Applicant Won’t Allow Site Visit by Review Board and Consultant

The house and property at 11 Burke Street. Peter Boody photo

An applicant before Sag Harbor’s Historic Preservation and Architectural Review Board on June 27 adamantly refused to allow the board’s historical consultant to visit the property to assess its 18th-and 19th-century structural and architectural details.

“You mean meet with him at the house?” Paris Fields incredulously asked board members. He said he’d had five properties in Sag Harbor and had never allowed anyone from the board to inspect any of them and wouldn’t agree to it now.

Mr. Fields, who appeared before the board with his partner Clifton Murdock seeking a certificate of appropriateness to renovate an historic house at 11 Burke Street, said he had served on the HPARB himself for four and a half years, lived in the village for 20 years and described himself as a preservationist who works for the City of New York.

Before their standoff, he told the board the property is the site of the region’s first Catholic meeting house as well as a shop where whaleboats were made. The house dates to 1810, he said, and he listed its three owners through the 19thcentury, including sea captain Joseph Miller in 1878. The National Register of Historic Places inventory for Sag Harbor’s historic district dates the house “approximately” to 1850.

Members of the HPARB routinely conduct site visits with historical consultant Zach Studenroth whenever a property includes elements that might prove historically or architecturally significant. He usually attends the board’s meetings but was absent on Thursday. Board members said they wanted him present as they reviewed the plans for 11 Burke Street.

When Mr. Fields objected, asserting that the board always reviewed applicants’ plans before its meetings, board chair Dean Gomolka moved to table the application until the next meeting on July 12, when Mr. Studenroth would be present.

“We’ll just have to see what occurs at the next meeting and how we feel about it,” Mr. Fields said. Mr. Murdock asked for assurances that Mr. Studenroth would be there.

In a phone interview on Friday, Mr. Gomolka said that he guessed the board had no way to force applicants to agree to a site inspection but “but we could also not vote on it,” in effect denying the certificate of appropriateness that is required for properties in the historic district before the building inspector can issue a permit for any construction.

“How can we put him above the law?” Mr. Gomolka asked, noting that the HPARB had required many applicants to accede to its requirements and that site inspections were standard operating procedure. He called it a “sticky situation” that he hoped would be resolved when Mr. Fields and Mr. Murdock return in July.

Also at Thursday’s meeting, the board tabled until July 11 an application from the developer of 2 West Water Street, Jay Bialsky, for a “fence wrap” to cover a section of six-foot fence between the site — where two large condo buildings will be erected — and the vacant lot that is the site of the proposed John Steinbeck Waterfront Park.

The developer’s representative, attorney Tiffany Scarlato, told the board that “rather than a black covering” over the cyclone fencing, “we thought it would be nicer and more attractive” to “dress it up” with with two six-foot sections “to lend a little bit of color to what’s going on there.”

The board was skeptical. Mr. Gomolka told Mr. Scarlato that it would be “tarred and feathered” if it allowed the “gazillion feet” of six-foot-high “advertisement” for the future condo units and their builder.

The board on Thursday agreed to set a public hearing for 5 p.m. on July 25 on the application of Wayward Partners LLC for a certificate of appropriateness to demolish the existing house and other structures at 28 Long Point Road and build a FEMA-compliant house with decking, detached garage, swimming pool, pool house and entrance ramp. The village code requires a formal hearing on the application because the proposed house will contain more than 3,000 square feet.

The board granted, or prepared to grant, 10 applications for certificates of appropriateness on Thursday, submitted by:

  • 11 Gull Rock Holdings, LLC, to demolish a house and build a new house with detached garage, pool, terracing, decking and driveway at 11 Gull Rock Road.
  • Sidney S. Stark for a solar roof and storage system at 19 Howard Street.
  • Gustavo Martinez for a new house, pool, outdoor shower and detached cabana at 5 Carver Street.
  • Judy Gilbert for landscaping and a swimming pool at 148 Redwood Road.
  • Carol Rollo for an addition, two shed dormers, removal of a non-historic porch and replacement of non-historic windows at 39 Garden Street.
  • Sag Harbor Building LLC for a storefront awning at 22 Long Island Avenue.
  • Pat Malloy for a 34-by-60-ich sign labeled “apothecary” at 1A Bay Street.
  • Frank Mori for the installation of two awnings at 21 West Water Street identical to awnings previously approved by the HPARB for other units in the complex.
  • Green Barn Holdings 2 LLC for the renovation of a shed at 20 Grand Street.
  • Howard Street LLC for a proposed sound-deadening fence and plantings aroundan above-ground generator.