Wait Continues for Harbor Market

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Neighbors have logged complaints about the HVAC system on top of the new Harbor Market & Kitchen. Photo by Stephen J. Kotz. 

By Stephen J. Kotz

Wrangling over the Harbor Market & Kitchen, whose owners, Paul and Susana Del Favero, have hoped to open in the former Espresso market this spring, continued before the Sag Harbor Village Board this week with little hope for a quick solution.

The ZBA devoted much of a Monday morning work session to the application as well as a major portion of a Tuesday meeting that stretched on for more than four hours before the board called it a night.

The property, at the corner of Division and Henry streets, is owned by 184 Division Street Realty LLC and Abbey Warsh, who have asked the ZBA to rule on whether plans for the market represent the expansion of a commercial use in a residential zone, which would require a use variance. A use variance requires an applicant to meet a higher standard than is typically required for a dimensional variance.

Eric Bregman, the market’s attorney, has argued that plans to move equipment, including an oven and sink, from the first floor to the basement, do not constitute an expansion and should be allowed without a variance.

Meanwhile, Jeffrey Bragman, the attorney representing a group of neighbors, has taken the opposite side of the argument and tried to convince the ZBA that it also has to take into account the movement of a large amount of mechanical equipment to the roof, even though that is not specifically included in the variance application.

The rooftop equipment has set off a storm of opposition from neighbors who say it is ugly and will disturb their peace and quiet, once all the heating and air conditioning units and various vents and exhaust fans start to work.

Although the village’s Board of Historic Preservation and Architectural Review signed off on the plans, the Del Faveros and their architect, Douglas Moyer, in a bid to mend fences with the neighbors, returned to the ARB last month, seeking permission to screen the equipment. But ARB chairman Cee Scott Brown chastised them for failing to inform the board of the extent of their plans. As a result, the ARB has required they bring in a sound engineer to weigh in on how the equipment’s noise can be reduced by that screening.

At Monday’s work session, ZBA member Scott Baker, an architect himself, raised the issue of whether the rooftop equipment, screened or not, will require a separate variance from the village’s pyramid law, which regulates the height of a building based on its distance from the property line.

For now, though, the ZBA is focusing on the single variance before it, with village attorney Denise Schoen saying the board should rely on case law to guide its interpretation.

A separate variance request to extend a wall to provide an additional 28 square feet of space in the basement to expand a basement office was withdrawn this week after Ms. Schoen said, however small, any expansion of the size of the building would require another use variance.

On Tuesday night, Mr. Bregman argued once again that “modernizing or putting in new equipment is not extending the use,” a viewpoint seemingly shared by Ms. Schoen, who said a similar argument was brought up when the ZBA reviewed the Harbor Heights gas station application.

Mr. Bragman, though, was quick to counter, saying basement storage area is not included in a business’s gross floor area, but if it is converted for food preparation, it must be included in those calculations.

He gave the board an affidavit from the former owner of Espresso, who said the basement had been used for storage only from the time they purchased the building in 2008 until they sold it in 2014, which Mr. Bragman said would show that any former use for food preparation had been long abandoned.

Although the ZBA was technically only considering the question of whether the basement could be used for food preparation, Mr. Bragman said it could lose sight of the bigger picture.

He said mechanical equipment had been moved from the basement to the roof, so the basement could be used for a bakery and other business uses.

“The equipment on the roof is related to what they are doing in the building,” he said. “In order for you to examine what is involved in the extension of the use, you need to which equipment is needed and what on that roof.”

Comments

13 COMMENTS

  1. Looks like Cee didn’t do a comprehensive job in his duties and is now attempting to cover his backside:

    ‘Cee Scott Brown chastised them for failing to inform the board of the extent of their plans’

    As a realtor in the ARB, he seems too conflicted for this role.

  2. As someone that lives close by … this is awful. The old building was falling apart. It looks great now. The mechanicals are not an eye sore. If they ever open, will make sure to give them tons of my business. Would be great to have a neighborhood market to walk to in nice weather. A realtor on board is a conflict.

  3. I miss the Paradise , Hildies Tea Shop, the little Mexican restaurant that was in the spot where Muse is now, the Metaphysical Book Store oh and the latest the Ideal.
    Oh and as I said before I will really miss seeing Vivian Walsh play at marine park at the end of every summer.

  4. As a close neighbor to the Harbor Market I can’t help thinking that luddites, lawyers and long winters are the fundamental generators of this drama. The Harbor Market is a beautiful structure that is sorely needed in our community. The old structure was something of an eyesore.
    Up the block, our elementary school is allowed to put up a remarkably ugly chainlink fence along Elizabeth Street. Six industrial lights on the facade of the building wipe out the night sky completely, reminding one of a concentration camp or mall parking lot. No one breathes a peep. Similar lighting pops up on various banks in town. Nary a word. Has our little whaling village become a high crime destination? A place of nocturnal nefariousness? Has the “Dark Sky Initiative” been replaced with a “Blazing Light Decree”? More likely, one brilliant light salesman has made a killing.
    My point is, there are additions to our town which are worthless and ugly and there are others, such as the Harbor Market, which are useful and pleasing.
    In conclusion, might I suggest that the owners of the Harbor Market by asked to simply extend a false cornice on the top of the building and insulate it with sound board or some other noise abatement material? It is not a perfect solution, but ours is not a perfect world.

  5. I have to repeat this…seems really hard to get this point through. The ARB was presented with a plan for the roof that received a permit, but that in no way represents what is on the roof now. Why would anyone on that Board ask further questions once a plan had been submitted??? That doesn’t make any sense at all. The building is a huge improvement over Espresso’s – no question – except for the roof which absolutely is an eyesore! I can’t see any argument on that point. The ARB has requested plans for sound-proof screening and we will see what happens.

  6. Kenny

    Go look at the plan presented to the ARB. it shows the full roof structure. Maybe the ARB needs more qualified people to review plans and know what they are looking at.

    I am sure Cee will get lucky and sell all the houses of the disenfranchised owners near the market…

  7. I have to repeat this… @ Kelly Mann, YOU ARE A BULLY. You attended nothing then after something is installed you jump around screaming like a 2 year old, you should be treated like one, go sit in a time out for a while. You are obviously out numbered and the bottom line is the market was approved, they did everything right! Grow up or better yet go back to Africa!

  8. It should be noted that the plan presented to the ARB last year showed the roof from an “eagle’s eye” perspective. The various pieces equipment appeared as smaller rectangles within the larger rectangle representing the roof top itself. And not all of the equipment was represented. It is perhaps not unexpected that a small village board staffed by volunteers might miss this. Had the application presented by the owners, (or the ARB requested), an elevation showing the roof line, the equipment would have been apparent and no doubt, questioned.
    Fault the owners and their architect perhaps more than the ARB, in my opinion.
    Now it is before the ZBA with an appeal based on a claim of illegal expansion of use in the basement area but the real issue remains the equipment on the roof.
    The owners should come up with a solution for the roof that is both visually pleasing, (not just a “fence” !) and contains a sound reducing element.
    Then the market can open and most of us will be happy.

  9. I understand Walt’s point but I believe it’s incumbent on the ARB to ask for more information if they don’t have enough info to make a decision they can stand by. When do you stop trying to imagine what the ARB might need? Should Mr. Moyer have submitted a 3D computer model of the project to ensure that the ARB understood the drawings?

    If people are unhappy with this they need to blame the approval process not the owners and architect who submitted everything asked for.

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