Sag Harbor Mandates ‘Innovative-Alternative” Septic Systems

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Beginning April 1, Sag Harbor will join the other municipalities on the South Fork that require “innovative and alternative” or “I/A” on-site septic systems that actively reduce nitrogen output at all new residential construction; whenever any substantial upgrade or replacement of a conventional septic system is required by the Suffolk County Department of Health Services; whenever the floor area of a building is increased by 25 percent or more; and for all nonresidential properties that require site plan review.

The Sag Harbor Village Board enacted the law, which is intended to reduce the nitrogen loading that is harming the health of the Peconic Bay system, without discussion in a unanimous vote at its regular month meeting on Tuesday, March 12.

Also on Tuesday, the Village Board unanimously and without discussion adopted a parking ban on the east side of the Bridgehampton-Sag Harbor Turnpike — also known in the incorporated village as Main Street — from the village boundary northward for 200 feet.  Requested by the police chief, the ban is intended to prevent Reid Brothers garage from using the street to store customer cars, as was its practice south of the village line before the Town of Southampton banned parking along a 380-foot stretch there at the urging of volunteers who take care of the Nancy Boyd Willey pocket park in front of the Reid Brothers property. The said the parked cars were damaging the edge of the park and blocking it from view.

There was no significant opposition during public hearings this winter on either proposal except from Reid Brothers owner Robert Reid, who said the parking ban would harm his business and might force him to cut back on the 20,000 money-losing state vehicle inspections he conducts at the garage each year, including the 35 he does for village-owned vehicles. After hearing him speak, the Village Board tabled the proposal in February to assess its impact on Mr. Reid’s business.

In the case of the “I/A’ septic system requirement, the Village Board appears to have accepted a recommendation from Harbor Committee member John Parker urging that the law, originally drafted to cover only residential properties, cover commercial properties as well —even though many in and near the central business district don’t need on-site septic systems if they connect to the municipal sewer system, as they are required to it if a sewer main is nearby. The new law requires installation of an I/A system for “all nonresidential properties that require site plan review,” which covers all construction except one- and two-family houses from site-plan review.

Rebates from state, county and town sources are available to pay for I/A septic system installations, which can cost $20,000. In Southampton Town, where I/A system are required close to shorelines, the rebates nevertheless can be used anywhere in town. In East Hampton Town, I/A system are required across the town.

In Southampton, the town will subsidize the installation through its Community Preservation Fund up to $20,000 of the cost for people earning less than $300,000 a year; up to 50 percent for those earning more than $300,000 up to $500,000; and 25 percent for those earning more than $500,000 up to $1 million. In East Hampton, a maximum rebate of 100 percent of the costs up to $16,000 is available for properties in designate water protection districts, not including new construction. In other areas of town, a rebate to cover 75 percent of the cost up to $10,000 is available, although people who meet the income/asset requirements for affordable housing may receive 100 percent of the costs up to $16,000.

In addition, Suffolk County’s Reclaim Our Water Septic Improvement Program offers a rebate of up to $30,000 in combined state and county funding for homeowners who replace their aging septic systems and a 15-year loan at 3-percent to cover any balance. New construction is not eligible.

In Other Business

In other business during the brief meeting, the board once again postponed taking action of a proposed local law to create an Outer Management Area beyond the breakwater where boat owners would be required to register with the village if they moor for more than 14 consecutive days. Mayor Sandra Schroeder said the continuing hearing on the proposal, which has been open since January, will have to be re-advertised for the April meeting because the proposal is being modified to delete a section that would boats that anchor more than 14 days to register. “We’re not looking to be quite so restrictive,” the mayor commented.

The board also tabled action of a proposal that would allow it to pierce the state cap on an annual increase of more than 2-percent in the tax levy. The mayor said it would be re-advertised for a meeting on March 29.

Also at the session, builder David Rimland asked the board whether or not it would allow the owner of 91 Long Island Avenue, Eric Miller, to fix a flooding problem on the edge of the street at his property where he said buses often park illegally, turning the puddles to muddy scars. Mr. Miller would pay for curbing and drywells to solve the problem, Mr. Rimland said.

Mayor Sandra Schroeder warned a curb would just force water to flow further along the street and board members said they could give no response until Mr. Miller had an engineer design a specific proposal and submit it to the Village Clerk for review by the village engineer and other municipal officials.

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