It appears the Sag Harbor Board of Historic Preservation and Architectural Review may be poised to take a formal vote on the largest development application before all the village boards — developer Jay Bialsky’s plans to redevelop 2 West Water Street, currently a behemoth, white atrocity with one of the more unfortunate cupolas ever to grace our lovely village.
Some form of development has been proposed for this property for several years now, including incarnations far larger than what Mr. Bialsky has proposed. His project includes three residential units that at last count totaled just under 24,000 square feet. It represents one of the last major redevelopment opportunities along Sag Harbor’s waterfront as well as a heavily trafficked street. It will be an important part of the gateway to Sag Harbor for anyone driving over the Lance Corporal Jordan C. Haerter Veterans Memorial Bridge.
The board is expected to revisit this application once more on Thursday, February 14. Last week, Mr. Bialsky announced he would once again scale down one of the townhouse units, the size of which appeared to be keeping some members of the board from signing off on the project.
Board chairman Anthony Brandt, who had announced he would resign at the close of the application, moved up his departure and stepped down last week, fearing the review process had a long way to go while he has other priorities in his life.
At the February 14 meeting, the board could debate new plans and vote; table the topic to a future meeting so all members can review the record; reopen the previous public hearing or advertise a new hearing altogether so more public comment can be obtained.
Given Mr. Brandt’s departure and the fact that the project is changing, we urge the review board to pursue that last option.
Appreciating the patience Mr. Bialsky has shown during this process, that he has shown a willingness to work with the community and that this would be a further delay, it seems reasonable that the public should be allowed to weigh in on this latest iteration.
Mr. Bialsky’s willingness to hear concerns from both board members and residents has actually played in his favor thus far, earning him two favorable votes in the review board’s unofficial poll on January 24.
As a right, Mr. Bialsky could propose as many as 13 residential units — instead of three — on West Water Street. He has said he will not do that. The big question mark is just how far Mr. Bialsky will go in reducing the size of the third townhouse, a 7,627-square-foot unit closest to the water, and how that in turn influences the review board’s votes. We hope the board takes its time, turns to the community for a little more input and, eventually, casts careful, informed and objective votes.