Tag Archive | "Sag Harbor ZBA"

Doubts on Redwood


The ZBA said it would not be inclined to grant variances that would allow Brian DeSesa, a Sag Harbor attorney, to subdivide into two lots an 11,954-square-foot lot he is in contract to buy at 41 Redwood Road.

Mr. DeSesa said he wanted to redivide the property, which had merged with upzoning, so he could build houses for his family and his in-laws.

But a neighbor, Richard Sygar, of 37 Redwood Road, opposed the plans. Mr. Sygar told the board even if the property were not subdivided it would still not meet village, county and state setback requirements from wetlands, nor be able to meet most of the standard setbacks required in the R-20 zone for a single house.

Plus, he said, thanks to an easement his own sanitary system and parking area are on the property. If two houses were allowed on the property, that would result in three sanitary systems, “or the highest concentration of sanitary systems in the village,” he said.

Although the board agreed to table the matter until next week, members urged Mr. DeSesa to drop the idea. “It feels like a really troubled lot to even build a single residence on it,” said Mr. McGuire.

Jefferson Street House Creeps Forward


10 Jefferson_0416

The house at 10 Jefferson Street. 

After months of review, it appears Evan DiPaulo of 10 Jefferson Street will get to build the house he wanted, to the rear of his property, while keeping a second house at the front of the property as some type of accessory structure.

The Sag Harbor Village Zoning Board of Appeals took a straw vote on the plans when it met Tuesday night, although it held off on issuing a final approval until it receives a report from the ARB.

Neighbors had opposed Mr. DiPaulo’s original plan to build to the rear of the property and raze the existing house, arguing that the Sag Harbor streetscape features houses built close to the street and that removing one from that line would be like smile with a missing front tooth.

Tim McGuire, the board’s acting chairman, said it placed an “unfair onus” on a property owner to require him to maintain as open space a portion of his property for the benefit of neighbors only. The opinion was echoed by other board members, who agreed Mr. DiPaulo had a right to build to the rear of the property.

Board chairman Anthony Hagen said the only alternative he was for “issuing a lot of variances” so Mr. DiPaulo could undertake a major renovation of the former Santecroce family house. Mr. Hagen said he was guided in his review of all applications by the motto of trying to issue as few variances as possible.


Brown To Step Down as Sag Harbor ARB Chairman

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Sag Municipal Building

By Stephen J. Kotz

Cee Scott Brown, the long-time chairman of the Sag Harbor Board of Historic Preservation and Architectural Review, confirmed this week that he would step down when his term expires on July 20.

His decision comes as the village faces a growing chorus of complaints that its various regulatory boards are not doing enough to control the pace of development that has accelerated and spread throughout the village over the past year or two.

Mr. Brown, who said he had been thinking about giving up the post for some time, said his decision was not spurred by any pressure from within or without village government.

Instead, he said he was recultivating a long standing interest in the arts and had recently joined the board of directors of the Parrish Art Museum.

“I thought it would be a good time to step off the ARB and spend time focusing on the Parrish,” he said. “I have enjoyed it, but now it’s someone else’s turn.”

“Cee has done a good job,” said Mayor Brian Gilbride. “I know full well the time and dedication it takes. It’s very easy to stand on the outside and criticize.”

The terms of two other ARB members, Tom Horn Sr. and Bethany Deyermond, also expire this year, as do the terms of two ZBA members, Scott Baker and Jennifer Ponzini. Jeff Peters, a member of the Harbor Committee, has been serving on a holdover status since his term expired in 2013 and the village board did not have the votes to remove him from the post or appoint him to another term.

Just a week ago, on Thursday, April 30, a large crowd turned out at a village board meeting to sound the call for the village to take steps to tighten its zoning code to choke off the proliferation of oversized houses.

Several speakers directed pointed criticism at the village’s Zoning Board of Appeals and the ARB, with much of it aimed directly at Mr. Brown, who is a real estate broker with Corcoran and with his partner, Jack Pearson, is the exclusive representative of the Watchcase condominiums.

Tony Brandt, who served on the village’s original ARB,  said the board originally operated under a strict code of ethics, a code he said that would never have allowed a real estate broker to serve as the board’s chairman.

“We’ve become the laughing stock of the rest of the Hamptons because we have such a conflict of interest,” he said, offering to serve another term if the village board so desired.

“I think it is a terrible conflict of interest to have real estate agents and developers on the ARB,” added Judith Long, a Main Street resident, who also volunteered to serve. Bob Weinstein, a Jefferson Street resident, who has been critical of development in his neighborhood, also said he would be willing to serve.

Neil Slevin, a former planning board and ZBA member, offered to recruit members to serve on boards, an offer Mr. Gilbride happily accepted. “I’ve said this to every person I’ve interviewed, you have to be able to say ‘no,’” the mayor said, adding that Mr. Slevin had that characteristic.

Mr. Brown dismissed claims that he was incapable of being an impartial chairman. “If there is any sort of a conflict, I recuse myself,” he said. “I make it well known if I sold the house. I recuse myself even if it is just a paint color.”

He said had consulted with then-village attorney Anthony Tohill, who assured him it would not be a conflict for him to serve. “The company I work for now didn’t even exist out here” when Bulova was reviewed, he added.

Mr. Brown said he hoped members of Save Sag Harbor would follow through on their commitment to serve. “Every time I try to recruit board members, it’s difficult,” he said. “I hope Save Sag Harbor members would put their names forward and get on these boards rather than point fingers and complain. It would be much more constructive.”

He said as chairman he tried to make the ARB “user friendly” by having board members sit at a table instead of at the elevated dais, and by giving applicants the time they need to present their projects.

The job also requires a substantial effort, he added. “It’s not just something you can show up to twice a month,” he said,  adding that he stops by the Municipal Building to review plans and visits  the sites of projects to better acquaint himself with applications.

ARB Remains Undecided on Jefferson Street House

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The Sag Harbor Board of Historic Preservation and Architectural  Review last week was again unable to reach a decision on the application of Evan DiPaolo who wants to build a new house at 10 Jefferson Street.

At a September 22 meeting, board chairman Cee Scott Brown said he wanted to table the application until the board had the opportunity to discuss the placement of the house on the lot with a historic preservation consultant.

He suggested the board may try to consult with Julian Adams, the director of the New York State Historic Preservation Office’s Bureau of Community Preservation Services, who advised the board earlier this year on what type of building materials to allow in the historic district.

Earlier this year, Mr. DiPaolo and his architect, Anthony Vermandois, approached the board with drawings for a house at the rear of the property, but they left that informal session with the understanding that the ARB preferred to see the house built along the street, in keeping with the typical streetscape in the historic district.

They next took a proposal to the Zoning Board of Appeals, which blanched at the required number of variances and sent them back to the ARB.

Mr. DiPaolo, his patience obviously, running thin, appeared before the ARB last week with his attorney, Timothy McCauley of Southampton, who questioned if neighbors who want the house built close to the street “have been enjoying some open space at someone else’s expense.” He said Mr. DiPaolo’s plan would have “no impact on the historic district as a whole or any of the neighbors.”

But a large crowd turned out to voice objections to the plan. Bob Weinstein, a resident of 20 Jefferson Street, has been a particularly vocal critic. He said nothing in his opposition to Mr. DiPaolo’s plan was personal, but that he was concerned about maintaining the integrity of the historic district.

“It is more important to satisfy individual needs or the needs of the historic district?” he asked. “Each of us is going to be gone in 10, 20, 30, 40 years, but the village will be here.”

Sag Harbor ZBA Frets Over Project Near Bluff

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By Stephen J. Kotz

The application of Alan and Anita Sosne, who want to add a second-floor addition to their house, put in a pool and make other improvements to their property at 18 Cove Road, saw their application tabled once again by the Sag Harbor Zoning Board of Appeals on Tuesday.

The Sosnes’ attorney, Dennis Downes, told the board that terracing around the pool, which had been part of the original application and would have been within 8 feet of a bluff on the property, has since been removed from the application. The pool, which had been proposed for 15 feet from the edge of the bluff has been moved back to a 25-foot setback, “so we cleaned that up quite a bit,” Mr. Downes said.

But the board’s chairman, Anton Hagen, said he was concerned that a support post for a new second-story deck would be only 5 feet from the edge of the bluff.

“We haven’t really ever approved anything that close to a bluff,” he said, citing concern that the decision might be used as a precedent by other applicants. Mr. Downes agreed to explore whether it would be possible to build the deck with a cantilevered support.

In the mean time, the ZBA is still waiting for the Harbor Committee to offer its input on the application. “This is the third month we have been here and the Harbor Committee hasn’t weighed in,” said Mr. Downes.

The problem, according to Lisa Koehne, the board’s secretary, is that the current procedure in the village is to only refer applications deemed complete to another board that is supposed to offer an advisory opinion. The board agreed that once Mr. Downes provides an updated survey, it will pass the application on to the Harbor Committee for its review.

The board also formally approved Sotheby’s International Realty to convert the former offices of The Sag Harbor Express at 35 Main Street into a real estate office. The Express is now at 22 Division Street, on the other side of the building.

Although a code change rendered offices in the Main Street shopping district nonconforming uses, the village board grandfathered in existing offices, allowing them to change from one use to another with ZBA approval.

Mr. Hagen was the sole dissenter. “There is a lot of resistance to having another real estate office on Main Street,” he said. “That’s why I’m voting against it.”

The board also tabled, until its December meeting, the application of Page at 63 Main, which is seeking a variance for a refrigerated unit at the rear of its building.  The restaurant is currently involved in a court battle with the village over a renovation project that added seats to the rear of the property, and Mr. Downes asked that the application be tabled until the court case is resolved.

ZBA Says It Will Approve Sotheby’s Office

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The space on Main Street formerly occupied by the Sag Harbor Express. Photo by Stephen J. Kotz.

The space on Main Street formerly occupied by the Sag Harbor Express. Photo by Stephen J. Kotz.

By Stephen J. Kotz

The Sag Harbor Village Zoning Board of Appeals, in a straw vote on Tuesday, August 19, said it would approve the application of Sotheby’s International Realty to lease the former offices of The Sag Harbor Express at 35 Main Street.

In contrast to a hearing last month, at which several opponents spoke out against the plan, including two other local real estate brokers, and where the board left some doubt as to where it stood on the matter, Tuesday’s discussion was brief and to the point. Board members Tim McGuire, Scott Baker, and Jennifer Ponzini said they were in favor of approving the change of use request, with chairman Anton Hagen ultimately saying he would vote against it.

Board member Brendan Skislock, who was the most supportive of the request at a July 21 hearing, was absent, prompting Dennis Downes, the attorney representing Sotheby’s, to first request a month adjournment before changing his mind after hearing a majority of the board express support for the application.

“I’m conflicted on this,” admitted Mr. Hagen, who said there has been a concern about “the proliferation of real estate offices on Main Street.” He said he does not want to see “another wall of photographs of properties on Main Street. I don’t think that’s desirable.”

But he also expressed concern about the alternative. ”We don’t want a store that closes for six months a year, that could be worse,” he said.

But when polled by assistant village attorney Denise Schoen, Mr. Hagen said he would vote against the application.

“I don’t think it’s for this board to decide what kind of business” the space can be occupied by, said Mr. McGuire.

The application drew controversy when it was heard last month, with opponents saying they did not want to see another real estate office open on Main Street and arguing that in a 2009 code change that froze the number of office spaces on Main Street, the village board had agreed with their position.

But Mr. Downes, Ms. Schoen, and Richard Warren, the village’s planning consultant, told the ZBA the village board had expressly protected the rights of property owners with office uses by guaranteeing their right to switch from one type of an office to another when it adopted the code change. Former Mayor Greg Ferraris, who was in office at the time of the code change, submitted a letter to the file that said that was, in fact, the board’s intent.

But their opinions did not sit well with a number of speakers at last month’s hearing, including Scott Strough and Simon Harrison, real estate brokers who already have offices on Main Street or nearby. They argued that the village board had expressly sought to limit the number of real estate offices in the shopping district, with Mr. Strough going so far as to say he had a pay a premium to rent his own space.

“Obviously they don’t want any more real estate offices in town because it is more competition,” said Mr. Downes.

The board will issue a formal determination on the application at its September 23 meeting.

The Express moved to second floor offices in the rear of its building, which have an entrance at 22 Division Street, in the spring.

Harbor Heights Officially Denied by Sag Harbor ZBA

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Harbor Heights. Michael Heller photo.

A car pulls into Harbor Heights. Michael Heller photo.

By Kathryn G. Menu

The Sag Harbor Village Zoning Board of Appeals officially denied most of the variances needed for John Leonard to expand the Harbor Heights Service Station on Route 114 on Tuesday.

The official determination comes a month after the ZBA in a straw poll approved just one of three variances being considered, effectively ending a proposal to re-develop and expand the Harbor Heights station to include a convenience store without requiring significant revision to the plans.

The Harbor Heights project involves the redevelopment of the gas station and neighboring Sag Harbor Service Station, including the addition of a convenience store, the relocation and expansion of gas pumps on the property, as well a new curb cut to Route 114, striped parking and landscaping.

The lone variance approved for the project by the ZBA was a front-yard setback variance, allowing Mr. Leonard, through his corporation Petroleum Ventures LLC, to construct the retail convenience store in the existing Harbor Heights building, which is 15.6 feet from Route 114 where a 50-foot setback is required under the village code.

At the work session last month, board members—sans Jennifer Ponzini who was absent from the proceedings—agreed the variance should be allowed as it does not change anything from what exists today.

“It’s not self created, I think, because the building is already there,” noted ZBA chairman Anton Hagen.

However, the board was also in agreement that a variance request to reduce the required landscape buffers around the perimeter of the property from 30 feet to between 9 and 19.4 feet, should be denied, calling it the first defense to shield neighbors from the impact of the project. Board members also noted if the size of the project was reduced, the landscape buffers could be larger, meaning it is something that could be achieved without needing relief from the board.

The ZBA also denied a variance to allow the size of the convenience store to exceed 600 square feet. The proposal called for a 718-square-foot store, excluding mechanical equipment, utilities, a storage area and ADA compliant bathrooms.

A variance looking at whether the addition of new fueling pumps would constitute an expansion of the station’s pre-existing, non-conforming status was deemed moot by the board given the denial of the convenience store.

Ms. Ponzini abstained from voting on Tuesday’s determination, with the remainder of the five-member board in agreement on all the variance decisions.

Following last month’s meeting, Mr. Leonard’s attorney, Dennis Downes, said he would defer comment until a final determination was made and only after he spoke to his client. Mr. Leonard has 30 days to apply to the ZBA with scaled back plans for the project. He can also file a lawsuit challenging the ZBA’s decision.

In other ZBA news, on Tuesday the board tabled an application from Charles Susi of Madison Street to allow for the construction of a 14-by-28-foot swimming pool in the front yard. Variances were also requested to allow the pool within 17 feet of the front lot line, where 35 feet is required and 5 feet from the east side lot line where 15 is required.

Planner Matt Ivans, with Suffolk Environmental, argued because the property was on a corner lot and was undersized, his clients were faced with a hardship. When asked by village attorney Fred Thiele, Jr. whether he had been able to uncover any previous cases where the ZBA allowed a pool in the front yard, Mr. Ivans said no.

“I have a general reluctance to granting variances for swimming pools,” said board member Tim McGuire, adding that was particularly true when a pool was proposed to be just five feet from a property line.

“I don’t have an issue giving variances for pools,” said board member Brendan Skislock, “ but we are opening up a can of worms granting it for a front yard.”

“The problem is once we put one in the front yard, we have put one in the front yard,” agreed board member Scott Baker.

Mr. Ivans agreed to talk to his clients and return for the board’s March 18 session.

Also tabled to that meeting was Jennifer Tierney’s application for a swimming pool on Madison Street. Ms. Tierney is requesting variances from the village’s wetlands code to allow for the pool, which is within 47.2 feet of the wetlands, where 75 feet is required.

Chairman Hagen asked that Tierney’s pool plans be scaled back.

Sag Harbor ZBA Tables Tutto il Giorno Request for More Seats

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Tutto il Giorno on Bay Street in Sag Harbor. Tessa Raebeck photo.

Tutto il Giorno on Bay Street in Sag Harbor. Tessa Raebeck photo.

By Kathryn G. Menu

When the Sag Harbor Zoning Board of Appeals approved the addition of 21 seats at LT Burger this fall, exempting the restaurant from having to fulfill parking requirements in the village code tied to seating, members knew it would likely result in a glut of applications by other eateries.

On Tuesday night, board members attempted to stave off that flood of requests, suggesting Bay Partners LLC, the company that owns the Tutto il Giorno property, should approach the Sag Harbor Village Board of Trustees rather than the ZBA in its quest to gain 21 additional outdoor seats at the Italian restaurant on Bay Street.

In order to legally add 21 seats at Tutto il Giorno, Bay Partners would need to either provide seven new parking spaces or earn a variance from the ZBA. Until 2009, the village allowed commercial property owners to pay into a parking fund when coming before the ZBA to seek a variance for parking. The applicant still had to show the ZBA the additional seating would not have a detrimental affect on the community, but if approved, it would be able to pay into a village fund earmarked to create more parking.

However, in 2009, the fund was abandoned during a village zoning code revision, as there were few ways to create more parking in the village.

On Tuesday, Tutto il Giorno manager Rachel Luria argued the restaurant has the space for the seating in its outdoor dining area, that outdoor dining is largely shielded from Bay Street by landscaping and that the restaurant is surrounded by daytime businesses not open during the busiest dining hours.

“You have every right to be before this board, but my question is are you in the right place,” said village attorney Fred Thiele, Jr. Thiele noted the argument being made by Luria is one that would be made by any restaurant in Sag Harbor, which is if the village looked at other benchmarks outside of parking—like the fire code or wastewater treatment availability—more seats could be easily achieved.

Mr. Thiele suggested what restaurant owners may be looking for is a change in the village code—a legislative decision that can only be made by the village board.

The village has discussed changing seating and parking restrictions for restaurants, although that conversation was largely tabled last year after building inspector Tim Platt noted if all restaurants were allowed to use the fire code as the basis for seating, the village would need upwards of 300 new parking spaces.

“I think, in my opinion, if we were to grant a variance it would have to be for something very unique to this restaurant that differentiates it from all, if not most, of the restaurants in the village,” said board member Tim McGuire.

The application was tabled until the board’s March 18 meeting.