Builder Reverses Request to Leave Historic Building Out of Grand Street Home

The new house at 20 Grand Street. The old building at right rear was to have been incorporated in the front-gabled section of the new house. Peter Boody photo

Builder Tal Litvin will now include a 19th century front gabled structure in the new home he is building at 20 Grand Street, his attorney, Alex Kriegsman, announced to the Sag Harbor Village Historic Preservation and Architectural Review Board during its December 19 meeting. In doing so, Mr. Litvin will adhere to a key aspect of the original approval granted by the board in 2018.

The reversal came a week after Mr. Litvin received a tongue lashing by members of the ARB when he requested permission to salvage just pieces of the building — a contributing structure in the village’s historic district — citing a engineers report that called the structure “unsafe” and a second report that stated it was damaged by termites.

Both reports were written after a November 2019 site visit by the board’s historical consultant, Zachary Studenroth, who said the structure appeared “reasonably sound” at that time.

Last Thursday, Mr. Kriegsman came before the board and said his client would remove the request to salvage just parts of the building but incorporate it wholly into the structure. He also rescinded a request to change the roofline of a second story — another deviation from the original permit and one the HPARB also took issue with.

In return, he asked the board for the ability to incorporate eight other requests into the approval, including the lowering of a gable roof, relocating egress stairs to the side of the home to support a retaining wall, substitute areas of white, pre-stained cedar shingles to cedar clapboard, the ability to use composite trim, the inclusion of a carport, and modifications to the planting plan originally filed with the village.

“We are reserving all of our rights, but it is my hope we can work out a resolution and that would involve putting the entire original structure on the foundation as the boards wants,” said Mr. Kriegsman, adding it would create a “significant cost” for his client.

Board members appeared pleased with ARB Chairman Dean Gomolka calling the plan “reasonable.” However, Mr. Gomolka and board member David Berriage asked for formal documents and drawings outlining the agreement, which Mr. Kriegsman said he could furnish to the board in advance of its January 9 meeting.

“I am looking at these changes and it looks really good,” said Mr. Gomolka.

Neighbor Mare Dianora, whose husband, Claes, alerted building inspector Thomas Preiato when it appeared the historic structure was being taken down instead of preserved as approved in the plans, also asked Mr. Kriegsman to ensure trees planted on her property line did not obstruct the sunset view she and her family have enjoyed for decades.

In other HPARB news, the board appeared ready to turn down a request for roof-mounted solar panels made by Abbey Warsh, who proposed 12, roof-mounted solar panels for a residence at 184 Division Street.

While the HPARB has approved one application for shingled solar panels in the historic district, it has not approved visible roof-mounted panels. “We have denied all of these applications before us,” said Mr. Gomolka, noting the board would be open to the shingled solar panel.

A Tesla engineer, representing Ms. Warsh, said she would raise the issue with er client and report back to the board in time for its January 9 session.