Trustees’ Meeting Minutes – December 11, 2021

Village of Dering Harbor
Trustees’ Meeting
December 11, 2021, 9:00 AM

  • The meeting was called to order at 9:01am.
  • Attendance- Patrick Parcells (mayor), Karen Kelsey, Ari Benacerraf, Brad Goldfarb, Brandon Rose, Wayne Bruyn (village attorney), Vicki Shields (village clerk), Donna Ritzzmann (Timothy Hogue’s attorney), Sam Ashner, Jim Goldman, Eric and Stepahnie Deutsch
  • A motion to approve the minutes from the November 13th meeting was moved by Brad and seconded by Ari. 3 votes in favor, 2 abstentions ( Karen and Brandon). Motion passed.
  • Treasurer Report – Outstanding Bills Abstract- Ari asked Brad if Ocean electric is done with their work. Brad said he isn’t sure and needs to check with them.
    • A motion for a resolution approving payments motion to approval moved by Ari, second by Brad
  • Litigation/Legal Update- nothing new to report. Patrick and Wayne met with the Town of Shelter Island about how the village collects and compensates the town for the Fire District. Thi is simply housekeeping. Wayne is going to work with the Town attorney on this and will update the village soon about it.
  • Old Business
    • Demolition Law- There was a lengthy discussion on this topic. Patrick asked if anyone had any comments or questions. Brad commented that it’s his understanding that the current law doesn’t fully protect the village from someone coming in and demolishing a house. The idea behind the moratorium was to give the board time to deliberate, take some time to get the law right, taking into consideration what’s fair and what isn’t overly restrictive. He thinks this is a conversation that needs to be had amongst the community to protect the historical architecture of the village. Ari added that the moratorium allows for a studied approach, with outside input on the topic. Making sure the standards are sufficiently clear is precisely the purpose of this exercise.

Brandon feels there are enough mechanisms in the code (i.e. ARB review) to protect the village. He’s not against the moratorium but thinks adding only a few additional lines to the existing code are needed to make it crystal clear.

Karen asked Wayne if the current code protects from someone completely demolishing a home. She agrees that considering this law will take some time and wondered if there is a way for a moratorium to exempt minor alterations (i.e. replacement of a window).

Wayne explained what is currently in the code regarding demolition permits and the process that currently exists. Wayne said there is no direct language regarding the ARB in terms of standards for demolitions. Someone could argue that it’s not a clear, ascertainable standard and could be challenged in court. They are somewhat broad standards and one could argue that they aren’t even standards. The basis for any historic preservation law is an analysis of what currently exists. Wayne recommends (as he has in the past) that the board hire a consultant with the expertise to help them establish an inventory, etc. He also suggested getting broader community input.

Karen asked if someone were to purchase a house in the village and wanted to demolish it, other than giving notice to the Board of Trustees and neighbors, what else would they need to do? Wayne said they would go to the ARB for permission, who would then apply their standards and a discussion would take place.

Ari further commented that this is an opportunity to seek a third party to assist the village in reviewing this issue and discussing options. Wayne explained that historic preservation is a controversial issue legally and what is currently written in the village code does not model what other municipalities have done to assure historic preservation. To Ari, that encapsulates the need for a study by an expert. Brandon is wary of adding historic preservation to this discussion and thinks it adds a layer that could make this process more complicated than it needs to be. Ari suggested using the word “architectural” in place of “historic.”

Patrick commented that he struggles with the idea of moratoriums in general. For him, there are two questions on the table: How does the village manage demolition applications with the goal of maintaining the character of the village?  The historic piece is a bigger question that probably precedes the demolition question and needs to be answered. The draft law strikes him as a backdoor way of getting to the point of adopting a set of historic standards. He noted that the ARB is not like a Historic Preservation Board and to establish one would be a legislative matter. He wonders if the village board should go to the community and ask them if they want to go down this path.

Brandon added that he doesn’t think the age of a home should determine whether or not it qualifies as “historic.” Any new home has gone through the ARB review process and they are now a part of the fabric of the community.

Wayne reminded the Board that the village has an architectural review, which everyone needs to go through, regardless of the age of the structure. The purpose of the ARB is to “preserve and enhance the character, history, historical interest, beauty, general welfare, and property values of the village.” That said, from the perspective of an applicant to the ARB, what does that mean? What would be the basis for denying someone’s request for a complete demolition of an existing home. The guidance the Board is seeking needs to come from the community and an expert 3rd party that can help guide them in the process. Brad asked if hiring a consultant is the best path forward. Wayne said he thinks so. Wayne pointed out that the village is relatively small and this process has already begun with the volunteer effort that was put into the drafting of the Design Principles. Patrick suggested they have someone come in to give a presentation on what this process could look like. Brad volunteered to head up this effort and Wayne said he would help him.

Public comments:

Stephanie Deustch had several comments regarding what constitutes an historic district. A lot of the initial work has already been done with the steps the ARB took in consulting with an historical architect in developing the Design Principles. She also urged the Trustees to go beyond just buildings, but also the historic significance of other structures in the village (i.e. some brick walls around the village, Tim Hogue’s garage). She also had points regarding research that has been done about historic area designations and the effect on property values. She has spoken to realtors and they all said Design Guidelines and standards are helpful and absolutely help property values. She thinks it could be problematic to leave this up to the ARB for approval or denial the way that the code is written now. She wonders if the ARB needs training or if the code needs further clarification. She thinks more standards would be helpful. And she reminded the board that an Historic District is different from being a village with “historic significance.”

James Goldman said he thinks the Demolition Law is major and affects every property in the village. He thinks it would be received negatively and thinks it should be discussed at a meeting where every resident has the opportunity to attend. He also does not agree with the moratorium idea.

George Birman asked if people are required to get a demolition permit. The answer is yes and applicants need to go in front of the ARB for approval. George suggested that there should be plans in place for what is planned post-demolition. Karen asked if that is required by the code. Wayne said no. Karen asked if the Board agrees that they or the ARB should not allow demolition of a structure without first having an alternative or re-development plan. All members said they would agree with that statement.

Sam Ashner commented that he thinks this is a very helpful discussion and commented that he believes that Sag Harbor had held a moratorium related to this same issue.

To summarize, Patrick said it seemed that the board was in agreement that demolition could be allowed by the ARB with some clarification and a redevelopment plan should be required and included in the permit process. The question of whether the village should become an Historic District is a separate topic, one that should be explored. But the Trustees need to come to a conclusion about demolition permits in the short-term.

  • New Business
    • Announcements- Patrick spoke with Corazzini about doing more paving in the village. The village has a proposal from them (paving Locust Point Road to Yoco Road and adding some curbing where they put in the new wells on Manhanset Road). A motion to pass the following resolution authorizing the repaving listed in the Corazzini proposal was moved by Ari and seconded by Brad. All Board members voted in favor.

RESOLVED, that the Board of Trustees of the Village of Dering Harbor, hereby accepts the proposal of Corazzini Asphalt Inc., dated December 8,2021, to repave portions of Manhasset and Locust Point Road to Yoco Road in the amount of $33,000.00 for repaving and up to an additional $2,200.00 for tip up curbs as necessary.

  • A resolution to allow Vicki to choose a vanity for bathroom, not to exceed $2,000, was moved by Brad and seconded by Karen. All Board members voted in favor.
  • Proposed Code Change – 230-67. Patrick and Wayne explained the need for clarification in the code related to the number of days the ARB has to take action on an application once it has been referred to them by the building inspector. Currently, the statute provides a default approval if the ARB has not taken an action within 60 days of the referral, unless the applicant agrees to an extension. The request is to make the requirement more consistent with other default requirements you find under state law, which is 62 days in most instances. It does not need to be 62 days in the village, but the suggestion is to clarify the dates related to the initial date of referral, the date of the public hearing, and when the public hearing is closed. Patrick asked Wayne to clarify the process once an application is submitted to the building inspector. Wayne explained the process and why it needs clarification. In his opinion, the default period should be once the required Public Hearing has taken place and has closed, the ARB has a certain amount of time to make a decision. Patrick suggested that Wayne work with the chairperson of the ARB to know exactly what they are looking to clarify and what period of time they deem sufficient. Stephanie commented that the state guidelines are a good starting point but that Susannah had suggested a bit longer time period to allow the ARB more flexibility given that the residents are not full-time here in the village.
  • Water Update- Patrick commented that he is very pleased with the quality of village water right now. The chloride levels are inside of 20. The old building on Yoco Road (with the hazardous materials sign on it) is being removed soon and well #2 is now connected into the old highway barn, which is now the water treatment center and is complete and fully functioning. Also, he announced that he and Wayne met with the Town of Shelter Island, who is currently negotiating an agreement with SCWA for the West Neck Water District. Wayne noted that there is no connection between the village water district and the West Neck District. The village simply met with the town to share with them the process they went through in negotiating the village contract.
  • A motion to reopen the Public Hearing on Permitted Uses, Driveways and Parking was made by Brad and seconded by Karen. All Board members vote in favor. <<1:28>>
    • Patrick re-opened the hearing with comments. The proposed new language clarifies driveways and parking areas defined as structures. He takes issue with the language and sees it as overly restrictive. Wayne explained generally what other municipalities do and that it varies. Ari shared that he feels that it is a safety issue and that approval of location of driveways and parking areas is important to have in the code.
    • Wayne reviewed what is currently in the draft and what changed regarding driveways and parking areas. <<1:33>>
    • Patrick commented that he thinks the ARB ought to be reviewing all of these things and they do when they review a site plan. He would like to clarify the code to gove the ARB more flexibility. He proposed that in the ARB code and/or in this law, the village exclude driveways and parking areas as structures (as many neighboring municipalities do) and include language in the code that gives the the ARB the authority to allow driveways to be located within the setback if conditions exist to justify the location. He thinks with regards to curb cuts, that whenever possible, the access to new homes should be made from side/secondary roads. Currently this approval is made by Trustee but thinks this approval could come from the ARB.
    • Ari commented that he was thoroughly confused. He feels strongly that there is a clear public safety element to the approval of curb cuts. They should be regulated and reviewed by the building inspector. He is concerned that the ARB may be tasked with approving aspects of a design that clearly need to be reviewed and regulated by the building inspector for safety reasons.
    • Karen commented that there is clearly a problem with requiring a driveway to be located within a building envelope when clearly it needs to be allowed to go outside of the building envelope to function. She also asked why a curb cut on a side road would be preferred over a main road. Patrick explained the studies that support what he stated earlier.
    • Stephanie commented that she has done a lot of research on this topic and that other villages do regulate driveways. They regulate driveways for materials and citing. Sometimes they are deemed structures, sometimes they are not. She personally thinks the ARB has purview over driveways but thinks it needs to be clarified. But the ARB knows it has no purview over safety.
    • Brandon commented that he is really against changing the setbacks and allowing things outside of the established building envelope. There is a procedure in place that an applicant can use in the form of the ZBA. He thinks by giving some of these powers to the ARB that they didn’t previously have, it blurs lines. The village has a ZBA and they serve a purpose.
    • Patrick asked if anyone thinks there needs to be further amendments to the language in the proposed code. Brandon said he would not vote for it as it is currently written. Patrick asked him what he would specifically change.<<1:51>>
    • Karen question <<MIN 2:00>>
    • Ari question <<MIN 2:04>>
    • Wayne will make the changes discussed in the meeting and circulated the updates
    • A motion to adjourn for all purposes and keep open until the January meeting was moved by Karen and seconded by Brad. All Board members voted in favor.
  • A motion to open the Public Hearing- Calabro Easement was made by Ari, seconded by Brad. All Board members voted in favor.
    • Patrick explained that the village and Mr. Calabro are very close to reaching an agreement and both parties want to get this done. There is one sentence that Mr. Calabro’s attorney would like to include in the draft document that Patrick and Wayne need to review. It will be ready in January and Patrick would like to consider holding a Special Meeting if possible in order to get this done as soon as possible.
    • A motion to close the public hearing was made by Brandon and seconded by Karen. All Board members voted in favor.
  • There was no Executive Session.
  • The date for the next regular Trustees meeting was set for January 15th via Zoom.
  • A motion to adjourn at 11:11am was made by Brandon and seconded by Ari. All Board members voted in favor.