North Haven Wants Third Survey Before Vote on Baum Dock Bid

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North Haven Trustee Chris Fiore shows a rendering of Larry Baum’s proposed dock during the Village Board’s July 7 Zoom session and the dock's apparent position in relation to neighbor Susan Dusenberry’s house in background. He said the dock “pretty much destroys” Ms. Dusenberry’s “quiet enjoyment” of her property.

North Haven Mayor Jeff Sander last week called for the village to hire a surveyor to conduct its own independent hydrological survey of the bay bottom where resident Larry Baum proposes to build dock off his property at 59 Mashomack Drive in North Haven Manor.

Its goal would be to determine if the dock will have enough depth of water to meet village requirements. A neighbor opposing the application has submitted a survey showing it does not.

The Village Board agreed with the mayor, voting 4-0 at the July 7 regular monthly board session to hold over its hearing on the Baum proposal — which it opened in May — until next month’s meeting on August 11. Meanwhile, the village can have its own survey prepared before the board makes a decision whether or not to grant a permit for the dock.

Trustee David Saskas, a surveyor who has worked for Mr. Baum and prepared his dock survey, recused himself from the discussion and vote.

The survey prepared by Mr. Saskas for Mr. Baum based on 2018 hydrological data, shows the proposed 164-foot-long dock will meet the requirement for at least 2.5 feet of depth at mean low water off the end of the structure, which extended 100 feet from the mean low water line.

The more recent survey, prepared by Michael Hemmer for Ms. Dusenberry, based on 2020 data and submitted by her attorney Dennis Downes, shows the dock would have to be extended 23 feet to reach adequate depth. Mr. Downes has said that drifting sands have changed the bay bottom since Mr. Saskas’s data was collected.

Docks over 100 feet in length from the mean low water line are not permitted under the village code. Mr. Downes has urged the board to deny a permit for the dock on that basis.
“The village would have to grant a variance to let the dock be built” to a greater length, Mr. Downes wrote in a letter that Mayor Sander read into the record at the July 7 session.

Trustee Fiore said he was “a pro-dock guy” who had been frustrated when he formerly lived on a waterfront parcel on Robertson Drive because the village has a moratorium on new docks on the Noyac Bay shoreline.

But he added that “the position of the dock pretty much destroys the neighbor’s right of ‘quiet enjoyment’ of her property,” a phrase he said was always included in the leases for stores that he negotiated for major retailers during his corporate career. He suggested adding a bend to the deck to turn it away from the Dusenberry property.

“We’ll try to look at it,” said Mr. Baum. He told Mr. Fiore that he appreciated “your support for the dock” but said that relocating it further away from Ms. Dusenberry’s property “is going to be hard to do.”

Among the correspondence read into the record by the mayor was a letter from Mr. Baum’s environmental consultant, Susan F. Herrmann of En-Consultants in Southampton, who wrote that opponents have made “misleading statements” charging that the dock — and the proposed rebuilt house on the upland associated with it — will damage the wetlands in the adjacent 60-acre Loveridge Preserve, a marsh and pond system protected by a conservation easement given by the Loveridge family in 1993 to the Peconic Land Trust.

In other letters, Kevin McAllister of Defend H20 urged the board to “prioritize environmental protection” and reject the dock; village resident Anthony Coron questioned Mr. Baum’s deletion of electric and water service from the dock proposal, saying Mr. Baum “could apply” for it “in the future”; and Mr. Downes, who cited as relevant case history the village of Asharoken’s decision to deny a dock in Northport Bay, which was upheld in court.

Noting the village has two conflicting surveys before it, he urged it to conduct its own hydrological survey to determine the facts.

Mr. Baum objected to “asking me to pay for a third survey” and noted that the survey he submitted with his application had been prepared “by a village trustee who is a good engineer.”

“I believe we’ll need to do another survey that’s independent,” Mr. Sander said. “That’s probably the direction we’ll go.” He also said that “we’ve never had a complete package that addressed all the points raised” by critics during the hearing. He called on Mr. Baum to submit a “consistent set of documents” for the board to review. The plans “need to match the Saskas survey,” he added.

“The position of the dock meets the requirements” of the village code for setbacks, the mayor said, “but it has an impact on the neighbor. It’s clearly in front of the neighbor’s house.” There is land available, he said, to the south, and moving the dock in that direction might mitigate the problem.

Mr. Baum said Ms. Dusenberry chose to angle her house southward on her property so that it looked over his property’s waterfront.

“I think her property faces that way,” Mr. Sander said. “She didn’t turn her house.”

Also at the July meeting, which was conducted remotely via Zoom and drew maximum of more than 20 participants, the mayor and trustees rejected a push by David Sherwood, the chairman of the Village Board of Architectural Review, and ARB member Glenn Lawton, to quash the impending relocation of the village-owned old schoolhouse from the corner of Ferry Road and Payne Avenue to the Village Hall property, where it will be operated as a museum.

They said the architecture of the two structures would clash and urged the village to consider relocating the schoolhouse on a “parkland promenade” they envision to link the old cemetery on Ferry Road with Ryder Pond via a scenic “viewshed” that northbound drivers on Ferry Road could see.

Mr. Lawton said the difference between the village’s plan, which has been in the works for years, and the proposed parkland promenade is “the difference between Disneyland and Monticello, and I’m voting for Monticello.”

The mayor said he saw “no reason to change direction” on the schoolhouse move. As for creating a new park, he added, that was a big topic that should be considered only after the schoolhouse relocation is completed. Board members agreed.

The board on July 7 also conducted routine annual official appointments, with no surprises; discussed seeking a lower speed limit on village streets and acquiring a speed-warning sign; and heard the mayor say he wants to invite John Rocchetta, who manages the village’s annual bow hunt to reduce the deer population, to next month’s meeting to present his annual report. The mayor said Mr. Rocchetta and his hunters had taken 123 deer during the past season.

Also on July 7, the board amended the date for village elections — normally held in June but postponed because of the state’s coronavirus lockdown — to Tuesday, September 15, from noon to 9 p.m. in Village Hall. Four board seats will be on the ballot: those held by Mayor Sander, newly appointed Trustee Chris Fiore, and sitting Trustees David Saskas and Dianne Skilbred.

In addition, the board agreed to grant permission for a wedding with a maximum of 20 guests to take place on the beach in front of a property Sunset Beach Road on September 12, subject to neighbors’ approval.

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