permit, which is 60 days prior to the event. 

David Cory, a chairperson of the historic committee at the First Presbyterian (Old Whalers’) Church, said his concern was ensuring the law did not have unintended consequences, noting many area churches are in residential areas. In addition to weddings and funerals, many of which bring in more than 75 people per event, said Cory, the Old Whalers’ Church hosts a number of annual events like Hamptons Music Festival concerts, the Sweet Adelines and community Christmas programs, all that bring in a number of community members.

“Our concern is, is the church going to be restricted from what churches have to do,” asked Cory.

“This legislation is not meant to restrict the church or any other non-profit from doing what it is already doing,” said Sag Harbor Mayor Greg Ferraris. Ferraris explained the village has added a provision to the law that provides the opportunity for a waiver through the village clerk with the permission of two trustees for events like funerals and weddings. A more formal waiver process is also in place for those organizations seeking to host more events than allowed per calendar year.

Only one special event permit will be issued per calendar year for parcels in a residential zoning district, according to the draft law, with parcels in all other zoning districts limited to three per calendar year, only one of which can be held at night. Properties owned by not-for-profits or charitable organizations can hold as many as six per year.

Zach Studenroth, director of the Sag Harbor Whaling and Historical Museum, said he wanted to reiterate Cory’s concerns, but added that the Whaling Museum “is making some moves in the direction of exploring the idea of using the property for expanded rental purposes” given the current economic climate.

Studenroth said he did not envision the museum moving towards hosting events that are extreme, but would look at two or three rental events in the backyard, which would be an increased use of the property. Studenroth did not elaborate on what events the museum would consider hosting as a revenue source.

“I don’t think our intention is to have you go through this for the clambake,” said Ferraris, although Trustee Tiffany Scarlato said that she was unsure what rental events Studenroth was alluding to in the future and would therefore be unable to say whether those would fall into a category that would need a permit, or would even be allowed.

“It is important to note that events are looked at on a case by case basis,” said Scarlato. “And the intent of the legislation is there is a review process so the board is aware, the police are aware and the neighbors are aware. I think that is important.”

The board is expected to adopt the new law at its December 9 board meeting.

Assessment

In other news, the board adopted a resolution on Wednesday that formally terminated the village’s role as an assessment body for village property taxes, turning over the reins to the Town of Southampton.

Sag Harbor already contracts with the town to perform its assessments, and according to village trustee and town tax assessor Ed Deyermond, this move is simply an effort to eliminate duplication and overlap in the grievance and assessment process. As is, residents on the Southampton side of the village have their taxes evaluated almost a year and a half apart — and the work of village and town officials is virtually doubled, said Deyermond.

Southampton Town residents in the village will now grieve both their town and village taxes in front of the town assessment board, while East Hampton Town residents will continue to grieve their town taxes in East Hampton and their village taxes in Southampton.

According to Ferraris, the town will continue to provide unofficial assessment advice to village residents in the months leading up to Grievance Day in Sag Harbor.