House Expansion Might Yield Better Public Access In Sag Harbor

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The house at 12 Green Street will be moved away from Sag Harbor's Upper Cove to allow for the installation of a modern wastewater treatment system. STEPHEN J. KOTZ

The owner of a house at the end of Green Street, a cul de sac off of Glover Street, has proposed, as part of a major renovation plan, to clear invasive species from his property as well as a neighboring parcel owned by the Village of Sag Harbor, providing better public access to Upper Sag Harbor Cove in the process.

The village Harbor Committee informally reviewed Mark Harris’s plan to move a 1,565-square-foot house 10 feet from the cove and build about a 1,300-square-foot addition to it when it met on Thursday, October 1.

Brian Desesa, Mr. Harris’s attorney, said by moving the house 10 feet to the east, it would create a 50-foot buffer zone from the wetlands and allow the owner to install an alternative wastewater treatment system as part of the project.

Landscape architect Ed Hollander also spoke for the project. He said he saw it as an opportunity to improve the water quality of the cove.

Mr. Hollander said the shoreline is being overrun by phragmites. He said they would be removed and replaced with native grasses. A steep embankment has been planted with a number of invasive species that would be replaced with native plants, and a lawn area would be replaced with native meadow grasses, he said.

Mr. Desesa said Mr. Harris has agreed to remove phragmites from a parcel owned by the village next to his property. That would provide a new access point for the public to launch kayaks and other small watercraft.

He added that the house is a contributing structure in the village historic district, so the Board of Historic Preservation and Architectural Review must also review the application.

The Zoning Board of Appeals has already approved variances to allow the project to move forward. The Harbor Committee agreed to schedule the matter for a hearing at its November meeting.

The committee also discussed, but took no action on, the application of Pierson House, LLC, for numerous renovations to a house at 314 Main Street. The project calls for the construction of a new foundation for the existing house, a new 12-by-24-foot garage, a 10-by-37.9-foot pool, and new septic system. The applicant has proposed a 50-foot wetland buffer between the property’s improved area and the cove.

Committee members were most focused on whether the project should require an alternative wastewater system instead of a conventional septic system.

The discussion became pointed when committee member Will Sharp said he had found an advertisement on Outeast.com, a real estate website, for a cottage for rent on the property. But Paris Field, the property’s owner, said that was an old ad, dating back a decade, and that the structure is today used for storage. Committee member John Parker pressed the issue, saying he too had seen what appeared to be a current ad offering a furnished cottage. Again, Mr. Field stressed the ad was old and the space was not for rent.

Mr. Field’s attorney, Dennis Downes, said the building — a former workshop — does have a shower and toilet. Mr. Field said they were connected to the existing septic system.

Mr. Sharp said he did not object to a rental unit on the property, saying there is a need for additional rental units in the village, but that he thought if there were two habitable dwellings on the property, a case could be made for one of the new wastewater systems that treat effluent rather than just allowing it to seep slowly into the soil as a traditional septic system does.

Mr. Downes suggested that his client might want to go to the extra effort to install a modern wastewater treatment system, saying it would likely become a requirement in the not-too-distant future and noting that tax credits and rebates could reduce the overall cost.

But Mr. Field was adamant. “This is not a negotiable point,” he said. “If I’m not required to do it, I don’t want to do it.”

The board tabled the matter, pending submission of updated surveys.

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