Sag Harbor Code Change Catches Azurest Home in Grip

Renovations and expansion have been proposed for an approximately 2,000-square-foot cottage at 46 Palmer Terrace. Stephen J. Kotz photo

By Stephen J. Kotz

Walter Oden’s plan to build a modern house on a corner lot fronting on Terry Drive and Walker Avenue has run into the reality of a new Sag Harbor Village height limit for flat-roofed houses, and the application hasn’t even entered the formal review process yet.

Laurie Wiltshire of Land Planning Services, who presented Mr. Oden’s plans to the village Board of Historic Preservation and Architectural Review during an informal discussion session on Thursday, said the original plans called for the house to be 29 feet tall. Earlier in the week, the village adopted a code amendment that reduces the allowed height for flat-roofed houses in the village from 35 to 25 feet.

“That’s certainly going to cause us to look at this again,” she said of the code change. “That’s going to have to be addressed.” Ms. Wiltshire said the project would probably require a pyramid-law variance as well because of the narrow shape of the lot.

A drawing of the proposed two-story house showed a light stucco arrangement of setback cubes, with gray stone accent and black trim. It would have 3,137 square feet of living space one two floors. The lot is about 15,000 square feet.

ARB members focused their attention on the placement of the garage, and its glass door, right next to the front door, on the Terry Drive side of the house.

“It looks like a glorified garage, and you have the garage door overpowering the front door,” said member Dean Gomolka. Another ARB member, Val Florio, suggested that the glass garage door, with its 16 rectangular windows, be screened from view “so it’s not in your face, so it’s more subtle.”

Zach Studenroth, the board’s consultant, said the design “does have a rather industrial look, which is not unusual in an urban setting, but this is a wooded lot.” He suggested that the front door be moved to the Walker Avenue side of the property.

“Rather than having the front door positioned immediately adjacent to the garage door on the narrow side of the lot, if the front door was moved around to the longer side, which is the one that faces Walker, it would then remove that front-facing garage presentation of the house,” he said.

“The garage is going to face one of the streets,” replied Ms. Wiltshire, who said she was concerned switching its placement could have a major impact on the layout of the floor plan. “I don’t know if that is going to work with the program inside the house,” she said.

“See what you can come up with,” suggested member Bethany Deyermond, who chaired the meeting.

The board also heard from Bob Tortora, a builder and developer, who sought guidance on a plan to renovate and expand an approximately 2,000-square-foot cottage at 46 Palmer Terrace that is owned by Michael Voelker.

Mr. Tortora said the plan was to renovate the stucco cottage, which sits atop a small hill on a large lot, and build an addition behind it. He said the addition envisioned would likely result in the appearance of the roof being raised about 18 inches from the street. Mr. Tortora, who renovated a stucco home at 208 Main Street, just south of the Sag Harbor Whaling and Historical Museum, used that project as a reference point, noting that an addition to the rear of the original house was not visible from the street.

The house, built in approximately 1910, is a contributing structure to the village’s historic district, and Mr. Studenroth said the board would typically be loath to approve any change to the roofline, adding, “there may be exceptions.”

Board members agreed in general that they wanted to tread carefully agreed they should try to visit the property before signing off on the plans.