Rebuilding SagTown After the Fire

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Workers from Zappola Construction began to clear out debris from the burned-out interior of SagTown Coffee on Friday, April 21, 2017, as part of the store’s reconstruction following the Sag Harbor fire. Michael Heller photo

By Christine Sampson

In what has perhaps been a lesser-publicized effort to rebuild a popular Sag Harbor business following the December 16 fire on Main Street, SagTown Coffee owner Shane Dyckman formally began his pitch for a rebuilt coffee shop with a newly added retail space at the Sag Harbor Planning Board meeting on Tuesday.

Since the fire, Mr. Dyckman has signed a lease on the space formerly occupied by Collette Luxury Consignment, which he intends to turn into his own retail space in which to sell merchandise such as mugs, t-shirts and coffee table books. He has applied for a license to be able to serve beer and wine. And he got to work restoring the original SagTown Coffee shop space after receiving a building permit from Sag Harbor Village for the shop to be rebuilt “in kind.”

His attorney, Brian DeSesa, told the planning board Tuesday that the coffee shop is about six weeks’ worth of construction away from being ready to reopen.

“I have been trying to go through all the right avenues to get this fast tracked and approved to reopen,” Mr. Dyckman said by phone on Wednesday. “Right now is a really crucial time in the construction process.”

But he hit a roadblock when the village’s building inspector, Tom Preiato, inspected the premises recently and said the two separate spaces, SagTown and the former Collette store, had been “made into one large space.”

“I mandated that the wall be replaced and planning board approval be sought for any changes. This took place after the owner and tenant were warned numerous times against doing such,” Mr. Preiato wrote in a memo to the planning board this week. He later noted “the wall went back up.”

Mr. DeSesa explained Wednesday that much of the interior of the building had to be removed and rebuilt “because of the fire damage.”

“The wall as it existed has been reframed and is partially refinished,” Mr. DeSesa said. “We need approval to change that wall.”

Mr. Dyckman asserted Wednesday that no wrongdoing had occurred.

“I was a victim of this fire, which I had nothing to do with. … I suffered a huge loss and I’m just trying to get the place back going,” he said. “It’s as simple as that. I’m not trying to pull the curtain over anyone’s eyes.”

During Tuesday’s planning board meeting, Mr. DeSesa told the board at least one variance will be requested from the Zoning Board of Appeals: the requirement for one parking space per 100 square feet of space for this particular use — which is technically a delicatessen, because “coffee shop,” oddly enough, does not exist in the village code, Mr. DeSesa said. SagTown had relief for two spaces grandfathered in, but because there is no place to add parking, Mr. DeSesa said Mr. Dyckman would have to request relief for the other two spaces that would be required.

“Everything is a permitted use. It’s not an expansion of a nonconforming use,” the attorney said.

On Wednesday, Mr. DeSesa said he and Mr. Dyckman came away with a positive feeling from the planning board meeting.

“There’s still work to be done,” he said. “I think it’s a good application. It makes sense, it’s permissible under the code and I think it’s a good opportunity for the village to have this happen.”

Mr. Dyckman echoed his sentiments.

“We’re just a little mom-and-pop shop open 365 days a year at 6 a.m.,” he said. “Summer’s right around the corner. We still have a lot more building to go, but we can do this very quickly if we get a little help from the village boards and inspectors. … It’s all very positive.”

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