Plan Aired To Replace Waterfront House; Wetlands Violation

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Landscape architect Ian Hanbach of LaGuardia Design Group describes native plantings that would replace much of an existing lawn at 62 John Street during a hearing on the application of Jeffrey Rosenberg to replace a one-story house with a two-story house, pool, spa and terrace before the Sag Harbor Village Harbor Committee on Monday, July 9. peter boody photo

A plan to demolish a one-story house on a two-thirds-acre waterfront parcel at 62 John Street and replace it with a two-story house with pool, spa, terrace and dock drew a cool response from at least one member of the Sag Harbor Village Harbor Committee on Monday.

Also on Monday, committee Chairman John Shaka described a violation of state and local wetlands regulations at the Sag Harbor Villas condominiums on West Water Street, where he said, “a pile of rubble” had been “dumped over the shorefront” at 68 West Water Street.

“A pile of rubble dumped over the shorefront” at 68 West Water Street Monday afternoon, as Harbor Committee Chairman John Shaka described it at the committee’s meeting on Monday, has prompted Building Inspector Thomas Preiato to alert the State Department of Environmental Conservation of a violation of the state Tidal Wetlands Act and to prepare to issue a ticket to the property owners association at Sag Harbor Villas for what he called “a definite violation” of the village wetlands code. Peter Boody photo

The material is visible from the LCpl. Jordan C. Haerter Veterans Memorial Bridge, where committee member Jeff Peters said he had noticed it. Prior to Mr. Peters driving on the bridge, the village had already been informed about the situation via an anonymous letter. 

Sag Harbor Building Inspector Tom Preiato wrote in an email on Tuesday “it is a definite violation of the wetland code … I am in touch with our counsel as to the issuance of a ticket” to the homeowners’ association at the Villas.

The owner of unit 68 West Water street, Robert Ratcliffe, declined to comment when reached by phone Tuesday.

At a hearing on the wetlands-permit applicant of Jeffrey Rosenberg for the John Street property on Monday, his consultants touted several changes from what’s on the property now that they said would reduce its environmental impact on adjacent wetlands.

But board member Jeff Peters said the proposed house would be “too big” for the lot, making significant variances necessary from the village’s wetlands setback requirements as well as from the zoning code. Also, board member John Parker said he wanted to see the applicant install a nitrogen-reducing septic system instead of the currently proposed conventional passive system.

The existing house contains 1,628 square feet of floor area and is located 53 feet from the wetlands boundary. It has a shed 44 feet from wetlands. They would be replaced with a new two-story house containing 1,830 square feet of floor area on top of 500 cubic yards of fill to raise the ground level 10 feet.

Landscape architect Ian Hanbach of LaGuardia Design Group describes native plantings that would replace much of an existing lawn at 62 John Street during a hearing on the application of Jeffrey Rosenberg to replace a one-story house with a two-story house, pool, spa and terrace before the Sag Harbor Village Harbor Committee on Monday, July 9. peter boody photo

Proposed environmental improvements include installing a “diverse matrix of native plants” in a 25-foot-wide buffer and removing 12,000-square-feet of lawn, leaving only a small area of a native fescue mix, according to landscape designer Ian Hanbach of LaGuardia Design Group. The grounds will require no fertilizer and, when mature, no irrigation, he said.

The proposed freshwater pool and spa would have an “ozone system” to treat the water instead of chlorine so any overflow would be as benign to plantings and wetlands as store-bought bottled water, according to Mr. Hanbach.

He described the overall landscaping plan as “mutually beneficial to Sag Harbor and the homeowner.”

The 24,940-square feet parcel, which has water on two sides, is “one of the largest parcels in the neighborhood,” said Bruce Anderson of Suffolk Environmental Consultants. He said the current cesspools are sitting in groundwater while the new septic system will be installed using a four-foot-high retaining wall to elevate it above the water table.

He said county Health Department and state DEC permits have been issued for the system.

The property currently includes a bulkhead on the shore that is filled with gravel and extends the property up to 11 feet into Upper Sag Harbor Cove. Under the plan, the bulkhead would be removed, the site revegetated, and a dock installed with a ramp and float. Two cesspools 30 feet from the wetland boundary between the house and the water also would be removed and replaced with a new septic system.

After a hearing at which a next-door neighbor spoke in support of the plan, the board tabled the application, so it could plan a work session to review the details with its consulting engineer, Charles Voorhis, who has been working with the applicant for the past year on the proposal but was on vacation this week.

Also on Monday, the Harbor Committee approved the wetlands application of Allan Brown to construct a pool house containing slightly less than 200 square foot of floor area at his property at 56 West Water Street.

Board member Jeff Peter said Mr. Brown, who represented himself before the board, had gone “above and beyond” with vegetative planting and runoff control. “I wish everyone would do what he did.”

“Wow, a ringing endorsement,” commented Mr. Shaka.

The board reviewed revised plantings on the Paul Glickman property at 4 West Water Street that board members agreed more than meet their requirements.

Mr. Shaka reported that Southampton Town is now funding water quality improvement projects with its Community Preservation Fund. Mid-July is the date by which the village must submit applications for funding, he added. Beth Kemper, Charles Voorhis and Town Councilman Tommy John Schiavoni “are all on the same page” in the effort to shepherd the village’s proposal to the town’s attention. “This bodes well for the village,” Mr. Shaka said.

The village’s counsel, village attorney Denise Schoen, reported that the Sag Harbor Yacht Yard’s dock reconstruction project is not within the village’s jurisdiction as long as it does not extend, or allow docked boats to extend, beyond the boundaries of the bay-bottom that the yard leases from the state.

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Peter Boody is news editor of The Sag Harbor Express. Previously he was the editor of the Southampton Press for many years and also edited several other papers, including the Shelter Island Reporter and the East Hampton Press, of which he was founding editor. He was a regular correspondent for the New York Times Long Island section and wrote the novel “Thomas Jefferson, Rachel & Me.”