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Aug 5, 2009 1:49 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Sag Harbor condo project in doubt after code changes; lawsuit expected

Aug 5, 2009 1:49 PM

The owners of the property at One Ferry Road in Sag Harbor were told by Sag Harbor’s code inspector last week that the 18-unit condominium complex they are proposing along the village’s waterfront has been rendered unbuildable thanks to revisions made to the village’s zoning code this spring.

With the new code in place and an August 10 meeting planned to review the detailed analysis of the impacts the condo development might have on the surrounding area, the Planning Board asked inspector Tim Platt to determine whether the application could proceed. They knew the answer he would give them.

“We asked for an interpretation of the application under the new code, and he told us, as we were well aware, that it would now fall outside the guidelines, particularly the density issue,” Planning Board Chairman Neil Slevin said. “So we asked [project manager Mark D’Andrea], in light of the fact that they have submitted a plan that calls for more apartments than the code allows, what they proposed.”

According to village development consultant Richard Warren, the new code would only allow a much smaller condo development, limited to only seven or eight total units, rather than the 18 units proposed.

The apartment complex, as proposed, would also include a swimming pool, walkways, parking for 36 vehicles and dockage to accommodate 18 boats on the 1.5-acre property. All the existing structures would be demolished.

The property is zoned for commercial use, but residential development would be allowed with a special exception use permit by the Planning Board, Mr. Warren said. East End Ventures is nearing completion on a 20-unit condominium complex on West Water Street.

As of Tuesday, the Planning Board had not been notified by East End Ventures of whether they would withdraw the current application.

Mr. Slevin acknowledged that regardless of the development group’s next step, a lawsuit over the project’s long review by the Planning Board is likely to come in the near future. He said many people familiar with the project expect any eventual lawsuit to claim that the Planning Board intentionally delayed its review process for the project to give the Village Board time to complete and enact the new code revisions—a charge he said is false. Representatives of East End Ventures have accused the village of specifically tailoring the new code to stop their plans at the waterfront property, which now hosts a private parking lot and small office building.

Nearly all of the candidates campaigning for village government this summer said they would like to see the property, which boasts access to a small sandy beach, preserved as a public park.

The application for the condominiums was submitted nearly two years ago, before the village unveiled its drafts of the new code amendments, which were enacted in June. But Mr. Warren and village officials have said that they were discussing the code changes for years prior to the legislation being drafted. Only projects that had already received final approval from the Planning Board when the new code was adopted were grandfathered under the old rules.

East End Ventures attorney Dennis Downes could not be reached for comment.

Like the Ferry Road project, another condominium proposal, the 65-unit development planned for the crumbling Bulova Watchcase Factory, also suffered from the drawn out review process. Despite widespread support for the proposal and an expedited review process drafted by village consultants, the mammoth project still took some two years to receive its final approval from the Planning Board, during which time the developers lost their financing in the wake of the economic crash. The Bulova project received approval before the code revisions were enacted, so it may proceed if its planners find a way to fund it.

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Let's see, 8 plus 18 equals 26 divided by 2 equals 13, the number of units that East End Venture will eventually be allowed to build when a reasonable judge gets hold of this.

Sag Harbor gives up 5 units from the new rules as a compromise and East End Ventures gives up 5 units from the old rules as a compromise. That will save the village and the developer a whole lot of legal bills and aggravation with no promise that either side will win anything!

Save the tax money. Make ...more
By Scratch (26), Sag Harbor on Aug 6, 09 5:13 PM
Sag Harbor has too many condo developments right now for a town of its size and density, so this project should not go forward.
The town needs to get a handle on the design and architecture side of any new building or rennovation activity so that there are no more monstrosities like West Water Street, which only gets worse looking as it nears completion.
By Sag (54), Sag harbor on Aug 7, 09 9:36 AM