Skirmish Over Building Plans

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Members of the Sag Harbor Village Board of Historic Preservation and Architectural Review sparred on Thursday, April 9, with John McLaughlin, the owner of a one-story house at 43 Suffolk Street who wants to tear it down and replace it with a two-story house.

Mr. McLaughlin and his architect, Kirby Grimes, have appeared before the board twice in the past month to gauge its response to new designs for the property. Both times they have been shot down.

After the board said it did not care for plans for a two-story hipped roof house on the property, Mr. McLaughlin returned with plans for a house with a traditional gabled roof, but two flat-roofed extensions and a garage on one side. Again board members were not happy.

“Our job is to see that the house and those next to it play nicely together,” said the board’s chairman, Cee Scott Brown, who said it appeared the design was intended “to get the maximum square footage” out of the lot. He said he would prefer something that was “more organic,” perhaps placed more forward on the lot and extending back, away from the street instead of along it.

A frustrated Mr. McLaughlin said Mr. Grimes had extensive experience in historically accurate design, pointing out that he had once served as a consultant to Colonial Williamsburg in Virginia.

“My biggest concern is you all seem to have such personal preferences for what should be there that we could spend architectural funds and spin our wheels for months and months and months,” said Mr. McLaughlin. “It’s very confusing.”

With Mr. McLaughlin asking, “Am I to go out and whistle in the wind?” board member suggested Mr. McLaughlin should take a walk around the neighborhood and be “be inspired by the village you live in.”

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