Sag ARB Set to Review New Harbor Heights Plans

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Next Thursday, September 8, the Sag Harbor Historic Preservation and Architectural Review Board (ARB) will weigh in on plans by Harbor Heights Service Station owner John Leonard to build a convenience store and reconfigure the gas station at the Route 114 business.

The review comes after Leonard announced he has changed the design of the convenience store in an effort to reduce the number of variances the project needs from the village’s zoning board of review in order to be constructed.

Last month, Leonard’s attorney Dennis Downes presented the planning board with the new design for the project. This came after zoning board members said they were happy with the location of the proposed project on the property, but would like to see the development’s overall size reduced if possible. Downes noted that Leonard feels he can not make a return on his investment if the convenience store is 600-square-feet, as required by the village code. Instead, Leonard has proposed a 1,000 square-foot store.

In order to reduce the number of variances needed from the original design, Leonard had an alleyway between the store and the Sag Harbor Service Station — a second business that operates on the property that will also be renovated — eliminated. This pulls the two buildings together into one structure which Downes said has increased the setback to Route 114 from 15-feet to 27-feet.

Leonard’s engineer Chris Tartaglia noted they will still need a variance from the zoning board, as the village requires a 50-foot setback, but he added that changes like this one make a big impact in the kind of relief Leonard will need.

The overall height of the store has also been reduced to 20-feet, meaning Leonard will no longer need a variance for height of the structure. However, the building will now have a metal roof as opposed to a shingled roof in order to make it more squat.

It is this aspect of the new design that the Sag Harbor ARB will be asked to weigh in on, as well as the possibility that Leonard could change the required canopy for the gas pumps — now designed with a mansard roof to appear more residential — to a flat roof seen at most gas stations.

The Sag Harbor ARB meets at 5 p.m.

CPF Slightly Up for 2011, But Down for July

Last week, Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr. announced that revenues for the Peconic Bay Community Preservation Fund (CPF) produced $4.47 million in revenue for the Peconic Bay region for July 2011. This compares with $5.52 million a year ago.

This marks a seven-month total for 2011 of $35.98 million, which is 0.1 percent higher than last year’s totals for the same time period when $35.93 million was collected.

This year there have been 3,339 transactions compared with 3,590 for the same period in 2010. Since its inception in 1999, the Peconic Bay Regional Community Preservation Fund has generated $699.57 million. The CPF expires in 2030.

Based on recent activity, the CPF revenues are projected to be in the $60 million range for 2011. Revenues for 2010 totaled $58.78 million.

In East Hampton Town, revenues were down 29.7 percent in the first seven months of 2011 — the town collecting just over $8 million as opposed to $11.43 million in 2010.

Riverhead has also seen a decline of 21 percent and collected $1.10 million this year compared to $1.40 million last year. Shelter Island is down 35 percent, taking in $520,000 this year as opposed to $800,000 last year.

Two towns that have seen increases are Southold and Southampton. Southold Town has had a 3 percent increase in revenues, taking in $1.95 million so far in 2011 compared to $1.89 in 2010. Southampton Town witnessed the biggest gains, a close to 19 percent increase in CPF revenues, taking in $24.36 million so far in 2011 as opposed to $20.49 million during the same time last year.

Parish Art Museum Space Discussion on Thursday

After scheduling a public meeting on the future of the Parrish Art Museum space at 25 Jobs Lane in Southampton Village for Tuesday evening, in the wake of last weekend’s storm, Southampton Village officials have rescheduled the meeting for tonight, Thursday, September 1 at 5 p.m.

The meeting is an effort to publicly present the results of a visioning process and discuss the future of the historic Jobs Lane site, now occupied by the museum. The Parrish Art Museum is currently constructing its own building on Route 27 in Water Mill and will end its long standing lease with Southampton Village when it moves into its new home by next summer.

In anticipation of the vacancy at the Jobs Lane site, the village has proposed the formation of a new cultural entity — The Southampton Center of the Arts — as a part of an overall plan to create an arts district in the Village of Southampton.

Last month, Webb Management Services, a firm hired by the village to help develop a plan for the site, presented members of the public as well as the Southampton Village Planning Commission with four possible designs of varying sizes. Each showed how the center could be laid out and what services it could provide if the village chooses to move forward with their plans.

The center was conceived to include not only classroom and gallery space celebrating the visual arts, but also performing arts space and an outdoor amphitheater. The village also envisions creation of a separate conservation organization. No matter which project is selected, this group would be aimed at preserving and improving the existing arboretum on the grounds.

In addition to Southampton Village Mayor Mark Epley, other members of the Southampton Center of the Arts Founder’s Committee will also speak about the project, including Southampton Cultural Center Chairman Thomas Knight and Southampton Planning Commission Chairman Siamak Samii.

Thiele Slams Efforts to “Manage” Natural Resources

Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr. blasted efforts by the New York State Legislature to “manage” New York’s Natural Resources through a new law. That law prohibits the taking of striped bass for commercial purposes out of the Hudson River from the George Washington Bridge to the federal dam at Troy and Thiele maintains it was ill-advised and is poor policy.

This new law — which will sunset on April 1, 2015 — extends an already existing, ongoing ban on commercial take of striped bass in the Hudson River.

Striped bass have always been an important recreational and commercial fish in New York, said Thiele. Until the mid 1980s, striped bass were relatively rare in the Hudson River because a small minimum size —16 inches — was set for recreational and commercial take in the ocean. This small limit resulted in immature fish being killed before they could migrate back to the Hudson River to spawn. In the mid-1990s, stricter management measures, including an increase in the minimum size limit, were instituted and the Hudson River stock rebounded.

Thiele points out that scientific data indicates that re-opening the Hudson River commercial striped bass fishery would not lead to a depletion of the Hudson River striped bass stock. He noted the most recent stock assessment conducted by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) completed in 2009 indicated that striped bass are not over fished. According to ASMFC, said Thiele, the striped bass population has increased from less than nine million fish in 1982 to over 70 million fish in 2004 and spawning stock biomass remains well above the threshold and target levels.

“The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) has a rigorous, and widely respected stripped bass management program, which includes regulatory, tracking and monitoring measures,” noted Thiele. “NYSDEC data indicates that the Hudson River striped bass fishery can support a commercial fishery.”

More so, Thiele continued, the NYSDEC and the New York State Department of Health have been regularly monitoring the PCB levels in Hudson River striped bass. He added the monitoring indicates that PCB levels in Hudson River striped bass have sharply declined since 1976.

“The State Legislature is nowhere qualified to manage this fish species,” said Thiele. “The NYSDEC, our State agency responsible for protecting and managing our great natural resources, has the scientific and management expertise to determine whether or not the ban should be extended. The recent actions by the Legislature were obviously not scientifically-based because there is no biological reason to continue the ban on commercial take from the Hudson.”

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