A public hearing yielded a bit of déjà vu last Thursday for a proposed house at 48 Lincoln Street, which earned approval by the Board of Historic Preservation and Architectural Review for the second time in the span of a year.
The initial project, approved in March of 2017 by the BHPAR, was a 5,260-square-foot house that had received a special exemption from the Sag Harbor Board of Trustees to exceed the village’s code capping house sizes, back when the trustees were still granting that type of permit.
That special exemption and first design for 48 Lincoln Street were abandoned when the property’s owner began the process of subdividing it into two parcels — an action that was largely based on community feedback, according to the project’s representatives — and within the last six months, a smaller house of 3,765 square feet was designed for one parcel. Its design is modernist with a finished cellar, detached two-car garage and a pool on the property.
More recently, that project got caught up in a Sag Harbor code change that put a new limit on the height of flat-roofed houses — 25 feet, as opposed to the 35-foot height maximum that applies to houses with peaked roofs — and further design changes had to be incorporated.
Still, the project was not without criticism on Thursday.
“If this is a speculative house, which I believe it is, it’s opening up a can of worms, which the neighborhood is hoping to mitigate,” said Will Sharp, who lives on Wilson Place. “You get a house that size, after construction you get a different kind of neighborhood. … I would like some discussion about why can’t this be reduced in scale and let the development continue.”
Manhattan attorney Bruce Bronster currently owns the property under the name Herringbone Holdings. He also owns several other houses in Sag Harbor.
Mr. Sharp said he had supported the subdivision of the property, but said he thought the new house “is not in the spirit of the subdivision.”
Randolph Croxton, the architect who designed the house, responded to him by saying, “We’ve invested half a year, in which many people could have come forward to express their opinion, and they have. We have adjusted time and time again based on all the feedback. I think we have a better residence as a result.”
BHPAR chairman Anthony Brandt, who lives in the Ninevah neighborhood, also responded to Mr. Sharp’s criticism.
“We don’t have the power to legislate. The village trustees legislate. We don’t have the power to arbitrarily say your house has to be a certain size,” Mr. Brandt said. “We just have to deal with the architectural appeal of it and the historical neighborhood.”
He went on to say he found the proposed house “quite lovely,” but acknowledged the neighborhood is changing.
“While I understand the way people feel, they’re getting used to seeing their old-fashioned neighborhood get tilted in the opposite direction,” Mr. Brandt said.
The BHPAR ultimately voted 5-0, with board member Dean Gomolka absent and board alternate Judith Long casting a vote in his place, to approve the updated application for 48 Lincoln Street.
The house, which conforms to the village’s zoning code and as a result needs no variances, is on a corner lot that is heavily wooded. Mr. Croxton said the project will keep much of the natural landscape.
“Environmentally, it’s a great asset that we’ve retained,” he said, “and of course, it pulls the building back into a much more friendly attitude toward the neighbors.”