A proposal to overhaul the zoning for a major portion of the Sag Harbor Village waterfront, with the primary goals of protecting views and access to the harbor and maintaining the village’s character, will be curtailed before a final version is presented to the Village Board early this month.
Speaking at a board work session on Wednesday, May 26, Mayor Kathleen Mulcahy said the committee overseeing the zone change had recommended that most of the property zoned Office District will be removed from a proposed Waterfront Overlay District and a related measure that would have expanded the number of permitted retail uses in that district will be dropped altogether.
Public discussion of the effort to employ a form-based code, which seeks to encourage a variety of building styles and uses tailor-made for an area instead of the strict dimensional guidelines of a traditional code, has focused largely on concerns that the expanded uses proposed for the Office District would result in overdevelopment.
“It became more about the allowed uses in the Office District than it did about waterfront zoning,” the mayor said in an interview this week, with many onlookers “getting caught up in the minutiae of the use changes.”
While removing much of the Office District from the area being targeted “will take away much of the angst, that’s not why we’re doing it,” she said.
The reason lies instead with a simultaneous effort, under the direction of Trustee Aiden Corish, to obtain a grant from the Southampton Town Community Preservation Fund for an engineering study of the area between Bridge and Meadow streets as part of an ongoing effort to expand the area connected to the village sewage treatment plant.
Topographical maps provided by Cameron Engineering showed that much of the area is at or below sea level, meaning that any new construction would be required to include barriers between the foundation and the groundwater, which would, in turn displace that groundwater, potentially resulting in flooding elsewhere.
Ms. Mulcahy said planners concluded it made little sense to press on with rezoning that portion of the village until further study is done.
“Let’s just take pause and take a look at this so we know what we’re talking about,” Mr. Corish said in an interview this week. He conceded that the late change in direction could be seized upon by those who have opposed the rezoning effort. “That’s a fair point,” he said. “But what are you going to do? Bury your head in the sand?”
Several parcels in the Office District will remain in the proposed overlay district including the condos under construction by developer Jay Bialsky, the National Grid gas ball parking lot, and the United States Post Office. Property owned by the Schiavoni family is also in the
Office District, but was not included in a moratorium because the owners were already before the Planning Board for a new building.
A final version of the new zoning proposals is tentatively set to be presented to the Village Board when it meets on June 8, with a hearing scheduled for the following month.