Two Downtown Projects Hinge on Sewer Extensions

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In January, a newly formed Sag Harbor Village committee began discussing whether the village’s sewage treatment system should be expanded, with the goal of eventually making recommendations to the Village Board of Trustees. Meanwhile two major downtown development proposals hinge on extended sewer lines to proceed.

The Sag Harbor Planning Board on Tuesday heard from attorney Brian DeSesa, representing Uptown Pilates at 23 Bridge Street, and attorney Tiffany Scarlato, representing artists April Gornik and Eric Fischl, who are redeveloping the former Methodist church at 48 Madison Street. Both projects call for connections to the sewer system, and both attorneys are petitioning the Sag Harbor Village Board to allow them to connect to the sewer system.

Mr. Fischl and Ms. Gornik want to build an art hub called “The Church” with artists-in-residence who would teach classes and show their work. Their property is about 38 feet from the existing terminus of a sewer line.

“Our engineer has been dealing with the village’s engineer,” Ms. Scarlato told the planning board. “Now it’s a matter of how the village moves forward on that.”

During a planning board work session prior to the regular meeting, village attorney Denise Schoen said she had heard that there had been some “positive feedback on extending the sewer for this particular property” so far, but that there has been nothing official in terms of decisions.

In the case of Uptown Pilates, which is seeking to renovate and expand its existing buildings, Mr. DeSesa said Wednesday a sewer connection would side-step having to “erect four-foot concrete walls around the entire property and raise the grade up to the top of those four-foot walls so we can locate a compliant septic system” on site. He said the current septic system, as well as those of some neighboring buildings, are already dangerously close to groundwater. The area is also prone to flooding.

“It’s not even an extension, it’s a connection across the street,” said Mr. DeSesa, who also represents two more Bridge Street property owners who want to connect to the sewer system, too.

The village board previously rejected an application by Uptown Pilates to connect to the sewer system in 2018, Ms. Schoen said on Tuesday.

Board members suggested that Mr. DeSesa start a Zoning Board of Appeals application in addition to its sewer line petition to the village board. That’s because Uptown Pilates’s application will require a parking variance for as many as 27 spaces. Mr. DeSesa said that number might be reduced if the building inspector recognizes that the pilates studio can only hold a maximum of 10 people at a time.

Also on Tuesday, the board waived a full site plan review for Blocks, Trucks and Art, a new business that recently moved in on Washington Street, after environmental consultant Kathy Eiseman told the board the application was “minor in nature.” Co-owner Angela De Vincenzo, who has taught at private schools for two decades, is seeking special exception permission to add one-on-one tutoring and small-group instruction to the already-approved gallery use there. The board set a public hearing on the application for March 26 at 5:30 p.m.

Ms. Eiseman told the board, “They’re not changing the building. They’re not even changing the floor plan inside. There is no reason to require them to hire an architect and do a formal plan in this case, because they’re really just moving the furniture around to support their program.”

The planning board also began reviewing an application by the Dock House restaurant, represented by Mr. DeSesa, to legalize an existing outdoor, walk-in refrigerator. The planning board referred Mr. DeSesa to the village’s Zoning Board of Appeals, which will have to consider granting at least one variance for the refrigerator before the planning board can act.

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