Tag Archive | "southampton town planning board"

Raising Spirits: Farm Distillery Proposed for Sagaponack

Tags: , , , ,


By Stephen J. Kotz

The Foster Farm in Sagaponack, which is already known for its potatoes, might someday also be known for its vodka, if Dean Foster’s vision comes to fruition.

Mr. Foster, 45, who has been running many of the day-to-day operations of the family’s farm for more than a decade, said he wants to create “an estate style, small farm distillery” that would produce “world class, small batch spirits,” that could grow to include whiskies and brandies, on a farm with a wholesale firewood operation in Sagaponack that his family bought in 2012 to protect it from development.

“I will be growing everything that is used in the making of the spirits,” Mr. Foster said this week. “Grow local. Drink local.”

He said he was drawn to the idea of starting a distillery as a way to diversify his business as well as provide a new market for his and other local farmers’ produce.

Last Thursday, Mr. Foster, accompanied by his attorney, Kieran Murphree of Bridgehampton, appeared before the Southampton Town Planning Board to outline his plans. The planning board declared the site-plan application complete and scheduled an April 10 public hearing on it.

As a start-up operation, Sagg Distillery will be equipped with a small still, capable of producing no more than 400 gallons a year, that will be housed in a garage on the site. Ms. Murphree said the small still would be used for “research and development” operations. “They need to develop recipes,” she said.

Mr. Foster told the planning board the idea of the distillery was made feasible when Governor Andrew Cuomo in 2012 signed legislation that allows farms to distill up to 36,000 gallons of spirits a year. By comparison, Absolut Vodka produces about 158,000 gallons a day.

This week, Mr. Foster said he is already in discussions with a master distiller and if all goes according to plan, he will put in a larger still in an addition to a barn on the property. The barn itself, he said, would be converted into a tasting room. Those steps would require another site-plan review.

Although the operation would be largely wholesale, Mr. Foster told the board the farm distillery law allows some on-site sales from a tasting room.

The property that will be used for the distillery is on the east side of Sagg Road, just north of the Long Island Rail Road tracks. The 13-acre site is now home to Dick Leland’s firewood operation, which, Mr. Foster said, will move from the property in 2015. Large piles of firewood that are being seasoned still cover much of the property.

Mr. Foster told the planning board that neighbors he has spoken to were happy to learn that the firewood business would be leaving. “We can’t wait for the chain saws to stop,” he said they told him. But he added that he wanted to give Mr. Leland enough time to wind down his operations.

“We have firewood and firewood,” quipped planning board member Phil Keith.

Mr. Foster said his family bought the property, which was slated for a seven-lot subdivision, as well as a neighboring 12-acre piece of agricultural land after selling the development rights to other property it owned.

As the firewood operation winds down, Mr. Foster said he would begin to reclaim the soil, which, he said, could be used to grow ingredients for the distillery. Plus, he said, grain used in the distilling process could be used as livestock feed or fertilizer. “I can’t wait to get that farmland back in action,” he told the planning board.

“Terrific. This is our first distillery,” said the planning board’s chairman, Dennis Finnerty. “Once again the Fosters are pioneering.”

Lauer’s Plans For Horse Farm Move Ahead

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,


By Claire Walla

Sag Harbor resident and “Today Show” host Matt Lauer is one step closer to building a horse farm on a 40-acre piece of land off Deerfield Road in Water Mill.

At a meeting last Thursday, May 24, the Southampton Town Planning Board officially closed the public hearing regarding the proposed Edge of Woods Horse Farm, near the intersection of Deerfield and Edge of Woods roads. The board voted to leave a 14-day window for written comments before town planner Claire Vail drafts her final report on the application.

The board is not expected to make its final determination on the application until next month at the earliest.

However, while the process seems to be moving forward, residents who had been vocal in their opposition to the building project had their last say.

“My concern is with the use of an [agricultural] reserve — [for which] the town purchased the development rights — for building a project of this size,” said Water Mill resident Kim Covell, whose home is adjacent to the proposed horse farm. “This is something we should think long and hard about.”

According to the application, Edge of Woods Horse Farm would include two 34,000 square foot outdoor riding rings, a 23,940 square foot indoor riding ring, as well as a 17,455 square foot barn with space for up to 36 horses. The proposed “grooms quarters” and utility building would exist within two structures currently on the property.

Currently, only 6,010 square feet are dedicated to buildings. The proposed horse farm would increase that to about 49,742 square feet.

Southampton Town purchased the development rights to the 30.3-acre property on Deerfield Road, then known as Frankenbach’s Deerfield Nursery, for $3.6 million in 2005. That action effectively preserved the land for open space.

However, according to planning board member Jacqi Lofaro, the proposed Edge of Woods Horse Farm does not, in fact, violate the town’s rules and regulations when it comes to preservation.

“As odd as it seems, New York State considers horse farms farming,” she explained. “Many people don’t realize that.”

In fact, “equestrian rights” is listed as one of the exemptions when it comes to limiting the development of open spaces. The property owner therefore has “the right to use and erect structures for the purpose of boarding, breeding, raising and training of horses or other equines,” according to official Grant of Development Rights signed in 2005.

The exemption does not include “riding academies” or “equine events.” But Tim McCulley, a lawyer for the proposed Edge of Woods Horse Farm, insisted the stables would be for private use only, and no classes or camps would be administered from the farm.

“We’re not trying to draw people from all over,” he told the board. “It can’t be a riding academy.”

Water Mill resident J. Andreassi, who has lived in the area for about 11 years, said overall, in his opinion the horse farm is a much better use of the land than what it’s been used for in the past. As a former commercial space, he explained that it brought a lot of tractor-trailers to the area, including trucks making deliveries early in the morning.

“My wife and I think this application is going to be much better for the future of that particular area,” he added. “From our point of view, there will be less traffic.”

However, some neighbors also cited concerns with a row of cypress trees proposed for the edge of the property.

Neighbor Peter Barylskie noted that some homeowners would be affected by the new row of foliage, in that they would lose sun earlier in the day, therefore shortening their days “by two or three hours.”

Harriet Wittenberg agreed with Barylskie.

“I don’t see any problem with this project, except that it might block our view,” she said.

McCulley said the landscaping plans are still “in the works.”

“We can accommodate the neighbors,” he added. “If the people want to see the horse farm, then we’re going to try to accommodate them as best as possible.”

Methodist Church Hopes to House Pre-K

Tags: , , , ,


By Claire Walla

When The Sag Harbor United Methodist Church made plans to construct a new church on the Sag Harbor Turnpike, the congregation always intended to include space on its ground floor that could be used by another organization, like a pre-school.

Now, after a full year of Sunday services in its brand-new spot, the church is finally hoping to bring a pre-school on-site.

According to Amber Cariglio, a parent at Our Sons and Daughters pre-school in Bridgehampton, the 12-student school hopes to relocate to the United Methodist Church as early as next September. Currently housed at the Hayground School on Butter Lane, she said the school is looking to obtain a bigger space so it can have the room it will need to grow.

The Waldorf-based curriculum is run by teachers Maggie Touchette and Andi Pascaio, who offer programs for children ages 3 to 6. With a bigger space, Cariglio said the program will hopefully be able to expand to include a kindergarten program for 6- and 7-years-olds.

Last week, the Southampton Town Planning Board held a pre-submission hearing on the property to consider changing the churches zoning district from residential to commercial, in order to accommodate another business.

The only voice of dissent came from the church’s Caroll Street neighbor, Pam Wright, who objected to the noise and traffic that might incur from daytime operations.

However, the church’s pastor, Tom MacCleod, said when he knocked on neighbors’ doors to explain what the church was hoping to do, he didn’t seem to face any opposition. He further explained that the biggest impact would occur during pick-up and drop-off hours (8:30 a.m., noon and 2:30 p.m.). He also emphasized that, because of the way the church has been built, the pre-school is virtually shielded from view from Caroll Street.

The potential for noise and traffic “is not something we won’t be able to work around,” MacCleod continued. He added that he’s open to hearing any other concerns that might exist within the community.

“We want to be a good neighbor and we want to be able to provide assistance and have knowledge of anything that’s not right,” he added. “Because we know — we live in the neighborhood, too.”

MacCleod emphasized that the church is not physically expanding, or adding any structural additions onto the church building itself. It’s merely seeking to obtain a variance from the town that would allow it to rent out its 6,776 square-foot basement floor.

The idea of partnering with a pre-school program is not new for the Methodist church. When it was located in its old building on Madison Street in Sag Harbor, the church rented space to the Rainbow Preschool. The school relocated to the Unitarian Universalist Congregation’s meetinghouse on the Sag Harbor Turnpike when the old Methodist Church building was sold to a private owner.

According to MacCleod, the church is hoping to get the variance as soon as possible. The application is now open for a 30-day public comment period, after which Southampton Town Planner Claire Vail will draft a pre-submission report. Only then will the church be able to move forward with an actual site plan and, if all goes according to plan, obtain a variance.

Because roughly 80 percent of the building is currently unoccupied, MacCleod said this would make better use of the new facility. He also said that, in addition to covering the increase in utility costs, any income generated from the preschool program would go directly into the church’s outreach endeavors.

“It would go straight back into the community,” he said.

In the end, MacCleod explained that the church’s efforts to bring Our Sons and Daughters on-site has mostly to do with helping others.

“We know that one of the greatest issues in the Hamptons now is finding affordable space,” he said. “It’s becoming more and more apparent. It’s our reality. So, how do we impact our community?

“We see that this is a need,” he continued. “[Our Sons and Daughters] believes that there’s an opportunity for them to grow. And what we’re trying to do is be of help to the community.”

East End Digest: February 26, 2009

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,


Bridgehampton
Citarella to Open

The former location of the IGA in Bridgehampton will be opening under the name Citarella come April 2009. Citarella considers itself the “ultimate gourmet market.”
Clare Vail, a Southampton Town Planner said that applicant and property owner, Joe Gurrera, submitted an application of expedited review, “a speedy request,” on February 5, 2009.
The planning department held a favorable view and asked the applicant to submit the application on expedited review because there were only going to be minor changes to the building. The application was approved on February 12.
“The applicant wants to spruce up the building, and move the entrance way,” Vail said.
The entrance to the building will be moved to the north east side, from its original location on the west side facing the parking lot, according to the application.
Vail said the applicant wanted to add outdoor seating and improve the parking area – but that would need to undergo a full site plan review at a later date.

Sag Harbor
Library Moves on Building Plans

The John Jermain Memorial Library Board of Trustees continue to work with Newman Architects to develop a library plan that will, in the words of the architects, “serve the Sag Harbor community’s library needs.” During the past weeks a number of firms working in conjunction with Newman have visited both John Jermain and the library’s property at 425 Main Street near Mashashimuet Park.
Philip Steiner, principal from Altieri Sebor and Weber structural engineers, spent January 27 at the library reviewing the mechanical systems, the exterior of the building, and the roof. On February 5, two preservationists, John Glavin and Michele Boyd, from Building Conservation Associates spent 10 hours with the director of the library, Catherine Creedon, touring the building and reviewing the history of John Jermain including photographs, newspapers clippings, blueprints and board reports. It was the third site visit from this firm, headed by Ray Pepi.
On February 13, Deborah McGuinness and Ed Meade, structural engineers for Robert Silman Associates spent the day in Sag Harbor, evaluating both sites with an emphasis on examining the roof, the exterior envelope, the brick wall, existing blueprints, and documentary evidence related to repairs, additions and renovations.
New York State has also proposed an 18% cut in funding to libraries for 2009.

Southampton Town
Interviews for Board Candidates

Southampton Town board members have decided to open an interview process for vacant and holdover positions.
The appointees who serve on the three boards have salaried positions over a specific term of office consistent with state law. Their decision-making powers are exercised by a majority vote of the membership to approve certain types of land use applications.
The Planning Board processes applications for subdivisions, site plans, special exception use permits, lot line modifications, and also renders advisory reports to the Town Board on amendments to the zoning code or requests for changes to the zoning map. The Zoning Board deliberates on requests for variances from zoning strictures on dimensional requirements, changes of use, abandonment proceedings, and appeals of denials or approvals rendered by the Town’s Building Inspector. The Conservation Board processes applications for construction near regulated wetlands areas and prepares advisory reports to the Planning Board and Zoning Board.
Candidates seeking to be considered should send a letter of interest to Supervisor Linda Kabot and members of the Town Board at Southampton Town Hall, 116 Hampton Road, Southampton, NY 11968 prior to February 27.

New York State Assembly
No to Cap

Assemblyman Fred Thiele, Jr., the ranking republican on the Assembly Education Committee, blasted Governor Paterson’s proposal to cap state property tax payments to areas to school districts for state owned lands pursuant to existing state law. Under the Governor’s plan, payments to such areas would be permanently frozen.
The State of New York currently makes property tax payments to certain school districts for state lands. In Riverhead, including Southampton and Brookhaven, the payments are related to the Central Pine Barrens Preserve. Riverhead receives payments for all state alnds within the school district within the Town of Riverhead.
In 2007, Suffolk school district received around $20 million in such payments. A freeze in 2009 will cost these schools nearly $1 million. The freeze would be permanent and apply to all future years.
“There is no doubt that the costs diverted from communities hit by this tax freeze will be borne by local property taxpayers,” Thiele said. “This proposal assumes that school districts will decrease their spending. But the reality is that many districts are struggling in this tough economy.”
“It is the height of fiscal irresponsibility for state government to try and balance its budget on the backs of property owners. If the Governor truly wants to do the right thing for New Yorkers, he would support the swift passge of our ‘New York State Property Act.’ which would put the brakes on ever increasing property taxes and allow families and local eployers to stay in their communities,” Thiele continued.
Thiele said the legislation would prevent school district property tax levies from increasing by more than four percent each year or the rate of inflation, whichever is lower. It would also provide voters with the ability to override this limitation by a two-thirds majority vote. The initiative also provides significant unfunded mandate relief for school districts.
In other news, Thiele also introduced a comprehensive “home rule” plan to address the issue of school consolidation in the State of New York.
Thiele stated, “Exisitng state law inhibits the consideration of school consolidations. Many times school consolidation is derailed by special interests without even allowing the voters to be heard on the issue. In contrast, the Suozzi Commission has proposed a school consolidation procedure which would be imposed by the state with no local referendum. To be successful, we must first have an objective investigation of each potential consolidation in the state. Second, we must permit local voters the opportunity to evaluate these objectiv investigations and make the decision by referendum.”
Thieles bill includes several provisions. It would require the State Education Department (SED) to identify school districts that might benefit from consolidation. The study would include districts with 1,000 or fewer students and school districts that either share a common boundary with such a district, or school districts that have an existing contract with such a district to educate its students.

Suffolk County
Veterans

Last week, the Suffolk County United Veterans Project and other local veterans organizations held a press conference to highlight the impact of Governor Paterson’s proposed budget cuts on homeless veterans in Suffolk County.
County Legislator Kate Browning joined the veterans organizations and spoke out against deep cuts to many of New York’s homelessness prevention and assistance programs. She endorsed the Fair Share Tax Reform as an alternative budget solution that can ensure vulnerable veterans continue to get the care they need.
The press conference was part of an ongoing compaign by the Long Island Fair Share Tax Reform Coalition to advocate for a fair budget solution.