Letters to the Editor: 7/11/19


Historic Celebration

To the Editor,

The event taking place on the grounds behind The Point House on North Haven July 5th was by no means accidental. It was important for the Society to feature this house as an example of the early architecture in the Sag Harbor area.

We owe an enormous thanks to North Haven’s Mayor Jeff Sander, Marni and Stuart Hersch and Steven Breitenbach for saving and moving this old landmark, now on view for all passing by.

We were delighted to honor the founders of Bay Street Theater, Emma Walton, Steve Hamilton and the deceased Cybil Christopher. The theater stands as an anchor to arts organizations being established in the village. The renovation and reinvention of the Methodist Church and restoration of our iconic cinema are expanding the artful energy and Sag Harbor is becoming the art center of the East End along with our incredible existing art galleries on Main Street.

The Historical Society sends thanks to all who joined in our celebration making our fundraiser hugely successful. Special thanks goes to sponsors, patrons, friends, businesses and guests who contributed to the event. The Society is extremely appreciative for the outpouring of support. Please keep up with us through our website. This Friday at 5 p.m. we start our summer series “Fridays on the Porch.” Karl Grossman will speak to “The Unusual Jewish History of the Hamptons.” Entrance fee is $20. Please come and join us. Until then…


Nancy French Achenbach, President

Sag Harbor Historical Society


Question Presentation

Dear Kathryn,

The residence at 258 Main Street, the L’Hommedieu House, appeared as a “discussion” topic recently on the agenda of both the Board of Historic Preservation and Architectural Review and the Zoning Board of Appeals.

The primary discussion topic was a change to the exterior of the building to create a “hatch door” for “egress” to an “egress platform”, “landing” or “roof deck” to serve as a fire escape from a “habitable” third floor. The presentation to the Board of Historic Preservation and Architectural Review preceded the presentation to the Zoning Board of Appeals, the presenter indicated at the Zoning Board meeting that the Historic Preservation Board had not looked un-favorably on the change. (There had been comments about the description and the platform’s size.)

A few facts that the boards appeared to be un-aware of:

The L’Hommedieu House is a contributing structure in the Sag Harbor Village Historic District (a very significant one).  As such it cannot be modified without the benefit of public hearings and extensive documentation. Any comment in a “discussion” is irrelevant.

The architectural drawings presented to the boards did not appear to be “existing condition” drawings as to floor plans. They showed a fully developed third floor with bedrooms, bath, etc.  This is not the case.  As recently as June 27, 2014, a Certificate of Occupancy Site Inspection Report by the Building Department of the Village of Sag Harbor noted that the third floor/attic is not habitable. The Certificate of Occupancy dated July 21, 2014, certifies a “single family, two-story dwelling …finished and conditioned basement”: no habitable third floor.  Any suggestion or speculation that the space was occupied in 1840 when the house was built is disingenuous and completely irrelevant.

The third floor is not habitable. To become habitable, it would require considerable development of the space and the installation of a sprinkler system and a second means of exit. Creation of habitable space, adding two bedrooms and sanitation facilities, would require approval of the County Health Department. Further, the home already has five bedrooms, adding two more would require additional parking (Bayview is a very narrow street). (Seven bedrooms?  An Air BNB, as some observed?)

The “hatch door” to the “fire escape” would leave the person or persons on a small platform about 20 feet in the air without a means to descend. Would this meet the approval of the fire department or insurers?

It devolved in the discussion that the reason for the “landing” was to accommodate the top of an elevator shaft.

Questions: Do the chairs and members of these boards and the building department simply accept anything presented to them as factually accurate? Do they question or verify anything?  Do they all intend to continue the tradition of blind approvals?  Would it be appropriate to ban “discussion” items? They seem to continually lead to creeping commitments and incomplete reviews. Perhaps at least have the building department flag any presentation that involves a structure in the Historic District, particularly a contributing structure?

Sincerely yours,

Pierce Hance

Jonathan Morse

Sag Harbor


Decline of a Peaceful Life

Dear Editor,

We have lived in Sag Harbor for 40 years and in the last few years the noise from the planes and helicopters has increased to an intolerable level. And, perhaps more important, is the environmental damage being done. The route that I monitor is over the Long Pond Greenbelt where a delicate environmental balance that provides our water systems as well as local flora and fauna that must be damaged by the continued fuel leavings and noise.

On my iPhone i have the app “Airport Noise Report,” and I try to record the flights flying over

our house. There is a map option which shows me exactly where and what the planes are.

This app clearly shows the increase in air traffic on Friday afternoons and Sunday evenings.

To my horror, at times … yes … Friday afternoon, Sunday afternoon and Monday morning, there are often small planes flying one way and helicopters going the opposite way; much too near each other and increasing the noise level. The danger inherent in the closeness of the routes, and the timing of the planes and helicopters every five minutes, makes me wonder who is deciding the routes and who is controlling the air traffic. Is there no oversight?

Perhaps the elected officials of the towns involved could have some influence with the airport.

Or finally decide the airport needs to be closed as it is contributing to the decline of a peaceful life as it is meant to be on the East End.


Ann Chwatsky

Sag Harbor


Unsafe Conditions

Dear Editor

Aircraft traffic overhead on Monday, July 1: 6:56 a.m., Heliflite helicopter, incoming; 7:04 a.m., Gotham helicopter, incoming; 7:06 a.m., Seven Tango Alpha, small plane, overhead; 7:09 a.m., Osprey Express, small plane, overhead; 7:09 a.m., Pine Cove Lift LLC, small plane, overhead; 7:11 a.m., Sikorsky Fractional Sales, helicopter, incoming; 7:12 a.m., Gotham Helicopter, outgoing; 7:13 a.m., Meridian Helicopter, incoming; 7:15 a.m., Wayfarer Ketch helicopter, outgoing; 7:15 a.m., Fly PJ, small plane, overhead; 7:15 a.m., Gotham Helicopter, outgoing; 7:28 a.m., Helicopter Services, incoming; 7:29 a.m., Bascom Aviation, small plane, outgoing; 7:30 a.m., Osprey Express, small plane, outgoing; 7:30 a.m., Mimas Aviation jet, outgoing …

In 34 minutes, 17 aircraft traversed the skies near my home, averaging one flight every two minutes on a Monday morning. As you can see by the log, however, there were times when multiple flights were arriving or departing.

The frequency of disturbance speaks for itself, but one must question whether this concentration and number of flights is safe. It’s only the beginning of the season, and this intensity makes for unsafe conditions — if not in the air, to those on the ground.

Kathleen Cunningham

East Hampton


Help for Housing

Dear Editor,

I would like to congratulate N.Y. State Assemblyman Fred Thiele and N.Y. State Senator Ken LaValle for getting approval in both State chambers for a proposed 0.5% real estate transfer fee for affordable housing on the East End.

The bill would allow a broad range of uses for the funds, from subsidies to first-time homebuyers to the actual building of affordable units by local government.

As readers of The Express know all to well, the need for affordable housing options in the area has never been greater. In order to become law the bill will first need to be signed by the Governor, and approved by town boards and by referendum. If you support the creation of affordable housing options in the East End, please consider calling Governor Cuomo at 518-474-8390 and urging him to sign this bill (State Assembly bill A04941).

With thanks,

Jonas Hagen

Sag Harbor