The interior of the new Harbor Market & Kitchen.
By Stephen J. Kotz
The new Harbor Market & Kitchen, which has been embroiled in a contentious dispute with its neighbors for the past several months, opened for business in Sag Harbor on Thursday.
And it looks like things will remain contentious for the time being, with some of those same neighbors complaining that the market had opened without a certificate of occupancy.
“They are defying the law,” said Jeffrey Bragman, an East Hampton attorney who has represented the market’s opponents before the village’s Board of Historic Preservation and Architectural Review and Zoning Board of Appeals.
“If the village doesn’t take them to court to get a restraining order, which it can very easily get, then the zoning code has no credibility,” he said.
Abbey Warsh, who is partners in the business with Paul and Susana Del Favero, was busy greeting customers at the market in the former Espresso Market space at the corner of Division and Henry streets while Mr. Del Favero tried out a new pizza oven and his wife worked the counter.
The lack of a C.O. was a formality, Ms. Warsh said.
“I’m operating within the code,” she said, adding that village building inspector Tom Preiato had made several inspections of the site and that it meets standards for everything from electrical wiring to wastewater.
She said she did not wait for final rulings from the ARB and ZBA because she feared the complaints of a handful of neighbors would result in the matter being unfairly delayed.
“If I could trust in a process that worked in a timely fashion, I would have waited,” she said.
Ms. Warsh insisted that she wanted to be a good neighbor but had run into a buzz-saw in the form of those neighbors who were insistent on doing everything they could to prevent the business from opening.
While Ms. Warsh said the market’s owners were trying to be neighborly, Andrew Skonka, one of the neighbors who has opposed the market, said that when his wife, Claudie Levinson, tried to enter the store earlier on Thursday, Mr. Del Favero blocked her way and prevented her from opening the door.
“He was very aggressive and told her he did not want her in his store and to stay away from it,” he said.
Neighbors began to complain about the market late last year when a jumble of heating and air conditioning equipment, which for a time was shrouded by tarps, appeared on the roof.
When the market’s owners came before the ARB last winter seeking to permission to screen that equipment, they were met by a crowd of opponents who said the equipment was not only unsightly but noisy.
The neighbor’s attorney, Mr. Bragman, argued the market’s owners had illegally expanded a commercial use in a residential neighborhood, a theme he returned to when the market appeared on the ZBA’s docket.
Neither board has issued a final determination, as they wait, in part, for a sound engineer’s report on a plan to screen the equipment.
“I always meant to screen it,” Ms. Warsh said of the equipment, “because it is not attractive.”
Neighbors would have found that out if they had only come over and spoken to her during the building process, she said. “They never asked for anything, and the solution is simple.”