Tag Archive | "sag harbor village"

John Jermain Memorial Library Eyes Cultural District

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By Kathryn G. Menu

The John Jermain Memorial Library has its eye on a National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) grant for creative placemaking that could lead to the creation of cultural district in the village. The idea would be to connect a group of not-for-profit entities that would be charged with promoting the arts and culture that makes Sag Harbor a special place.

According to Eric Cohen, the library’s technology and multi-media coordinator who is spearheading this initiative, the library intends to apply for the grant in 2014. In order to be successful, the library – which intends to be the lead agent in the application process – needs the support of the Village of Sag Harbor, which must partner with JJML in this endeavor.

During Tuesday night’s Sag Harbor Village Board of Trustees meeting, Cohen gave a presentation on the grant proposal. He said the library will make formal application to the village later next year as it moves closer to filing its request with the NEA.

While the proposal is still in the conceptual phase and something Cohen said village residents will be asked to weigh in on in a substantive way, at its core is the creation of a Sag Harbor Village Cultural District encompassing geography around five entities – Canio’s Books, JJML, the Sag Harbor Whaling and Historical Museum, the Sag Harbor Custom House and the Sag Harbor Historical Society.

“The point of the cultural district is an acknowledgement of what already exists in Sag Harbor,” said Cohen Tuesday night. “It is also a mechanism for Sag Harbor’s cultural institutions to work together for the benefit of ourselves and community.”

Cohen said ultimately the idea is to strengthen the community and make it a more desirable place to live, but also the district would serve as an economic engine, attracting more visitors to Sag Harbor specifically because of its arts and culture.

While ideas have yet to be solidified, Cohen said over the course of the next year, joint programming between these not-for-profit organizations will be devised as a first step towards making the cultural district a reality.

The NEA grant, which JJML Director Catherine Creedon discovered while looking at different grant opportunities for the library, is for creative placemaking – a personal passion of Cohen’s.

According to the NEA, in creative placemaking “partners from public, private, nonprofit, and community sectors strategically shape the physical and social character of a neighborhood, town, tribe, city or region and arts and cultural activities. Creative placemaking animates public and private spaces, rejuvenates structures and streetscapes, improves local business viability and public safety, and brings diverse people together to celebrate, inspire and be inspired.”

Grant funding ranges from $25,000 to $200,0000, depending on the project. Cohen said projects within the grant could be as simple as creating a needed dance studio space or sponsoring a series of outdoor art exhibits. Creating a cultural district is also one of the initiatives supported by the grant.

“We want the community to help us plan this together,” said Cohen.

Police Debate Continues

While the Village of Sag Harbor and the Sag Harbor Police Benevolent Association (PBA) have made little headway in negotiations for a new police contract, on Tuesday night resident Robert Turner urged the board to find some way to agree to a contract with the PBA and discouraged any discussion about using an outside agency to police Sag Harbor Village.

Turner said one of the reasons he and his wife moved to Sag Harbor was because it had everything they were looking for in a village — including a local police force.

He also suggested that figures detailing salaries of officers and the original 4.5 percent request for a salary increase made by the PBA did not go far enough in showing residents what the actual impact on their taxes would be if that contract was approved.

“What is the assessed value cost in this contract as opposed to the old contract,” he asked.

Sag Harbor Mayor Brian Gilbride said the last contract was for five years and gave officers over that period a 26 percent increase in pay, with even larger increases for night differentials and longevity.

According to Mayor Gilbride, he expects the contract dispute will likely move to binding arbitration.

In other village news, the board accepted the formal resignation of Sag Harbor Village Zoning Board of Appeals Chairwoman Gayle Pickering, with regrets, and appointed board member Anton Hagen as the board’s new chairman effective immediately.

The board also accepted the resignation of Sag Harbor Village Historic Preservation and Architectural Review Board member Michael Mensch.

In a letter to the village board, Mensch cited personal and professional reasons for his resignation.

“I have enjoyed the position and my fellow members immensely, and hope in the future I can be recommended again,” said Mensch.

Sag Harbor Planning Board Looks at 125 Main Street, Provisions & Harbor Heights

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By Kathryn G. Menu

It has been almost three years since local real estate developer James Giorgio proposed to raise and rebuild the historic commercial property at 125 Main Street in Sag Harbor. Now, with a public hearing on the project scheduled for next month, it appears an end and an approval are finally within site.

On Tuesday, October 23 the Sag Harbor Village Planning Board heard a presentation on the project from Giorgio’s architect, Chuck Thomas.

The project involves removing two additions off the rear of the building facing Church Street, lifting the remainder of the building and putting a new foundation under it. The building, constructed sometime in the 1750s, has basically no foundation to speak of and is sitting in dirt. After the new foundation is installed, Thomas said the plan is to reframe whatever is necessary within the historic structure and restore the building, removing aluminum siding and replacing it with wood, restoring the windows and building a new, wood roof.

The additions which would be removed in the beginning of the process would be rebuilt in kind, added Thomas.

The building will continue to host a retail use on the first floor, with an apartment on the second floor.

“We are going to make it look like it should look,” said Thomas.

The project has tentatively received two variances from the Sag Harbor Village Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA). One allows landscaping of 16.62 percent of the property as opposed to the 20 percent required under village code and the other allows the inclusion of eight parking spaces where nine are required in the code.

The ZBA, however, was not amenable to allowing Giorgio to construct the second floor apartment at just 564 square-feet where a minimum of 800 square-feet is required. On Tuesday, Thomas said the apartment would meet code.

Thomas said he hoped to get started on construction this winter. A public hearing on the project will be held at the board’s November 27 meeting.


   Accessory Apartment Approved

On Tuesday night, Juan Castro became the third Sag Harbor resident approved for an accessory apartment since the Sag Harbor Village Board of Trustees first adopted a law in 2009 allowing a maximum of 50 residents to legalize apartments within their primary residences.

Apartments must meet building and fire codes and the Suffolk County Health Department must also sign off on the apartment, meaning applicants must show they have an adequate septic system to handle the increase in density.

The 650 square-foot apartment is located in the bottom floor of Castro’s Brandywine Drive residence.

   Provisions Expansion Stalls

While Provisions Natural Foods Market & Organic Café has already received planning board approval to expand partially into the adjacent space most recently used by the Style bar, it has approval to do so sans approximately 200 square-feet of the Style bar space. If Provisions uses that space it will officially expand beyond 3,000 square-feet, which under the village code triggers the requirement for a market research study on the necessity of expanding the store as well as consideration of providing some kind of affordable housing relief.

In order to avoid those requirements, Provisions’ attorney Dennis Downes secured the company approval for an expansion, walling off that 200-square-foot space. But after gaining planning board approval, Downes approached the Sag Harbor Village Zoning Board of Appeals for relief from the market study, which he estimates will cost $10,000, and the affordable housing provision, which would allow Provisions to expand into the full 777 square-foot space.

While the ZBA was amenable to the idea in September, this month Sag Harbor Village Attorney Denise Schoen said she does not believe the ZBA has a right under the village code to offer that kind of relief. Schoen said case law permits the ZBA to grant area variances — those that deal with physical space like a setback — but not variances for other requirements for a special permit.

Downes is reviewing that case law and the matter will be revisited at the ZBA’s November 20 meeting.

Lastly, John Leonard’s proposal to expand the Harbor Heights Service Station to include a convenience store was formally given a negative declaration under the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA). That proposal will now move into the hands of the ZBA, which will ultimately decide the fate of the project, ruling on close to half a dozen variances including one that will allow Leonard to construct a store almost twice the size of what is allowed under the village code.

That proposal will also be discussed at the ZBA’s November 20 meeting.


West Water Street Developers File for Chapter 11 on the Defunct Condo Property

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It has been over three years since East End Development, LLC — the team of developers behind the now defunct condominium project at 21 West Water Street — have paid workers to complete any work at the 19-unit building.

It has sat, more than half way finished for years, a large box of tiles on one of the building’s balconies unmoved, slowly disintegrating to literal dust.

Last week, the future of that project was dealt another blow.

On October 12, East End Development, LLC filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy in United States Eastern District Bankruptcy Court. Emil Talel is listed as the managing member of the LLC, with Michael Maiden and Terry Soderberg also listed as co-debtors in the filing.

According to a copy of the filing, East End Ventures debt associated with the 21 West Water Street property is estimated at $35,344,415.89. The filing states that East End Ventures assets include the half finished 21 West Water Street condominium building, which they value at $27,300,000.

The only other asset listed in East End Ventures documentation is $206.53 in a JP Morgan Chase Bank account.

The 1, 3 and 5 Ferry Road parcel, which the same developers unsuccessfully attempted to develop into condos under East End Ventures LLC — a case that resulted in a lawsuit between the firm and the Village of Sag Harbor — is not listed as one of the company’s assets as it was managed under its own limited liability corporation.

Twenty-six mechanics’ liens are listed against the 21 West Water Street property from creditors holding secured claims in the bankruptcy case totaling $34,653,840.52 with an additional $7,353,840.52 in unsecured claims made by the same companies.

The largest mechanic’s lien filed against the property is by the Longview Ultra Construction Loan Fund through Amalgamated Bank — East End Venture’s loan provider. They have filed a $30,484,011 lien on their own.

On Tuesday afternoon, a representative from Amalgamated Bank declined to comment on the Chapter 11 filing.

Several local companies have also been impacted by the project. Bridgehampton Steel & Welding has filed a $76,092 mechanic’s lien, Pristine Pool Construction Corp. has filed a $71,703 mechanic’s lien against the project, Southampton Brick & Tile has filed a $94,340 lien, Southampton-based Squire, Pierson & Sons, Inc. has a $94,239.47 lien and Water Mill Building Supply, Inc. has a lien of $213,949.

Unknown claims may be made from the Internal Revenue Service, the New York State Department of Finance and the New York City Department of Finance, according to the filing.

“Unsecured” and “non-priority claims” amount to $690,575.17, including $11,060 owed to local Sag Harbor attorney Dennis Downes — the attorney who helped secure approval for East End Development for the 21 West Water condominium project. An additional $20,076 is owed to Bridgehampton architect Kathryn Fee, $277,139.94 is owed to RLW4 Construction out of Southampton, and even the Village of Sag Harbor is owed $523.75.

As East End Ventures has filed for Chapter 11, not Chapter 7, it is attempting to reorganize its debt rather than liquidate, although under bankruptcy law Chapter 11 proceedings can move to Chapter 7 proceedings.

However, on Tuesday, Talel remained optimistic that despite the years long delay in getting the project off the ground that it would in fact move forward some time this winter, in part, because East End Development filed for Chapter 11.

“We will settle with everyone involved and negotiate to the best of our abilities,” said Talel. “This will allow us to go back to construction as quickly as possible. Nothing has changed and the project will be completed in an expeditious way.”

The 21 West Water Street condominium project was originally proposed in 2006 and was approved in 2008, with residents and village boards alike largely supporting the project, in large part because the condos would take the place of a nightclub and restaurant just on the edge of a residential district.

The project included 19 condos and a rooftop swimming pool.

While they were gaining its final approvals for 21 West Water Street, Talel and Maiden proposed a condo project at 1, 3, and 5 Ferry Road, under the East End Ventures corporation.

While failing to find support for a number of different versions of that project, in 2009 the village’s zoning code changed, drastically reducing the number of condominium units allowed on the Ferry Road parcel and requiring affordable housing be worked into the project.

In September of that year, Talel and East End Ventures filed a $30 million damages suit against the village as well as an Article 78 suit, claiming they were led to believe the project would be exempt from the new code, similar to the approved condominium project at the former Bulova Watchcase Factory.

While both suits would ultimately be dismissed in 2011, as of fall 2009 workers were already walking off the job at 21 West Water Street for non-payment and by July of 2010 there were over $3 million in liens recorded with the Suffolk County Clerk’s office against the property.

According to the Chapter 11 filing completed earlier this month, Amalgamated Bank has already begun foreclosure proceedings against East End Development, which is still in court.

For Sag Harbor Mayor Brian Gilbride, after three and a half years of watching the 21 West Water Street building fall further and further into decline, he said he was not optimistic about the project’s future. But at the end of the day he hopes someone resurrects the project to protect that section of the village from further blight.

“There is not a day I walk into Schiavoni’s that someone doesn’t ask me about this,” said Gilbride.

Traffic Roundtable Convened to Address Safety

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While the number of traffic related fatalities in East Hampton and Southampton towns did not break any records this summer season, for many, including Sag Harbor Volunteer Ambulance Corps President Ed Downes, the roads on the East End felt busier — and more dangerous.

And for the most part, the general consensus among emergency service workers, government officials and law enforcement is much of the danger felt on roadways this summer stems from a general lack of concentration by drivers.

Distracted and aggressive, fast driving was largely blamed for the spate of accidents this summer by local government officials, law enforcement and volunteers who met at the first gathering of the South Fork Highway Safety Roundtable at the Hampton Library in Bridgehampton last Thursday afternoon.

According to New York State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr. — who organized the forum with New York State Senator Ken LaValle — about 30 local officials attended the event, including the Suffolk County Medical Examiners Officer and the New York State Department of Transportation.

“Clearly the response all of us have heard in our offices — this feeling that there were a lot of accidents this summer and very serious ones at that,” said Thiele on Tuesday. “And while according to the statistics it does not appear accidents are way up, people do feel less safe on the roads so this is a public safety concern.”

Both East Hampton and Southampton town police departments had four fatalities related to traffic accidents this year, as well as a series of other accidents that were serious, although not fatal in nature.

While texting was not proven in these cases to have caused an accident, both police chiefs attributed many of the accidents to distraction, intoxication and aggressive driving all occurring on small roads not designed to handle the influx of cars in the summer, said Thiele.

Downes, who was fighting a fire in Southampton at the time of the meeting, but plans to stay involved in the roundtable group, said he believes driver distraction in general is at the root of increases in accidents. He said education is critical moving forward to create safer roads.

“People just don’t seem to be thinking when they are driving,” said Downes. “All of the accidents we went to this year, it wasn’t because of a bad roadway, it was because a driver made a mistake. People need to be more aware of what they are doing and where they are when they are behind the wheel.”

According to Thiele, education will be one of three major issues addressed by the roundtable this fall, winter and spring, with the goal of implementing programing and projects in advance of the next summer season.

The roundtable broke into three sections, said Thiele. Engineering to look at road improvements that could increase safety, Enforcement to address what can be done from a law enforcement perspective and Education to make drivers aware of the impact distracted or aggressive driving can have on the safety of our roads.

In terms of education, Thiele said that public service announcements about the dangers of texting and drinking while driving was important, but so was communication from town officials and police departments about lengthy road closures when an accident occurs.

From an engineering perspective, Thiele said the group discussed putting lit crosswalks — similar to the ones installed in East Hampton Village — in Bridgehampton and Water Mill to increase safety.

Red light cameras were also discussed said Thiele. Suffolk County already has 50 in place and is about to include 50 more into its program, although Thiele noted none currently have been placed on East End roadways. Speed cameras — where drivers are sent a ticket in the mail after being caught speeding by a camera in certain corridors — were also discussed, though Thiele noted the New York State Legislature would have to pass legislation to allow those cameras to be used in New York.

Thiele said for now, the plan is for each of the three working groups to continue to get together during the winter with the goal of drafting a final report with recommendations on how to increase traffic safety. That report, said Thiele, will then be shared with the public who can also weigh in with their ideas.

“I think the goal would be to implement as many recommendations as we can before Memorial Day of next year,” said Thiele, noting anything requiring a major capital improvement or approval from the state legislature will likely take longer to get off the ground.

“But I think other things, like the crosswalks, coordinated enforcement or education programs are possible by this summer,” he said.

Sag Harbor Village Adopts Police Retirement Incentive in Effort to Curb Officer Numbers

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By Kathryn G. Menu

In what Sag Harbor Village Mayor Brian Gilbride called “a first step” in paring down the cost of the Sag Harbor Village Police Department, on Friday afternoon the village’s board of trustees adopted a resolution giving them authority to offer a retirement incentive package to the department’s officers as well as police chief Thomas Fabiano.

According to a memorandum outlining the incentive program, Chief Fabiano and all full-time, active members of the department who are currently eligible to retire, or have completed 10 or more years of service in the New York State Police and Firefighters Retirement System as a full time employee of the village, excluding leaves of absences, are eligible for the incentive offer.

In addition to any benefits already accrued, any officer who is eligible and accepts retirement at this time will be paid $1,000 for each completed year of continuous full-time service as of the effective day of their retirement.

Anyone interested in the program, must complete paperwork and give it to the Village of Sag Harbor by November 30, 2012. Anyone who chooses to retire through this program will have to retire no later than December 31, 2012.

The decision to offer the retirement incentive to the department’s 11 officers and the chief comes as Sag Harbor Village Trustees are entertaining the concept of allowing an outside police agency the ability to provide some of the village’s police services. The village has received proposals from the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Office, as well as East Hampton and Southampton towns.

On Friday, trustee Ed Gregory wondered whether the loss of officers — if any do in fact take the retirement incentive offer — would result in more overtime costs for the village.

Gilbride said he believes the department may be overstaffed, particularly during the winter months.

“If none take it, I think we should lay off a few people for the winter and move on,” he said, noting that between June, July, August and the first two weeks of September approximately 150 sick, personal or vacation days were taken off by members of the police department.

“In the busiest time of the year, that we can take 150 days off — that tells me a lot,” said Gilbride.

ARB’s Scope Preserved

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On Tuesday night, the Sag Harbor Village Board amended its code to read specifically that the village’s historic preservation and architectural review board (ARB) should have jurisdiction to require a certificate of appropriateness for every action requiring a building permit both within and outside the historic district in Sag Harbor.

The decision was unanimous by all four members of the board. The fifth seat on the board remains empty since the resignation of board member Tim Culver.

According to Sag Harbor Village Attorney Fred W. Thiele, Jr., the ARB has always enjoyed having full jurisdiction over the whole village. But after a zoning code revision, that jurisdiction was called into question by Sag Harbor Village Building Inspector Tim Platt who said the new code did not specifically grant the ARB the authority to review projects outside the historic district.

On Tuesday night, Thiele noted that when the new code was drafted it contained language directing the ARB how it should look at projects both in and outside of the historic district making the intent of the code clear when it was adopted in 2009.

Sag Harbor Trustees Push Forward Plans for Outside Police Services

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Any question about whether or not the Sag Harbor Village Board of Trustees was bluffing as a means of strong-arming the Sag Harbor Police Benevolent Association (PBA) into a contract agreement when it talked about looking elsewhere for police services was answered on Friday morning.

After a two-hour executive session on Friday, the trustees voted 3-1 to authorize Sag Harbor Village attorney Fred W. Thiele, Jr. and the village’s labor attorney Vincent Twomey to draft an early retirement incentive package for eligible village police officers. In addition, they were instructed to draft an inter-municipal agreement between the Village of Sag Harbor and the Suffolk County Sheriff’s office for police service.

Trustee Kevin Duchemin voted against the resolution.

In an exploratory fashion, Thiele will now begin to look at what other municipalities have done in terms of shared police services.

“To say there are a lot of details and issues out there would be an understatement,” said Thiele on Wednesday. “Really, this is the village doing its due diligence and examining the legal issues involved.”

Thiele acknowledged that if the village board tells him to strike a deal with the Suffolk County Sheriffs’ office he is authorized to do so, but that “we have not proceeded far enough for that to happen yet.”

What has happened, however, is it does appear that the sheriff’s have edged out East Hampton and Southampton Town Police Departments as the favored candidate for sharing police services.

This summer, facing a stalled contract negotiation with the PBA, the village board asked all three agencies to submit proposals to provide police services in the village.

Village police officers have been working without a new contract for more than a year.

On Monday, Sag Harbor Mayor Brian Gilbride said the village has received proposals from the sheriffs as well as East Hampton Town, but not from Southampton Town. He said the Suffolk County Sheriffs have currently offered the most competitive proposal.

The contents of the proposal have not been made public.

According to Mayor Gilbride, the Sheriffs have stated — in writing — that they could provide two police officers and cars for all shifts in Sag Harbor at a cost of $923,000, far below the over $2 million budget of the Sag Harbor Village Police Department.

However, according to Gilbride, he would like to see the village maintain its police department, but cut the number of officers from 12 to six, having another agency provide police services during the shifts not covered by members of the local department. Gilbride said the sheriff’s office has estimated the village could save between $400,000 and $600,000 annually if it took this route.

The mayor added that negotiations with the PBA, which are in arbitration, have continued to be “unproductive.” Gilbride and trustee Ed Gregory met with PBA President Patrick Milazzo last week, but failed to come to any agreement on a new contract.

“They do a great job and we love these guys, but when looking at these costs it is just a question if such a small village can afford this,” said Gilbride.

For Duchemin, who voted against the resolution, this is not what he believes the residents of Sag Harbor want.

“I can understand where the mayor is coming from,” said Duchemin on Wednesday. “His whole mindset is to save the taxpayers money; but I hear nothing but positive things from the taxpayers about the department and a lot of them are wondering why we would get rid of them.”

Duchemin said one resident even showed him his tax bill and remarked on how little he is paying for comprehensive police services.

The PBA, he added, would never be able to pare down its contract to provide the village with the kind of savings it is looking at if it contracts with the Suffolk County Sheriff’s office.

“But until this is approved by the Suffolk County Legislature this isn’t going anywhere,” added Duchemin, adding he wonders if the legislature or even Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone knows what is being proposed behind closed doors.


Sag Harbor Planning Board Moves Baron’s Cove Inn Restaurant Forward Despite Neighbor Protest

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Despite protests by neighbors, some of whom had to battle for the right to speak, on Tuesday night the Sag Harbor Village Planning Board issued a negative declaration under the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA) for a proposal to create a restaurant space at Baron’s Cove Inn on West Water Street

That means the planning board believes the proposal does not carry the potential to cause a significant adverse environmental impact on the community.

Cape Advisors, which is developing the property, will still need to gain site plan approval from the Sag Harbor Planning Board for the 79 seat restaurant. Cape Advisors has asked to demolish an existing one-story lobby/office at Baron’s Cove Inn, which the firm is in contract to purchase, and replace it with a two-story restaurant.

While the restaurant seating will be located on the second floor, the proposed bar space for the restaurant is on the first floor next to the lobby. It is that aspect of the plan that has drawn the ire and concern of neighbors, as well as the not-for-profit Save Sag Harbor. The fear is because the bar is located on a different floor than the restaurant that it will become a destination bar space. Years ago, neighbors had to deal with Rocco’s, a nearby nightclub that many say ruined their quality of life.

In addition to the restaurant, the planning board is also reviewing a concession stand near the swimming pool.

On Tuesday night, Cape Advisors partner David Kronman reiterated a list of deed restrictions his firm has agreed to place on the property — restrictions that would run with the property even if it sold to another company.

Under the restrictions, Cape Advisors has agreed to have last call for any alcohol in the outdoor dining area on a proposed patio no later than 10 p.m., all outdoor background music will end at 9 p.m. nightly, last call at the restaurant’s bar will be no later than midnight and the hours of the restaurant bar, said Kronman, will be tied to the hours of the dining room. However, he added, room service will still be permitted to sell alcohol.

Cape Advisors has also agreed to prohibit bottle service of liquor and will not allow cover charges or entry fees, which are common calling cards of nightclubs.

The pool will also be restricted to hotel guests and their guests, said Kronman and will be closed at 9 p.m. as will the outdoor concession area.

“There is nothing more we can offer short of diluting our brand and the guest experience at the hotel,” said Kronman. “Cape Advisors believes we have a sensible project that is consistent with the village code. We are vested in Sag Harbor, here for the long run and have always tried to do the right thing.”

Planning board chairman Neil Slevin said he had heard the company was also considering valet parking on busy summer nights to protect the neighborhood from a parking problem, but Cape Advisors’ attorney Tiffany Scarlato said the 81 parking spaces in the inn’s parking lot fulfill the parking requirements in the village code.

In light of neighbor concerns, village attorney Denise Schoen said the board is limited in the way it assesses this project. First, she said, the board cannot assume Cape Advisors intends to break the law and convert the bar into a nightclub, for example. Second, a bar is only permitted under the village code in the hotel/motel district as an accessory to a restaurant, and only building inspector Tim Platt can make that determination.

Slevin said despite moving forward with the negative declaration, he would ask Platt to review the full application and ensure it does meet the village code.

He also asked Kronman for details on what the concession stand will offer.

Slevin said he believed protections in the code coupled with enforcement, deed restrictions and the scope of the project would ultimately be protective of neighbors. Many issues will also be hammered out in site plan review, said Slevin.

Before the board could act, neighbors began protesting, arguing their right to speak. Zelda Wirtschafter said she was concerned about parking, particularly now that parking is limited on Long Island Avenue, which could send cars onto neighborhood side streets.

“It seems there is more likely a potential use of that bar as a destination place for people in Sag Harbor to go there for a drink rather than go there just for the restaurant,” said Wirtschafter who added that she believed parking was a SEQRA issue.

“They meet the parking standards in the code,” said Schoen. “There is not much more you can do beyond that.”

At that point, Slevin tried to cut the conversation short, much to the ire of the crowd.

Neighbor Angela Scott said she believes the square footage of the downstairs bar area will allow for 265 people, 142 in the lobby lounge, 70 on the side covered porch and 53 on the front porch.

“It’s not just that it is on the ground floor,” said Scott. “The problem is the potential size of the bar area.”

Susan Mead, representing Save Sag Harbor, said her board was also concerned about calling this bar an accessory use, as they see it as a second primary use because of the bar’s location and potential size. For a second primary use a property owner would need zoning board of appeals (ZBA) approval.

“This is a very scary prospect,” said Mead. “It is an expansion of the code that could be done over and over and over again. It is a horrible precedent.”

A Sukka, Sag Style

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By Emily J. Weitz; Image by Erling Hope

Sukkot, which runs September 30 to October 7,  is considered the happiest holiday on the Jewish calendar, and for this year’s festivities, Temple Adas Israel has decided to throw its doors open to the whole community. The Sukka, an outdoor structure where all meals are meant to take place during the festivities, is the most distinctive part of the holiday, says Rabbi Leon Morris. And this year, Temple Adas Israel will unveil its beautiful new Sukka, designed by local architect Nilay Oza and local designer Erling Hope.

“Sukkot is the holiday of hospitality,” says Morris. “It’s part of the ‘It takes a village’ approach. We are sharing our tradition with the larger community, inviting people to participate on their own, and to share our joy.”

All activities throughout the week will take place in the new Sukka, which was designed sticking to Jewish legal requirements, with interesting aesthetic choices, like the unusual roofing.

“One of the rules,” says Oza, “is you can’t mechanically secure anything — so no screws. We took wide, thin pieces of wood and did a cross weave. We wanted the pieces of wood to be thin enough that you could see the light through them. Then, if you vault a ceiling it will have some strength, like an arch. This makes it self-supporting. It’s really simple.”

For a secular person like Oza, working on the Sukka was refreshingly spiritual.

“Whether you like it or not,” he says, “this is a spiritual construction. I understand that as an architect, a primary task, which borders on the spiritual, is to provide people shelter. I am emotionally tied to everything I do because I am providing people a home. That is very central. This was a way to connect with that. It was more than a job.”

But the construction of the Sukka is only the beginning. The structure will also be a work in progress, evolving as people from the community come and contribute to it. To that end, the temple has scheduled special community events daily throughout the week of Sukkot, including a screening of the award-winning Israeli film “Ushpizin,” a reading by local poets, a discussion with farmers from the East End, an evening of storytelling, jazz music and even a puppet show.

“Whenever someone comes,” explains Morris, “whether it’s for the poetry reading, the jazz concert, or the harvest discussion, they will create a panel that Erling Hope will then transform into the interior of the Sukka.’

“It will be a growing art project that the entire community will create,” he adds. “On the last day, we’ll have an open hut where people can come and see what was created over the course of the week.”

This communal aspect of building the Sukka and celebrating this holiday with the whole of the village is very much in line with the spirit of Sukkot.

“Even though this is a Jewish festival,” says Morris, “it’s always had a universal thrust to it. In the ancient temple in Jerusalem, over the course of the week, there were 70 bulls sacrificed, to represent the 70 nations of the world. The sacrifices were offered not just for Jewish people, but for all the world.”

So when Rabbi Morris and the members of the congregation started planning the weeklong celebration, it only made sense to draw on the abundance of the entire community.

“This holiday resonates with themes that speak to everyone who lives on the East End,” says Morris. “It’s about ecology, hospitality, universalism. It’s about getting in touch with how tied in to the earth we are and about getting in touch with our vulnerability.”

But he returns to the heart of the holiday, which is this element of joy.

“Some rabbis teach that what we accomplish on the High Holy days through tears,” explains Morris, “We accomplish on Sukkot through joy. Joy is no small aspect of religious life. It’s no small aspect of Jewish life, and I think it’s an aspect that some Jews on the periphery haven’t experienced how central the idea of joy is in Judaism. This holiday underscores that, and it’s something we can share with the larger community as well.”

This degree of inclusion, getting the whole community involved, is quite rare, said Morris. He said he does not feel there is a contradiction in being a devout Jew and being open to the whole community.

“They are not mutually exclusive principles,” he says. “The robust Jewish life that we experience personally and we share with our congregation is one that equally embraces and is non-judgmental. I think those are really complementary ideas, rather than contradictory. We’re so excited to share how relevant and meaningful Jewish life and traditions can be.”

Still, Morris attributes the plausibility of a collaborative project like this to the larger culture of Sag Harbor.

“This is a project that could only have come together as a result of our experience in living here,” says Morris. “This is a Sukkot with a Sag Harbor vibe.”

Celebrate Sukkot: The Jewish Harvest Festiva

Temple Adas Israel, 30 Atlantic Avenue, Sag Harbor. 725-0904.

Monday, October 1 -Screening of “Ushpizin” an Israeli film. 8 p.m.

Tuesday, October 2 -Poetry reading by Scott and Megan Chaskey, Pamela Kallimanis and Barbara Leff. 8 p.m.

Wednesday, October 3 - “A Day in the Life of Local Farmers” from Sunset Beach Farm and a sampling of squash soup. 8 p.m.

Thursday, October 4 - An evening of storytelling with local residents. 8 p.m.

Saturday, October 6 - Jazz concert with Bryan Campbell and friends. 8 p.m.

Sunday, October 7 - “Open Hut” viewing of the community Sukka. 3 p.m.

CfAR Presents $5,000 to East Hampton Town Trustees

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This past weekend offered prime September beach days and on Sunday, a not-for-profit dedicated to ensuring all residents in East Hampton Town have the right to continue enjoying the town’s beaches, handed an oversized check to the town trustees in an effort to fulfill their mission.

On Sunday, September 23 Citizens for Access Rights or “CfAR” presented a check for $5,000 to the East Hampton Town Trustees at their Bluff Point Road, Amagansett headquarters during the trustees’ annual largest clam contest. The funds are designated to be used to help in the defense of current lawsuits that have been filed by some waterfront homeowners in an effort to privatize a popular public bathing beach off the Napeague Stretch.

This is the second $5,000 check CfAR has presented to the town trustees. The not-for-profit’s first donation was made in October 2011.

“If we can keep doing this year after year we should be able to at least make a dent in the kind of funding the trustees need in this effort,” said CfAR board member Nicole Starr Castillo on Monday.

CfAR was founded by a group of East End residents who support open access to local beaches. In response to two lawsuits in which private individuals are claiming to own the ocean beach at Napeague, CfAR has come together to support the trustees, the East Hampton Town Board and any other governmental body willing to oppose the privatization of local beaches. CfAR is not affiliated with any political party and its objectives include the preservation of residents’ right to enjoy local beaches and donating funds to the town trustees for beach stewardship.

For more information on CfAR, visit www.citizensforaccessrights.com.