SagTown Settles Code Violations in Village Justice Court

Inside SagTown Coffee in Sag Harbor. Christine Sampson photo

The owner of SagTown Coffee, one of the village’s most popular java joints, has settled dozens of tickets in Sag Harbor Village Justice Court that were issued by the building inspector starting in September of 2017.

Justice court records show on April 30, out of 51 total charges, Shane Dyckman pleaded guilty to 48 — which were either amended down to lesser charges or settled as conditional discharges. Three were dismissed.

Of the 48 original or amended charges, which were for either operating without site plan approval, operating in violation of site plan approval or operating in violation of a certificate of occupancy, Mr. Dyckman will pay fines for nine of them, totaling $7,950. The rest were resolved without fines. He has 90 days to pay the fines.

The tickets each carried a fine of up to $1,000, and could theoretically have been issued every day the building inspector, Thomas Preiato, alleged the coffee shop was not in compliance with zoning regulations. Mr. Preiato wrote all but one of Mr. Dyckman’s tickets; code enforcement officer Keith Payne wrote the final one, finding the coffee shop lacked a sign permit.

“It’s fully compliant now,” attorney Brian DeSesa, who represented Mr. Dyckman, said Friday. “He was happy to put it behind him and have everything be fully compliant in the space.”

The initial conflict stemmed from SagTown’s expansion into the adjacent, street-front retail space following the December 2016 fire that ravaged the coffee shop, the Sag Harbor Cinema and a handful of other local businesses and apartments.

When Mr. Dyckman reopened the café during the summer of 2017, a wall that separated the two stores had been removed without site plan approval from the Sag Harbor Planning Board. A compromise initially allowed the coffee shop to operate both spaces, with the stipulation that the street-front space — formerly home to Collette Luxury Consignment — be limited to a retail operation. Customers with coffee were soon seated in the space, though Mr. Dyckman eventually swapped chairs for shelves and displays of coffee beans, clothing and accessories.

Mr. Preiato had also alleged that an unauthorized change of use had occurred at SagTown — from “coffee shop” to a more intensive restaurant use — and in September of 2018, the Sag Harbor Zoning Board of Appeals denied Mr. Dyckman’s appeal of Mr. Preiato’s ruling.

Mr. DeSesa argued at the time that while “coffee shop” is a permitted use downtown, and despite the numerous places around the village where one can buy a cup of joe, no formal definition for “coffee shop” exists within the village zoning code. That part of the village code remains unchanged.