For the last three years, concerns about residential development have dominated conversations before the Sag Harbor Village boards. Once considered the “un-Hamptons,” Sag Harbor has become the destination du jour for real estate speculators and second homeowners.
Which is why it was surprising to see a proposal last month from the Sag Harbor Village Board that would scale back requirements for property owners who need certificates of appropriateness from the village’s Historic Preservation and Architectural Review Board. This change in local law, which, in part, would not require across-the-board public posting of applications before the ARB, came to a head Tuesday night, with residents expressing concern that the legislation would remove a significant way for homeowners to discover potential impacts to their own properties.
Supporters say the change, which in some cases would eliminate the need to post legal notices in front of properties before the ARB, would be discretionary, and would apply only to “minor” applications. But the law is not clear enough and, if adopted as written, it could invite mischief. We were pleased members of the board of trustees took a step back to gain clarity on the legislation before voting on it, and we would advocate this section of the law be seriously reconsidered. As Save Sag Harbor attorney Jeffrey Bragman wisely pointed out, local government should encourage and not discourage public involvement. For some residents — elderly residents, in particular, who are not necessarily checking online meeting agendas — a public posting is an important notice.
If the building department — made up of an excellent, hard-working group of individuals — needs more support in order to contend with a growing number of applications, then it is incumbent upon the village board to provide it with the additional resources it needs to handle the work load.