Government: ARB Sleuth Discovers Shed, Weir Welcomed

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Southampton Supervisor Jay Schneiderman joins dozens who gathered in protest in front of the Southampton Center for the Arts on Monday, June 5 before a debate, sponsored by the Press News Group, between three candidates running for Southampton Village Board. The protest was in response to the news that one of the candidates, Valerie Smith, used a racial slur in a conversation with police and residents of her Hillcrest, Southampton neighborhood. Emily Weitz photo

 

Southampton Supervisor Jay Schneiderman joins dozens who gathered in protest in front of the Southampton Center for the Arts on Monday, June 5 before a debate, sponsored by the Press News Group, between three candidates running for Southampton Village Board. The protest was in response to the news that one of the candidates, Valerie Smith, used a racial slur in a conversation with police and residents of her Hillcrest, Southampton neighborhood. Emily Weitz photo

ARB Sleuth Discovers Shed’s Origin

The nature of the small building at the rear of Brandon Haley and Anna Flett’s 22 Suffolk Street property was revealed to be a former laboratory and factory at the May 25 meeting of the Sag Harbor Board of Historic Preservation and Architectural Review.

The building’s origin puzzled board members when they reviewed plans to demolish the structure at their May 11 meeting. The board’s historic preservation consultant, Zach Studenroth, said the building looked like an old schoolhouse, but board member Bethany Deyermond later tracked it down in “Sag Harbor: The Story of an American Beauty,” a village history written by Dorothy Zaykowski.

Ms. Deyermond said she became curious about the building two meetings ago after Ken Conrad, who lives on Palmer Terrace behind the Haley-Flett property, and who is a descendant of the Eaton family, spoke up to say the structure had been used by his grandfather as a workshop before his main factory was built on Jermain Avenue.

“A house on Palmer Terrace had originally belonged to Eaton — I kind of just put two and two together,” Ms. Deyermond said Wednesday. “The two pieces of land were connected to one family. They called it a laboratory-factory, and that’s why it had those big windows. We were trying to figure it out — was it a school or a church? I was just curious and kept looking until I found it.”

A subsequent report by Mr. Studenroth detailed the successful efforts of two Sag Harbor inventors, William S. Eaton and his son, Edmund P. Eaton, who were the ones who built and used the laboratory and factory for a watch-and-dial company and an engraving and printing machinery company.

The structure — which the ARB toured on May 18 — will ultimately be demolished to make way for a new one-story, three-bedroom house because neither it nor the existing main house is listed on the village’s survey of historic structures. The ARB approved Mr. Haley and Ms. Flett’s application, with the exception of the proposed pool. That will be requested on a separate application in the future, which will also include a detailed landscaping plan at the request of ARB member Dean Gomolka.

“As for the new building you proposed, I think it’s fine. I think we all think it’s a pretty handsome building,” ARB chairman Anthony Brandt told Daniel Butler, the attorney representing the homeowners, on May 25.

The final ARB approval was 3-0, with board member John “Chris” Connor recusing himself because he is involved in the design of the project and board member Chris Leonard abstaining.

Welcoming Weir in Southampton

The Southampton Town Board on Thursday introduced its new director of housing and community development, Diana Weir, to the public. Ms. Weir, a former member of the East Hampton Town Board and a current member of that town’s planning board, comes to Southampton from the Town of Brookhaven, where she served as housing director. Before that, she worked for several years with the Long Island Housing Partnership.

In a brief discussion with the board, Ms. Weir, who lives in Wainscott, said she looked forward to her new position and said she had already begun reviewing the town’s procedures and policies for tweaking.

Councilman Stan Glinka said the lack of workforce housing has become a major problem for many employers in town, noting that some businesses have begun to buy or rent homes for their employees.

Supervisor Jay Schneiderman, who has listed the need for more workforce housing — especially east of the Shinnecock Canal — as one of the town’s most pressing needs, said he believed it was a major cause of the morning traffic-backups along County Road 39 and Route 27.

“It’s going to be a tough one to solve,” he said. “I think we have the right person to solve this.”

Also on Thursday, the board held a hearing to extend a moratorium on planned development districts, a precursor to a plan to introduce legislation abolishing the controversial development tool. PDDs have frequently led to public opposition to projects ranging from the Bridgehampton Gateway mixed-use development to the Hills, a housing and golf course development proposed for East Quogue.

After receiving only a handful of comments supporting the moratorium, the board left the hearing open for two weeks for written comment, including an expected report from the Suffolk County Planning Commission.

Mr. Schneiderman has said the board will soon introduce a measure to repeal the PDD law, but needed the moratorium in place to prevent any applications from being made in the interim.

Support for Farming Rights

Members of the Suffolk County Legislature joined the Long Island Farm Bureau, farmers and advocates of the agricultural community in support of a Home Rule message that was passed earlier on Tuesday by Suffolk lawmakers. The message asks the state to enact legislation that would protect landowners’ ability to continue farm operations, as defined by the New York State Agriculture and Markets Law, when the development rights are extinguished on their land.

Specifically, the message supports pending legislation sponsored by state Senator Kenneth P. LaValle and Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr. The legislation is a response to last year’s ruling by a state Supreme Court Judge, which declared null and void two amendments to the Suffolk County Code allowing the county, through its Farmland Committee, to grant farmers hardship exemptions for structures like deer fencing and temporary hoop houses.

The ruling left the farming community in a state of limbo as landowners did not know what they were or weren’t allowed to do on their preserved land. This uncertainty caused landowners to reconsider entering into Suffolk County’s long established and historically successful Farmland Protection Program. The proposed state legislation seeks to remedy the confusion caused by the ruling and to ease concerns in the agricultural community, thus encouraging participation of landowners in the program.

“Farms in Suffolk County generate hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue and create thousands of jobs. As a mom, I value the ability to feed our kids and our families fresh local foods,” said Legislator Bridget Fleming. “We can only have access to that food, if our farmers can operate reasonably.”

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