More Pushback on Harbor Proposal; Septic Requirement, Parking Ban Delayed

Village Trustees Kenneth O'Donnell and Thomas Gardella at the February 11 Village Board meeting. Peter Boody photo

There was more pushback last week against the Harbor Committee’s proposed amendment of Sag Harbor’s waterways code to establish an “outer management area” beyond the breakwater and require boats mooring or anchoring there to register, provide proof of insurance and obtain a permit.

The proposal is intended to set rules for an extended area of jurisdiction the state granted Sag Harbor in 2016 beyond the usual 1,500-foot-from-shore limit. Harbormaster Robert Bori requested the extension to address the problem of boats breaking lose from their moorings in storms and sometimes wrecking on the breakwater, which owners might abandon and leave the village responsible for removing.

Holding its second public hearing this winter on the proposal, which the Harbor Committee has been drafting for about two years, the Village Board of Trustees on February 11 heard a number of calls for changes and corrections to an accompanying revised harbor chart; and questions about the permit and proof-of-insurance requirement; about the use of the term “fairway” on the chart; and the designation of marker buoy locations at the boundary of state and village waters north of Havens Beach.

The same concerns were expressed by commercial marina operators and mooring servicers at the first public hearing on the proposal on January 8 and at a Village Board work session on January 23. Trustee Ken O’Donnell and Mr. Bori both said then that they wanted to avoid “over-regulating” the area of extended jurisdiction.

“I want this to be right,” said Mr. O’Donnell said of discussed changes to the revised harbor chart in an interview this week.

As for the proposed rules for the new outer area, “The way it will work,” he said, boaters who own their own moorings “will come and register.” If they use a commercial mooring provider, the provider will register his mooring tenants with the village and pass on their insurance information, he said.

There will be no village fees charges for mooring outside the breakwater, members of the East Hampton Town Trustees who attended the hearing were told last week. They asked that, if ever fees are charged, that East Hampton Town residents be treated the same as village residents.

The February 11 board meeting was dominated Trustee James Larocca’s and other board members’ defense of the village’s proposed vehicle impound lot, as reported in last week’s Express.

Also at the session, the board delayed action after public hearings on three proposed laws, including the Harbor Committee’s waterways amendment; one to require “innovative-alternative” nitrogen-reducing septic systems for new houses; and another to ban parking north of the village boundary on the Bridgehampton-Sag Harbor Turnpike at Ligonee Creek.


Parking Ban

The board agreed to table the proposed parking ban after Reid Brothers garage owner Robert Reid spoke against the proposal, which follows the Town of Southampton’s decision in December to ban parking for 380 feet south of the village line. Intended to keep Mr. Reid from parking overflow customer vehicles in front of the Nancy Boyd Willey pocket park, the proposal reflects Police Chief Austin J. McGuire’s concern that the town’s ban will force Mr. Reid to park cars to the north, over the village line, Mayor Sandra Schroeder has said.

Mr. Reid asked the board, “Why not ban parking in front of Cove Deli?” and said the move will “will make it more expensive” for him to conduct the 20,000 money-losing vehicle inspections he conducts annually as a local service, including the 35 he does for village-owned vehicles. “Obviously, the business will react and I expect to do a lot less,” he said.

He complained that the public attention to his business led to a visit from a town ordinance inspector “and I got a list of violations,” even though it was the park that Mr. Reid charged was “illegally created” in front of his business.

The board agreed to close the hearing on the proposal and, on Trustee Thomas Gardella’s motion, tabled it “to assess the impact” it will have on Mr. Reid’s business.

I/A Septic Requirement

After a hearing last month at which no one spoke in opposition, the board on February 11 appeared set to adopt the proposed amendment to Village Code requiring on-site, low-nitrogen “innovative-alternative” septic systems.

But village attorney Elizabeth Vail told the board she was waiting for “referrals” from the towns of East Hampton and Southampton — which both have similar regulations on the books — before the board acts.

She also reported that the village’s environmental consultant, Charles Voorhis of Nelson, Pope & Voorhis, had drafted a “consistency report” confirming that the proposal meets the requirements of the villages LWRP or Local Waterfront Revitalization Plan.

The board voted to accept the report and close the public hearing; it also voted to issue a “negative declaration” under the State Environmental Quality Review Act, a finding that the proposed law will not have an adverse environmental impact.

But first resident Anthony Vermandois, an architect, went to the podium to urge the board to exempt properties from the requirement if they connect to the municipal sewage system, which Village Trustee Aiden Corish is just beginning a long-term effort to expand. His foresees new sewer mains one day extending into waterfront residential areas to the east and west of downtown Sag Harbor, including Redwood and Sag Harbor Hills-Azurest-Ninevah (SANS) area.

In response, Harbor Committee member John Parker warned that adding an exemption based on a future sewer system expansion “might be a disincentive” to homeowners to install an I/A system. He said that chances the expansion will happen “in my lifetime” are probably small.