After Strife, Renovation Plan Is Quietly Approved for 11 Burke

The front of 11 Burke Street, partially hidden by a hedge. Peter Boody photo
Despite the two applicants’ refusal to allow a site inspection, disagreement over the age and importance of their building, their rejection of a historical consultant’s report, and charges that they had been disrespected, Paris Fields and Clifton Murdock won a “certificate of appropriateness” from the Sag Harbor Historic Preservation and Architectural Review Board in a 4-0 vote on September 12.
The decision will allow them to obtain a building permit to proceed with renovations to a much modified 19th century house at 11 Burke Street.
Insisting it was built in the federal style early in the early 19th century — while the board’s historical consultant, as well as the Sag Harbor historic district’s official nominating form, called it a Greek revival structure from the mid-1800s — the two men have said the building was built by whaleboat maker William Cooper, who hosted the first Catholic meetinghouse in Suffolk County there. The property used to stretch to the waterfront and once included Mr. Cooper’s whaleboat shop, they have said.
Those and other disagreements prompted Mr. Murdock to prepare long and highly detailed responses that he insisted on reading into the record during the board’s hearing on the application on July 11 and 25.
At the July 25 meeting, Mr. Murdock rejected a second report from historical consultant Zachary Studenroth and “moved to strike it” from the record “as insufficient”; complained that his Freedom of Information request to the village for Mr. Studenroth’s resume had been rejected, with the excuse that it wasn’t in the village’s files; and accused him of having “dismissively ignored our presentation” at a previous meeting. He said Mr. Studenroth had written “a biased critique of the project” and commented, “My experience as an African-American was, we were not being heard.”
The board moved forward without addressing those and other complaints, focusing only on architectural details and their historic appropriateness. It voted at its September 12 meeting to approve a “certificate of appropriateness” for the renovation plan.
Board member Bethany Deyermond recused herself because her husband, Ed Deyermond, was involved in a recently settled lawsuit dating back 15 years, when he was the village mayor, involved in challenging as an illegal change of use Mr. Fields’s conversation of an antiques shop on Washington Street into a yoga studio.
In approving the plan, the board agreed that an interior photograph the applicants had provided, as well as a pane of its glass they found in a crawlspace, provided the historic basis for the proposed installation of a half-round window on the second floor over the front door.
Another issue was the size of the cellar windows, with the renovation plans showing them as all the same size while in fact they vary. The decision requires that the grills, to be custom made for the cellar windows, will fit the existing openings.
The applicants also must submit written plans assuring that the front-door pilasters are to remain in place.