Sag Harbor Village Deck That Was Subject Of An Arrest Is Back Before Regulatory Boards

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Patti Weinberg stands in her backyard with the neighbor's second-story deck behind her.

An application for a second-story deck that was the subject of controversy in Sag Harbor Village — a controversy that included an arrest — is back before village regulatory boards.

At 8 Dartmouth Road in the Redwood neighborhood, a stop-work order was issued in June 2020 when it was discovered that a contractor had begun building a second-story deck without a valid building permit. The applicant went to the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) to ask for retroactive approval, which the board was not inclined to give. In November, Sag Harbor Village Police charged Bohemia contractor Patrick G. Bentivegna with a felony, accusing him of submitting a forged permit, and the applicant withdrew the ZBA application the following month.

Now, 8 Dartmouth Road is on the agenda of the Sag Harbor Village Board of Historic Preservation and Architectural Review, known as the ARB. The applicant is seeking a certificate of appropriateness for the deck and an outdoor shower.

Brian DeSesa, a local attorney representing the applicant, presented the plans to the ARB on March 25, and he acknowledged the project’s troubled past.

The builder had presented a building permit and ARB approval to the homeowner, Mr. DeSesa said, adding, “The homeowner and applicant was unaware that both of those approvals that were presented to him were not, in fact, issued by the village.”

The work that was started remains in place and only partially completed.

“We’re now restarting the process and coming to the Architectural Review Board first,” Mr. DeSesa said.

The applicant wants permission to add a door on the second story of the home and a 4-foot-wide deck to walk out on that leads to an existing second-story deck. The plan also calls for steps down to the backyard and pool.

“There is framing up that was put up under the guise or premise that a permit had been issued, which, in fact, it hadn’t been issued,” Mr. DeSesa said. An outdoor shower was also built without a permit and is finished, he added.

“We’re looking for a restart on both of these matters,” he said.

A variance for the second-story deck will be required from the Zoning Board of Appeals, but the applicant is seeking ARB approval for the plan’s aesthetics first, Mr. DeSesa said.

“I was a little hesitant to give my support to this,” said ARB member Steven Williams, noting the arrest, “but it is really truly densely surrounded with trees, and I really don’t see how that would impose on a neighbor’s right to privacy by any stretch of the imagination.”

Scott Frances, the neighbor whose property shares a border with 8 Dartmouth Road, insisted that is not the case.

“The new structure absolutely looms over us,” Mr. Frances said. “It is not in a densely wooded area. It is not screened at all.”

Because the Dartmouth Road property slopes down 6 feet from the house to the property line, the deck is high up and in violation of pyramid law, he added.

“It is clear as day on top of us,” he said. “From their side, it looks more densely wooded, but from our side, it doesn’t, and that can be proved.”

The matter was tabled, and ARB members said they would visit 8 Dartmouth Road to see for themselves before rendering a decision. Mr. Frances offered the members an “open invitation” to come onto his property to see the partially finished deck from his point of view.

 

128 Jermain Street
The ARB’s historic preservation consultant, Zachary Studenroth, is not keen on plans to re-side the historic building at 128 Jermain Street with cedar shingles and found further faults in the proposal as well.

 

Mr. Studenroth said the building was historically a commercial space, as evidenced by a centered front door. It originally had shiplap siding, which still exists beneath asbestos shingles that had been applied on top, and should not be changed to cedar shingles, he said.

“The use of wood shingle sort of charms it up — tries to transform it into something it’s not,” he said.

The proposal calls for a charcoal gray roof and Alaskan cedar siding that will weather naturally.

Mr. DeSesa, representing the applicant, offered to remove the asbestos siding to observe the condition of the siding underneath.

“The decision about the type of siding is not contingent upon the condition of what is there,” Mr. Studenroth replied. “It’s about observation. Whether the condition of the original siding that’s beneath the later layers is deemed to be such that it cannot be preserved, the type that it is, is still the presenting fact. Not, ‘Oh, well then we can choose whatever siding we want.’”

ARB Vice Chair Bethany Deyermond pointed out that an earlier application by a previous owner for cedar shingle siding had been approved. That approval was never acted on but remains in place.

Board member Judith Long was concerned about plans for a side door. “Is it all right to simply punch a big hole in the side of a historic house and add big doors?” she asked.

Mr. Studenroth said allowing a new door or window from time to time can be done to accommodate a new use of a space, but here, a pair of doors are proposed “uncomfortably close” to a window. “A single door, for example, would work just as well to enable the applicant to get in and out of the house without making such a bold, sort of, statement,” he added.

He said that a chimney on the house had been demolished without approval. “There is still a patch in the roof to show where it was,” he noted.

The chimney was just slightly off the ridge of the roof. A new proposed chimney is all the way to one side of the roof.

“The way it’s presented, it’s kind of transforming this old store into a house,” he said.

Mr. Studenroth also suggested that plans to clad the foundation with brick are not practical. “The new foundation that’s been poured comes out to a full dimension of the basement,” he said. “Any application of material other than paint would bring it forward of the siding,” he said.

ARB Chairman Dean Gomolka noted that the ARB had approved fixing the foundation to resolve a dangerous situation.

The foundation was originally brick and sections had been removed without a permit. The ARB granted approval in January for the foundation to be rebuilt in line with the existing footprint to secure the house. Homeowner Lynn Chin told the board then that it would be concrete with a brick facade, to match the rest of the foundation.

Now, Mr. Studenroth is pointing out that the new foundation was not designed to accommodate the brick.

“A veneer of brick has a depth to it of more than a quarter of an inch, and the concrete has been poured in such a way that it does not allow for the application [of a veneer],” he said.

The brick is missing from the submitted plans, but adding brick to the plans won’t change anything without an adjustment to the existing foundation, he insisted, saying, “You can draw in brick, but it ain’t gonna work because there’s no place to put it.”

Board member Val Florio suggested a solution: Run a “water table” detail along the bottom of the shingles that matches the corner board. That way, the brick would not protrude. “That’s a pretty fairly common detail,” he said.

Mr. DeSesa was amenable to the suggestion.

The application was tabled.

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