Chamber Weighs In On Sag Harbor Waterfront Zoning Proposal

Sag Harbor Village waterfront. STEPHEN J. KOTZ

The Sag Harbor Village Board, which has been working on a proposed rezoning of much of its waterfront for the past six months, held the first of two scheduled work sessions on Monday to review the document. The second session will take place via Zoom on Monday, May 10, at 3 p.m.

Mayor Kathleen Mulcahy said the waterfront zoning committee would review comments from the two work sessions, and, if necessary, propose changes to the zoning document before it would be sent to the Village Board for final review and to schedule a public hearing. The earliest that hearing could take place would be June 8.

Recognizing the vulnerability of much of the village waterfront to redevelopment that could block views and access to the water, the village has created a committee and hired a team of consultants to revisit current zoning for an area that runs from the marinas on the west side of the waterfront to the Sag Harbor Yacht Yard on the east. The area proposed for a waterfront “overlay” district includes properties on the south side of Long Island Avenue and Bay Street as well as portions of the Office District next to the municipal parking lots behind Main Street.

Planning consultants have recommended a form-based code that seeks to encourage the type of development that would protect the village’s eclectic character instead of one that would rely on the dimensional guidelines of traditional codes. Although recommendations that height and other size restrictions be imposed on waterfront construction have been warmly received, others, including several that would allow more retail uses in the Office District have been opposed.

On Monday, the board heard from Gavin Menu and Nat Egosi of the Sag Harbor Chamber of Commerce, who presented the board with a list of comments.

Mr. Menu, the Chamber’s president and publisher of the Express News Group, told the board that the Chamber’s board of directors had unanimously approved the list, which had also been vetted by about 20 other members of the business organization. He added that the Sag Harbor Partnership had signed on as well.

Mr. Egosi, a member of the Chamber’s board of directors and the owner of the Sag Harbor Inn, said that the while the Chamber supported the need for the waterfront overlay district, it had several concerns.

One, he said, is that the code should recognize the critical need for parking in the business district and eliminate the ability of developers to obtain variances from parking requirements. He also urged the village to try to secure the National Grid gas ball property as a municipal parking lot, even though Friends of Bay Street has recently announced it had secured a lease for the property.

Although the Village Board had at first instituted a six-month moratorium with the goal of completing the zoning code review during that time, and only reluctantly extended it until August, Mr. Egosi urged the board to extend it further beyond the summer season. That would allow business owners to concentrate on getting past COVID-19 and have a successful season before they would have to concentrate on the zoning issues.

Mr. Egosi also said Chamber members do not support any changes to the use table such as those that would allow additional retail businesses in the Office District as well as any loosening of lot coverage restrictions.

Although the board did not discuss the Chamber’s concerns at length, Trustee Thomas Gardella offered his support for the Chamber’s positions. “I have reviewed the letter,” he said of the statement Mr. Egosi read, “and I don’t see anything in here that is unreasonable or that we shouldn’t make an effort to address in this code.”