New Public Hearing Planned for West Water Street Townhouses

Model of 2 West Water Street condo project displayed at Harbor Committee meeting on Monday. Building 3, the closest to the water, is in foreground. Peter Boody photo

Developer Jay Bialsky’s proposed townhouse development at 2 West Water Street is officially slated for a new public hearing before the Sag Harbor Board of Historic Presentation and Architectural Review.

The review board, under the leadership of interim chairman Dean Gomolka, set a new hearing for Thursday, March 14, at the start of the board’s regular meeting at 5 p.m. It will be held in the second-floor meeting room of the municipal building at 55 Main Street.

Mr. Bialsky’s recent changes to “unit three,” the residential unit closest to the water, motivated the board to plan the new public hearing. It was not a mandatory action; according to village code, the board could also have simply voted to re-open the previous hearing, which was closed on January 24.

The changes, according to a presentation made February 11 by Mr. Bialsky’s representatives at a meeting of the village’s Harbor Committee, include a five-foot reduction in its height and a one-third reduction in the area of the third floor. Mr. Bialsky’s physical three-dimensional model has already been updated with a new miniature depicting the third unit.

During last week’s review board meeting, Mr. Bialsky’s representatives originally requested the board postpone a full discussion of his plans to the board’s February 28 meeting. The board obliged. However, at the end of the meeting, after everyone in the audience had already left, the board voted to establish a new public hearing.

In addition to setting the new hearing, review board members on Thursday asked Brian DeSesa, one of Mr. Bialsky’s attorneys, for additional drawings beyond what the village had already received.

While acknowledging the project has “made great progress,” board member David Berridge said, “The pictorial drawings are not helping the understanding. … It’s almost there. I’d like to see the full site with all three buildings relevant to each other so we can really look at it in the whole.”

The site plan for 2 West Water Street is still under review by the Sag Harbor Planning Board, which meets next on February 26.

Board Slams Rysam Street House Design

A proposed renovation of 24 Rysam Street that would elongate the footprint of the house by 13 feet and add shed-style dormers to make the second floor more useful left the review board feeling frustrated last Thursday.

“We’re turning that into a sausage and putting a bun on top of it,” Mr. Berridge said of the proposal.

The plans also call for raising the house six inches to avoid flooding while leaving as much of the 16-by-24 foot original structure intact as the property owner deems possible, according to architect Anthony Vermandois, who took on the assignment a few weeks ago after a previous architect left the project. The house is about 1,100 square feet presently, Mr. Vermandois said, and would be just under 2,000 square feet as proposed.

Zach Studenroth, the review board’s historic preservation consultant, called the renovation “aggressive” and said “what we’re left with is very little idea of what the original house was, except for that front façade.”

“I don’t think a one-and-a-half story house of this period ever wants to be a two-story house,” he said.

Board member John “Chris” Connor said he liked the house’s existing one-story kitchen entrance, which the renovation would have removed.

“It’s sweet. It’s a little quirk that I quite like, and unfortunately, you’re proposing to take that down,” Mr. Connor said.

Mr. Vermandois said he would take those notes to his client and return to the board, which tabled the matter to its February 28 meeting.

Cinema Vote Postponed Again

Representatives of the Sag Harbor Cinema Arts Center will have to go back before the review board on February 28 after the board decided it still needed more information and adjustments to the cinema’s construction plans.

Recent changes to the current proposal include limiting the increased height for the new third floor to 12 feet only for the planned virtual reality room, rather than for the entire third floor. The maximum height of the building would then be 38.5 feet. However, the cinema representatives’ presentation last Thursday lacked formal schematics, and some on the review board felt parts of their design requests had not been explored, so the discussion was tabled for the third time.

Interim board chairman Dean Gomolka reminded April Gornik, vice president of the Sag Harbor Partnership, the nonprofit organization that is rebuilding the cinema, that every aspect of the plans needs to be documented.

She replied by saying, “That seems totally reasonable.”