After brick foundation walls on a home in a historic district were removed without a permit, the Sag Harbor Village Historic Preservation & Architectural Review Board voted Thursday, January 28, to permit the owner to resume work for the express purpose of securing the foundation, while telling the homeowner to halt all other changes to the house pending review and approval.
Prior to the vote, homeowner Lynn Chin told the board that the east and south foundation walls had been taken down, but would be rebuilt with concrete plus a brick facade that will “match the front and west of the house, exactly as used to be.” She also requested permission for an egress from the basement in the rear of the house, with a set of doors leading to a recessed courtyard.
“The walls will be rebuilt as they were,” Ms. Chin reiterated. “There will be no changes at all to the original footprint of the house. The walls will go back exactly where they were.”
Ms. Chin originally applied for a certificate of appropriateness to replace or modify the shingles, roof, windows, trim and door at 128 Jermain Avenue. She had also told the board at prior meetings that the foundation was unsafe and sagging. “We are putting cement in the foundation to strengthen it,” she had said, noting that only the interior would be affected.
The board’s historic preservation consultant, Zachary Studenroth, said during recent meetings that he was alarmed to see that work was being done on the foundation.
That work apparently involved more than just adding cement inside the basement — it involved removing about half of the foundation.
“There’s a problem, because I think originally the application as you stated, was only for shingles, roof, windows, trim and door,” board attorney Elizabeth Vail said at this past Thursday’s meeting, “and then what happened was exterior work was done without a permit.”
The foundation work exposed the house to the elements, Ms. Vail said. However, the new foundation plan put before the board asks for more than just putting the foundation back, she pointed out; it asks for a new courtyard and basement egress.
She said the proposed courtyard appears to be offset just 2 feet from the side yard property line, which may require approval from the Zoning Board of Appeals, and “should absolutely get a full plan review by a building inspector before it comes before this board.”
Ms. Vail recommended the board approve the foundation restoration in a very limited extent to secure the house.
“You need to submit a new application that gets reviewed by the building inspector,” she told Ms. Chin. “You just can’t keep adding things piecemeal every week that has not been reviewed by the building inspector for this board’s review.”
Ms. Vail deferred to Mr. Studenroth for his feedback on the foundation.
“The foundation part was obviously a total surprise to me because that was never part of this proposed project, and it was certainly a surprise to see that two of the foundation walls were removed,” Mr. Studenroth said. “That obviously compromises the integrity of the building so anything that could be approved this evening to preserve the integrity of the structure is a priority.”
Where the foundation was, the house is supported by Lally columns, he said.
Historic Preservation & Architectural Review Board Vice Chairperson Bethany Deyermond, agreeing with Ms. Vail, suggested that the board agree on the foundation while setting aside other parts of the application for a future meeting.
Ultimately, the board signed off on putting the east foundation wall back the way it was, while holding off on a decision about the proposed basement egress.
It was also revealed during the meeting that a previous owner had received permission in 2013 to replace the house’s asbestos siding with Alaskan cedar siding. Though the siding was never installed, the permission remains in place.
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