Vigorous Review Needed - 27 East


Vigorous Review Needed

In two recent editorials [“Too Many Questions,” September 14; “It Takes a Village,” August 17] and in two related news articles, The Express has thoughtfully drawn together a discussion of the first of a number of related or interconnected potential development properties that will challenge Sag Harbor to its core.

The first property, already the subject of a formal building application, is the latest Adam Potter proposal for a multi-use development on five parcels he controls on Bridge and Rose streets. The other prospective proposals might well come singly or in tandem from 2 Main Street (the QPasa Building) and/or the former 7-Eleven building right nearby.

Although no application was ever made, the 7-Eleven was earlier identified as the site of a new home for Bay Street Theater, and 2 Main is the subject of a languishing proposal for the Community Preservation Fund. Mr. Potter directly or indirectly controls or manages both of these red brick buildings.

What has the village done to prepare for the very large, invasive development proposals that may come, which alone or together will transform our historic waterfront?

A year ago, the Village Board unanimously passed a bill empowering it to review developments greater than 3,500 square feet in the waterfront overlay district. The legislation would not usurp the power of the existing boards. Rather, the trustees would review the work of the various boards and committees with regulatory jurisdiction.

The board was driven by concern about the three very large townhouses approved for placement along the waterfront. Significant mistakes were made by the Building Department and the various boards, but the Village Board had no authority to review the record and send the application back down for correction of the legal and regulatory mistakes.

What has the new Village Board done to defend the community against large, invasive development of the waterfront? Within days of the public announcement of Mr. Potter’s latest, with almost no meaningful public review or debate, the board voted unanimously to rescind the legislation, and removed itself from any meaningful role in protecting against giant projects. Incredibly, the Village Board chose to have no say over this Potter application or any other going forward. Unfortunately, The Express quickly supported this unfortunate action.

Trustee Aidan Corish and I rarely agree on anything. But I fully agree with his comment to The Express last week: “If a law like this had been in place, something like the Bialsky towers would not be in place.” Why, then, kill this bill? The rationale from Aidan and the mayor and board is vague and unconvincing. The Express’s endorsement is similarly unpersuasive.

This is no time for village leadership to take political cover by taking the elected government out of the story and out of the picture.

Jim Larocca

Sag Harbor

Larocca is former mayor of the Village of Sag Harbor — Ed.