By Stephen J. Kotz
Several members of Save Sag Harbor urged the Sag Harbor Planning Board on Tuesday to tread lightly as it reviews a new application to redevelop the Harbor Heights service station.
Speaking for the organization, Hilary Loomis told the board that when the village Zoning Board of Appeals granted a variance for the project last February, allowing a portion of the existing building to be converted into a convenience store, it stipulated that the “existing foundation and walls remain.” Now, the property’s owner, Petroleum Ventures, is calling for a new structure with new walls and roof, she said.
She urged the board to refer the matter back to the ZBA because, she said, replacing the building would remove any pre-existing, nonconforming rights that go with the property, which is a commercial use in a residential zone.
The board began its review of Petroleum Venture’s latest application just two months ago. An earlier effort by the company, which is owned by John Leonard, to redevelop the site was highly controversial. Alter years of review before the planning board and ZBA, it was effectively curtailed by the ZBA when that board granted a single variance allowing a portion of the existing gas station to be used for a 600-square-foot convenience store.
In its new plan, besides the convenience store, the company wants to redevelop a garage, office and customer service area, utility and storage room and two restrooms in the 1,855 –square-foot building. A new 1,244-square-foot garage behind the main building would d remain as is. The plans also call for moving the fueling island to a more central location, away from Hampton Street and under a 15-foot canopy. The number of fuel dispensers would be reduced from eight to six, and two curb cuts would be put in to control access to the site. The plans also call for a new sanitary system and the creation of a 30-foot wide landscaped buffer around its perimeter.
“I think they’ve listened to the public and they’ve listened to the ZBA,” said Richard Warren, the village environmental consultant. When it first reviewed the earlier project, the planning board issued a negative declaration under the State Environmental Quality Review Act, which means it did not require an environmental impact statement. “I don’t see any reason why this board wouldn’t adopt a negative ruling for an amended application,” said Mr. Warren. “I’m hopeful the firestorm that was here before has gone out.”
Before the board can proceed, Mr. Warren said the village engineer, P.W. Grosser Consulting, had requested that the plans show that tank trucks as well as emergency vehicles would be able to negotiate the turning radius in front of the station and that the applicant provide information on site disturbance and drainage. The board also requested Suffolk County Department of Health Services approval.
The planning board asked the ZBA, Harbor Committee and Board of Historic Preservation and Architectural Review to weigh in on the plans last month. Only members of the ARB, who said they were concerned about plans for the canopy and lighting, offered any criticism of the plan.
Planning Board chairman Greg Ferraris said the board would most likely vote to become the “lead agency” on the application, which means it would coordinate its review under SEQRA.
Harbor Edge Condos
Roy Wines, the contractor for the Harbor’s Edge condominiums, which are nearing completion, sought the board’s help in rectifying a problem that has held up the issuance of tax map numbers for the 15 units. The problem is, the village does not have an updated survey showing that the number of units was reduced from a proposed 19 to just 15.
Mr. Wines surmised that the paperwork was not properly updated during the truncated review process, which saw the project come to a halt and a change in both architects and ownership during the financial crisis.
Doris Alvarez, the board’s secretary, said there was “no documents supporting the change from 19 to 15” units in the file.
But board members were amenable to helping out, with Mr. Ferraris telling Mr. Wines the matter would be resolved as soon as he submitted an accurate site plan.