A proposal by Uptown Pilates LLC to expand and connect three buildings at 23 Bridge Street in Sag Harbor is too intense a development for the low-lying property, members of both the Sag Harbor Planning Board and Zoning Board of Appeals said during separate meetings this month.
Concerns over a lack of parking, the intensity of use and the need to raise the grade of the land four-feet to accommodate an on-site septic system were issues raised by both boards, who have forwarded their comments to attorney Brian DeSesa and voted separately to take the application off their agenda for the time being.
The 23 Bridge Street property currently hosts three separate buildings with a gross floor area of 2,772 square feet — and two small sheds — on a property just shy of 0.3 acres. The proposal before the Planning Board and ZBA is to renovate, expand and connect the three buildings, and would increase the gross floor area of the structures to 4,427 square feet, a 59.7 percent increase.
Unless the Sag Harbor Village Board of Trustees agreed to extend its wastewater treatment service to the property, an on-site septic system would be required to support the development. To install an on-site septic system — in a part of the village dangerously close to groundwater and prone to flooding — would require erecting a four-foot concrete retaining wall around the property and raising the grade to meet the top of the retaining wall.
Under the village code, the project would also require a total of 50 parking spaces where just six are proposed.
On Tuesday, village attorney Denise Schoen informed the Planning Board that members of the ZBA believed that the project, as proposed, required too many variances and expressed concerns over the intensity of use being proposed for the site and whether it would exacerbate parking and flooding issues in the area. The parking variance required, said Ms. Schoen, if approved, would be the largest approved during her tenure with the village.
“Let’s be clear — it is approximately the lowest lying area of the village which means it is most sensitive to the environment, so the gross intensification of use is probably not appropriate in the most sensitive area,” said board member Larry Perrine during the board’s work session. “Maybe they have to understand that.”
“If the people are not meant to park on the site, they will be forced into the public lot next door which is already overflowing,” said Ms. Schoen. “It will just exacerbate the parking situation. That coupled with the fact that flooding is a huge problem for that specific area and the problem becomes bigger and bigger and bigger.”
In other Planning Board news, the board agreed to give a subdivision application at 237 Main Street and 8 Palmer Terrace — already approved by the board — a 90-day extension as it continues to seek approval from the Suffolk County Department of Health Services.
The application for VACS Enterprises, LLC, the limited liability corporation formed by Diane and Gabe Schiavoni for the proposed redevelopment of 31 Long Island Avenue into a two-story building containing four retail spaces on the first floor and four, second-floor office spaces, is expected to be heard by the ZBA in July, attorney Dennis Downes informed the Planning Board Tuesday night.
The property — once part of a Superfund site — previously held a building with five retail stores and was demolished in 2008 as a part of a cleanup effort on neighboring land that once housed a KeySpan manufactured gas plant. While an official “turn down” letter from village building inspector Thomas Preiato has not been issued yet, Mr. Downes said based on informal discussions with Mr. Preiato, he expects the project will need just a few variances and hopes to be back before the Planning Board next month with a straw vote in favor of the project by members of the ZBA.
Lastly, the review of Eric Fischl and April Gornik’s proposal to redevelop the former Sag Harbor United Methodist Church building into an arts incubator known as “The Church” has been postponed to August at the request of attorney Tiffany Scarlato. Mr. Fischl and Ms. Gornik are currently in discussions with the Sag Harbor Village Board of Trustees to see if extending wastewater treatment to the 48 Madison Street property is possible.