Renewal Plan Praised As Model

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As Harbor Committee chairman Bruce Tait listened to consultant Stephen Handel explain an ecological restoration plan for a Long Point Road, Sag Harbor homeowner, there were a number of moments where he glanced at fellow committee members George Pharoah and Dr. Tom Halton in disbelief.

For a committee that has recently engaged in several battles to simply ensure a minimum 25-foot vegetative buffer to wetland areas in the village, hearing a restoration plan that includes the addition of 65 native trees, 220 native shrubs and 7000 square feet of native grasses and wildflowers, with nary a fertilized lawn in sight, seemed to take the board aback.

“I’m pretty impressed,” said Tait following the presentation. “I would like to keep this plan as a guide for what we can tell other people to do … it just sounds terrific.”

On Monday, August 11, the Harbor Committee heard Handel, backed by a handful of environmental consultants and attorneys present the re-vegetation plan, which along with a drainage plan was what the Harbor Committee asked for at last month’s meeting. Handel is representing Blair Effron, 34 Long Point Road, who is seeking to demolish a residence on the property and rebuild a new home.

Handel, a plant ecologist out of Rutgers University, explained that salt marsh and then inland trees surround the parcel, which is at the end of Long Point Road and juts out into the cove. His goal, he said, was to see how the site could be improved ecologically.

Invasive plants – like the Tree of Heaven, Russian Olive and invasive shrub species – have dominated the landscape on the property, he said. Handel presented a planting plan showing the reintroduction of a number of native trees, shrubs and grasses, after the removal of the invasive plants. The native species, he noted, are sustainable, do not require fertilization and support the ecological needs of the area.

In addition to protecting the salt marsh and creating buffers of native trees and shrubs, in lieu of a lawn, he proposes a wildflower and native grass butterfly meadow.

“This is a rare habitat for Sag Harbor,” said Handel. “There are very few meadows left.”

In a letter to the Harbor Committee, village environmental planning consultant Rich Warren said the project plan has environmental advantages over what is currently there, and praised the restoration plan, he asked the committee consider a two-phase approval. As a part of the approval, the applicants have to construct a project-limiting fence with hay bales to buffer the salt marsh, and Warren would like to see the first half of the approval apply solely to work inside that fence. Any work outside the fence, and close to the salt marsh, would come back to the committee for further review.

The committee approved the plan, with Warren’s recommendations. 

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