West Water Street Postponed, Bridge Street on the Agenda

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A property at 23 Bridge Street with multiple buildings may have changes on the horizon. Christine Sampson photo

The Sag Harbor Planning Board on Tuesday postponed a decision on the lot line modification along with a highly anticipated discussion of the site plan of developer Jay Bialsky’s proposed condominiums at 2 West Water Street, and later took a preliminary look at an application by a property owner planning to dramatically expand at 23 Bridge Street.

Some unfinished “housekeeping items” pertaining to the lot line modification — which would combine three tax lots Mr. Bialsky owns at 1, 3 and 5 Ferry Road into a single lot slated to be sold to the town for preservation and shift the boundary line to enlarge the 2 West Water Street parcel — prevented the Planning Board from being able to approve it on Tuesday. The lot line modification is the final condition before Southampton Town and Mr. Bialsky can close on the 1.25-acre Community Preservation Fund purchase, through which the John Steinbeck Waterfront Park is to be created.

Attorney Brian DeSesa, representing Mr. Bialsky, requested the site plan public hearing be continued to the board’s November 27 meeting, which the board agreed to do.

“Do we have any pictures of this thing yet? I still want to know what it’s going to look like,” Planning Board member Nathan Brown said.

Mr. DeSesa said “it’s being worked on.”

“We’ll review everything that’s proposed on the site at once, and not have it piecemeal,” he told the board.

The Planning Board began discussing 23 Bridge Street with its attorney Denise Schoen, environmental consultant Kathy Eiseman and Mr. DeSesa, the property owner’s representative. The .28-acre property currently has three buildings and two small sheds. The owner, 23 Bridge Benadamer LTD., wants to legalize one building’s use as a pilates studio. Its certificate of occupancy permits it to be used only as a cottage and antique shop, and the owner is before the Sag Harbor Village Justice Court facing at least six violations of that CO.

Mr. DeSesa said there are some “large requests” involved in the change of use, including obtaining a parking variance of 44 spaces, connecting two of the buildings and raising all three main buildings approximately four feet to accommodate a new septic system. There is also a proposal to replace the existing one-and-a-half story residence with a two-story commercial building.

At the heart of the issue is the building’s septic system, which experts say is sitting too close to the groundwater line. Upon the recommendation of Ms. Schoen and Ms. Eiseman, the board and Mr. DeSesa agreed to approach the project via a full formal analysis under the New York State Environmental Quality Review Act. Doing so would address the property’s water quality issues, which would have an impact on the immediate neighborhood, they said. It might even again make sense to raise the topic of connecting to the downtown sewer district with the Village Board of Trustees, Ms. Schoen said.

“The village would benefit from realistically looking at this problematic area,” board chairman Neil Slevin said. “We have to be able to offer guidance to any potential applicant or developer about what is permitted or doable. I think that this is a way forward.”

The Planning Board also scheduled two public hearings on Tuesday.

One will be held on November 27 for Hank Katz’s application at 96 Main Street — one of the buildings heavily damaged in the December 16, 2016, Main Street fire — to change a second-floor apartment to an office. Attorney Tiffany Scarlato, representing Mr. Katz, said the floor plan is nearly the same, and the change of use could easily be reversed if the need ever arose.

“I’d be happy to come with a draft approval next month because I know there’s a hardship,” Ms. Schoen told the board. “They’re trying to get the building finished and occupied.”

The Planning Board agreed in a straw poll to have Ms. Schoen draft a decision that can be approved that night after the hearing, if they so choose.

Another hearing will be held November 27 on the restaurant Dopo la Spiaggia’s application to add about 300 square feet of kitchen space and renovate its bathrooms.

A public hearing was held Tuesday on a matter that has lingered for years before the Sag Harbor Planning Board: a lot line modification proposed by William Richmond Watson, Lynn St. John and Whitney St. John Fairchild. The plan would condense 241 Main Street, 237 Main Street and 8 Palmer Terrace into two lots, with the 8 Palmer Terrace lot to be divided among the two Main Street properties and ceasing to exist.

No one from the public spoke at the hearing on Tuesday. It ended with a favorable straw poll by the Planning Board directing Ms. Schoen to draft a resolution for the board’s November 27 meeting that the board could use to approve the lot line modification.

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