Lot Line Change, Long in the Works, Finds Favor with Zoning Board

The location of 8 Palmer Terrace, which would be divided among two Main Street properties if the owners' attempts to modify the lot lines are successful. Image via Google Maps

An application that has lingered before Sag Harbor’s regulatory boards for several years took a step forward Tuesday with the Sag Harbor Zoning Board of Appeals looking favorably upon a lot line modification involving three properties that would be reconfigured down to two lots.

The properties involved are 241 Main Street, 237 Main Street and 8 Palmer Terrace. The proposal involves the 8 Palmer Terrace lot being divided among the two Main Street properties and ceasing to exist. The proposal also calls for the address of the cottage of approximately 500 square feet currently located at 8 Palmer Terrace to be to known as 241 Main Street in the future.

“We’re not proposing any new construction at all — not one square foot,” said Riverhead-based attorney Anthony Pasca, who represents Watson Atlantic LLC, the Watson family corporation that owns 241 Main Street.

The plan needed two variances to allow two residential units on one parcel. As a bargaining chip, Mr. Pasca said the Watsons said they would be willing to trade the privilege of having a legal third-floor apartment in the primary residence for the privilege of receiving the cottage in a conforming location on a lot that would be larger following the lot line modification, and would agree to only use it as a guest cottage.

The board’s attorney, Denise Schoen, advised the ZBA to consider the fact that the Palmer Terrace lot, the one with the cottage, could feasibly be redeveloped more substantially. The final proposal would still require approval from the village’s planning board.

“By virtue of the application, you’re reducing density, you’re getting rid of a single, separate lot that could be built out further,” she said. “When you’re weighing the different issues, the issue is: is the detriment of having the two houses on one lot, which can’t get bigger by virtue of gross floor area limitations, worse than having a house on a third lot where the gross floor area could increase?”

Board member Robert Plumb warned that, with the guest cottage and services like Airbnb, “it becomes a little more difficult to enforce” covenants against renting out properties.

“It’s major to allow two residences on one lot,” he said. “It’s very unusual and is a big variance request.”

But four of the five board members were agreeable in a straw poll and the board tabled the application for a written decision at a future meeting.