The newly reopened Harbor Market. Photo by Stephen J. Kotz.
By Stephen J. Kotz
For the second time in two weeks, the Sag Harbor Village Board on Tuesday was met with calls for a stricter stance on development.
Jeffrey Bragman, an attorney for neighbors of the Harbor Market and Kitchen, which opened two weeks ago in the former Espresso Market at the corner of Division and Henry streets, urged the board to seek a court injunction to close the business, which opened two weeks ago, until it obtains a certificate of occupancy.
“When you have a developer making decisions about which process they are going to follow and which they are going to defy, then you’ve lost control of the village,” he said.
Mr. Bragman said the market was still waiting on the village Zoning Board of Appeals to rule on whether its use of basement space for food preparation should be considered an expansion of a nonconforming commercial use in a residential neighborhood. It also needs a pyramid-law variance for mechanical equipment placed on the roof last winter.
The appearance of that heating and ventilation equipment started a campaign among neighbors against the market. One of those neighbors, David Cripps, said he and his wife had been looking forward to the market’s opening “until the roof equipment was installed without a visual barrier and, it seems, absent the normal zoning procedural steps.” Like other neighbors, he said he was disturbed by noise from the equipment. “The political process has to be made to work,” he told the board of the need to enforce the code.
Mr. Bragman added that fines would simply be treated as the cost of doing business. “You must close this use down if your zoning code will have any credibility,” he said, “so I’m asking you to do that tonight.” His comments were met by applause from many in the audience.
Trustee Sandra Schroeder, who was filling in for Mayor Brian Gilbride who had to leave the meeting early, said that village attorney Denise Schoen was looking into the village’s options for dealing with the market, but the board stopped short of promising action, telling the audience it needed to wait until it received legal advice.
The board also heard from two former chairmen of its Board of Historic Preservation and Architectural Review, who told them not enough was being done to protect the historic character of the village.
Anthony Brandt reminded the board that the ARB has “full power to deny building applications” in the entire village, not just the historic district. “What we have now is a pretty powerful law,” he said. “We just need to use it.”
Chris Leonard agreed the laws were in place to rein in development. “It’s a matter of education…. So that people understand and can work in concert to administer and enforce the laws we have,” he said.
Parking and Tickets
With the summer season just around the corner, it should come as no surprise that complaints about parking and congestion in the business district also occupied a large amount of the board’s time on Tuesday.
The board passed a pair of local laws, one that would limit parking on various village streets and raise the fine for parking violations from $50 to $75 and another that will limit parking to two hours in the small municipal parking lot at the corner of Division and Washington streets. A third measure will limit the use of three parking spaces on the north side of the village police headquarters during weekdays to those with official business at the Municipal Building.
Police Chief Tom Fabiano urged the board to act quickly on the law raising parking fines, saying the department was running low on parking tickets and he had recently ordered a new batch for the coming season.
The law will also limit parking in all spaces on Marine Park Drive and West Water Street to no more than 24 hours and imposed a blanket restriction for leaving cars on any village street to no more than seven straight days. Another portion of the law would prohibit parking within 30 feet of many intersections.
Trustee Ed Deyermond said he thought portions of the new law were “hazy” and could lead to trouble with enforcement and questioned whether the village planned to paint lines to mark no-parking zones near corners, but Chief Fabiano said the intersections would be marked with no-parking signs.
The board also decided to limit parking in the Washington Street lot over the objection of village merchant Nada Barry.
“This certainly will help some of our Washington Street merchants,” said Mayor Gilbride.
“And where are our employees supposed to park? asked Ms. Barry.
“Most of those stores are closed during the week, they are only open on weekends,” she added. “I just think it’s unfair.”
The board agreed that three spaces on the north side of the police station lot should be reserved on week days between the hours of 7:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. for those with official business at the Municipal Building, including village employees.
“Are they so much better than all our employees?” asked Ms. Barry.
Mr. Gilbride cast the sole no vote, saying “We always said that was going to be public parking, that was always an issue.”
Board members expressed frustration with the continuing construction work at the Watchcase condominiums in the former Bulova factory on Division Street, and said they were not inclined to agree to Sag Development Partners’ request that a temporary reversal in the direction of Church Street from southbound to northbound be made permanent. The board agreed with Chief Fabiano’s recommendation that Sage Street, once two-way, be left as it is now, one-way away from Division Street.
And the developers received a flat-out “no” to their request to place Dumpsters on Sag Street while they pave an interior road. Although Sag Development Partners’ representative, Arthur Blee, said it would “not be fair” to place the Dumpsters in the St. Andrew’s Catholic Church parking lot, which the firm has an agreement to use, Mayor Gilbride disagreed. “It’s not fair on the streets, either,” he said, “taking up parking spaces for Dumpsters that are there for months at a time.”
Pointing to construction equipment blocking streets, Mr. Gilbride said, “those are things that really causing difficulty to residents and to us.”
“It’s Memorial Day,” added Mr. Deyermond. “I think it’s over.”