Variances Sought for Two Historic Houses on Main Street

The house at 156 Main Street in Sag Harbor. Peter Boody photo

The Sag Harbor Zoning Board of Appeals opened a hearing on the application by NYHO LLC for sky plane and other variances to renovate and build a second-story addition in the rear of the decrepit, early 19th-century house at 156 Main Street, just south of the business district.

Chairman Tim McGuire called it a “wonderful project” and added, “Everybody’s happy this is going to get renovated before it falls down.”

It was one of two applications for work on historic Main Street properties at the board’s meeting on September 17. The other called for variances to allow for the construction of a shed and pool in the confined yard of the house at 220 Main Street, where the dining room section dates back to the 1600s, according to co-owner Kate Ermilio. The property is a corner parcel, and so technically has two front yards.

Board members informally agreed the proposed shed would be too large for its proposed location in what the applicant, Robert P. Ermilio, called “dead space” at the property line. The board held over the application for revised plans without a pool and a relocated shed.
“There are some properties just not big enough to fit in everything” that a property owner might want, Mr. McGuire said.

Architect Anthony Vermandois of Sag Harbor presented the application for 156 Main Street, where the Ermilios plan to remove an attached “lean-to” on the south side of the house that infringes on the neighboring property, and tear down a cottage in the back to build a pool house in a conforming location.

The plan also calls for a pool between the house and pool house and a two-story addition in the rear of the main house that will protrude a balance 2,775 cubic yards into the sky plane set by the village’s pyramid law limiting building heights. That number depends on a “credit” of 1,400 cubic yards for the removal of a shed that violates the sky plane by that value — something the propriety of which board members expressed some skepticism.

The house will be connected to the municipal sewer system, so will not require the installation of a private septic system, Mr. Vermandois said. The property currently has certificates of occupancy for four dwelling units; the renovation plan calls for a reduction to two. He said he may be able to tweak the design to make the small setback variance required for the pool to “go away.”

Penni Ludwig, the neighbor to the south at 162 Main Street, expressed concerns about the project, including the height of the groundwater table in the rear of the property, which she noted is close to a marshy area to the west, as well as the height of the rear addition. She also called on the board to “preserve how buildings are placed” in the neighborhood, noting “they’ve been like that forever,” and adding, “When I look out, I can see the town … We need some breathing room there.”

Mr. Vermandois said he would return before the board with information concerning soil conditions and a confirmation from the building inspector on the correct value of the plan’s requirement for a sky plane variance. He said he would reduce the “setback issue” for the main house “or make it go away.”