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Sep 18, 2018 2:43 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Sag Harbor 'Legs' Sculpture Taken Down For Cleaning While Future Remains Uncertain

The Larry Rivers
Sep 20, 2018 9:55 AM

“Legs,” the sculpture in Sag Harbor by artist Larry Rivers, was taken down recently for a cleaning, but it may never see the light of day again.

Attorney Stephen Grossman pleaded guilty in Sag Harbor Village Justice Court on August 23 on behalf of the owners of the sculpture, Janet Lehr and Ruth Vered, to multiple violations of the village zoning code for keeping the statue standing next to their Madison Street residence. The owners took down the sculpture to be cleaned after it was vandalized with a blotch of red paint in the summer of 2017.

Village Building Inspector Thomas Preiato issued the owners six citations in 2017, charging that the sculpture was an “accessory structure,” according to village code, and that it exceeded the village’s height limit of 15 feet, and was an accessory structure in a front yard, which is not permitted. He also said it violated the village’s “sky plane” regulations, which limit the height of structures; lacked a building permit or certificate of compliance; and was situated only 1 foot from the property line, where a 35-foot setback is required.

Mr. Grossman said his clients, under the name Lehr/Vered Inc., pleaded guilty to only one count of violating the village code—not meeting the setback—while the other violations were dismissed. Mr. Grossman said that the pair paid a $200 fine.

Mr. Preiato confirmed on Monday that the sculpture was subsequently taken down. Mr. Grossman said he did not know where the sculpture is now, and Ms. Lehr declined to comment.

Mr. Grossman also said he didn’t know what the next steps would be to try to have the sculpture put back up legally, but he suggested that the village could adopt a new law to recognize public art pieces, or issue licenses to allow art pieces to be displayed in the village.

“There was no reason to keep persecuting the ‘Legs’—it’s a mystery to me,” Mr. Grossman said.

“If they are to come back, legally, that is, they will need to have [Board of Historic Preservation and Architectural Review] approval and will need to meet all other zoning requirements that an accessory structure would need to meet,” Mr. Preiato said in an email.

Dr. Robby Stein, a former Village Board member and recently appointed chairman of the Village Zoning Board of Appeals, said he understood both sides of the argument labeling “Legs” both an accessory structure and an artwork.

“I don’t feel that we should be legislating art,” Dr. Stein said. “I’m very connected to many artists, and I used to write about art, so I understand ‘Legs’ being a piece of art. It simply has to do with its placement.”

The 16-foot-tall pop art fiberglass sculpture was first designed by Mr. Rivers in 1969 and placed at its former location in 2008. Mr. Rivers died in 2002.

Village officials fought to have the sculpture removed, claiming it violated village code. The ZBA denied the owners three variances in 2012 that would’ve allowed the sculpture to stay up due to it being deemed an accessory structure. The State Supreme Court also deemed the sculpture as an accessory structure in 2015, requiring it to conform to village zoning regulations.

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