Hardy Plumbing
May 17, 2006

Denop: Legal Motions Pile Up

A controversial building proposal in Sag Harbor is acquiring mounting legal actions, as one lawsuit seeks to annul and reverse a village decision while another looks to dismiss the complaint.

On April 27, attorney Jeffrey Bragman, representing Dolores Fenn, owner of the Gingerbread House on Main Street, filed a motion to intervene, asking the courts to reject an Article 78 that was filed by developer Jon Gruen one month earlier and to uphold the village's decision.

The Sag Harbor Village Planning Board issued a positive declaration on the project on February 28, requiring an extensive environmental review under the State Environmental Quality Review Act. The bane of any developer, the Environmental Impact Statement is a time-consuming and expensive study.

Attorney Stephen Angel, of Esseks, Hefter and Angel, who is representing Gruen on Article 78 action, could not be reached for comment as of press time.

Gruen, of Denop LLC, which owns 127 Main Street, is proposing to expand the building into a 4000-square foot, two-story mixed use structure, with apartments on the top floor. The site sits between a home constructed in the 18th century and the Gingerbread House.

The Article 78 contends that public opposition "improperly motivated" the village to issue its pos-dec. It also maintains that the village was trying to lower the value of the property in order to acquire it at a cheaper rate.

In January, Assemblyman Fred Thiele suggested a public acquisition of the Gruen property through the Community Preservation Fund to be used as open space.

Bragman is waiting to see if the village will consent to his motion. Angel and Village attorney Lisa Kombrink have until May 25 to respond. Kombrink was not available for comment by press time.

In the past, Bragman asserted that the proposed building project would create a "high-density feel," overwhelming the Gingerbread House. The 19th century home is situated on a hill about 10 feet above Main Street. Gruen's new structure would fall just one foot shorter.

Bragman also argued that the project had been sidestepping important legal procedures in obtaining parking permits and approval of the proposed width of parking isles. Attorney Dennis Downes, who is representing Gruen on the project, maintained that his client is protected by village zoning.

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