Harbor Planners Urge Code Change to Control Waterfront Uses

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Village attorney Denise Schoen and environmental planning consultant Kathy Eiseman will send a memo to the Sag Harbor Village Board of Trustees on behalf of the village’s planning board asking the trustees to consider a second look at the code that governs development on key waterfront parcels in Sag Harbor.

Just over a dozen properties stretching from Redwood down to Bay Street are zoned as part of the “waterfront district” under the village code, comprised primarily of existing yacht yards and boat basins and the few waterfront parcels that remain vacant like the land anticipated to become the John Steinbeck Waterfront Park next to the Lance Corporal Jordan C. Haerter Veterans Memorial Bridge.

During a meeting of the Planning Board on Tuesday — where the lone agenda item was tabled to a future date — chairwoman Kay Lawson suggested it was time to take a second look at zoning in the waterfront district. The goal, said Ms. Lawson and Ms. Eiseman, would be to protect what are environmentally sensitive parcels, but also the uses that have defined Sag Harbor as a waterfront community for centuries.

There are only a handful of permitted uses — fish market, sail loft and canvas shop, ship/marine chandlery, marine surveyor, naval architect and yacht sales and charters — with a similarly limited amount of special exception uses allowed in the “waterfront district.” According to Ms. Schoen, while the uses are limited and protective of Sag Harbor’s maritime history, protecting development from becoming too intense is another thing to consider.

“My thinking is we do need to look at the development potential of these parcels in terms of coverage — the number of stories, the number of uses,” Ms. Schoen said. “Maybe it is being covered and maybe it is something we don’t need to worry about, but I think it is worth taking a look at and would factor into our [Local Waterfront Revitalization Plan] update.”

Ms. Schoen added that being protective of over-development is one concern but that protecting Sag Harbor’s culture and heritage on the waterfront is also “critical.”

“I think now is a good time to look at what max build-out looks like and make sure we are covered,” she said.

 

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