Preserving Community - 27 East


Southampton Press / Opinion / Letters / 1821101

Preserving Community

Homeowners in Azurest, Sag Harbor Hills and Ninevah Beach, Sag Harbor’s historically African American beachfront communities, issued a resounding vote of support last week for a proposal to form a zoning overlay district encompassing the three communities. By a vote of 204-10, 95 percent of respondents from the three communities endorsed the proposal, which was developed by the Tri-Community Working Group to preserve both the character of the community and the property rights of homeowners. The 214 homeowners who responded to the survey, represented approximately two-thirds of all of the homeowners in the three communities.

The Tri-Community Working Group is comprised of the elected presidents of the three communities homeowners’ associations and 14 additional homeowners.

The overlay district proposal emanated from the sense that Azurest, Ninevah Beach and Sag Harbor Hills are under assault. Like the rest of Sag Harbor (and much of the Hamptons), the three communities have become increasingly desirable.

The skyrocketing property values and enhanced home equity are transformative for many — especially considering the history of discrimination, predatory lending and red-lining that traditionally suppress black wealth. But while this is a welcome development for most, the changes have been unsettling to some.

Azurest, Sag Harbor Hills and Ninevah Beach are among the few remaining African American beachfront communities in the United States. The founders of the three neighborhoods imbued them with a sense of community, belonging and serenity that has persisted for more than 70 years. The recent changes have led some to fear that development will usher in demographic upheaval, and that it will erase the community we cherish.

Since mid-March 2021, the Tri-Community Working Group met weekly to develop a proposal that addresses the unfettered development while protecting homeowner property rights. The group consulted with officials from the New York State Historic Preservation office, members of the Sag Harbor Village architectural review board and zoning boards, and village trustees. We believe that the overlay district proposal, which was formally submitted to the Village of Sag Harbor earlier today, meets our goals.

The proposal:

• Allows homeowners to make exterior home improvements per the existing Village Code.

• Facilitates community representation on village boards.

• Calls for regularized and enhanced code enforcement to address issues such as derelict homes.

• Assures ample neighbor notification regarding proposed construction and renovation.

• Maintains the wooded nature of the communities, among other provisions.

The proposal will not erode the wealth of legacy homeowners or impose new arbitrary and oppressive architectural restrictions. Instead, the proposal relies on representation, enforcement and stabilization to ensure a vibrant and desirable community for generations to come.

We look forward to the consideration and approval of the proposal by Sag Harbor Village trustees.

Lisa Stenson Desamours



Errol Taylor



Steve Williams



Other members of the Tri-Community Working Group who signed the letter: Linda Anderson, Sewit Bocresion, Damon Brown, Camille Clark, Laurie Gibbs Harris, Jeff Miszner, Judith Mitchell, Robert North, Karen Price, Fred Richards III, Stephen Roache, Tonya Thomas, Carey White and Olivia White — Ed.