A local property owner failed to win over the Sag Harbor Village Board on September 10 with a proposal to use a house that he planned to build at his Glover Street property as a showhouse next summer to raise funds for charity.
For the second time, Nick DeMarco of DeMarco Design, a Sag Harbor building company, made a case—unsuccessfully—to allow a showhouse on property his company owns at 93 Glover Street, a project he predicted would be completed by next June. The project would have been undertaken in conjunction with Coastal Living magazine, which planned to feature the house in a six-page spread next summer, as well as offering daily house tours for a $20 donation fee.
A showhouse is a house used to show off design techniques and decor, usually for a fund-raising project or charity organization. In this case, Mr. DeMarco would have sold the house after the showhouse presentation was complete at the end of October 2014.
Mr. DeMarco said the house would have had about 45 to 60 visitors a day from late June through October. He estimated about 4,500 people would attend over the five months, and that $10,000 of the admission fees would go to a charity. He even offered to let the board choose a local beneficiary.
However, with the potential for another $80,000 being brought in, by Mr. DeMarco’s own estimates, the board had questions about allowing what would amount to a commercial endeavor in a residential neighborhood where neighbors are already sensitive to the issue.
“It strikes me as being a commercial operation in a residential neighborhood for 120 days, or better,” said Mayor Brian Gilbride. “It sets a terrible precedent,” added Trustee Ed Deyermond.
Mr. DeMarco said the $80,000 wouldn’t necessarily be profit for the magazine, or himself, but would cover furnishing the house, staffing the tours, security and administrative costs.
The board had received letters from the Building Department and code enforcement panning the project, with Keith Payne, the fire marshal, writing, “Sag Harbor doesn’t need to expand commercial activities into residential areas. I think the neighbors will complain as they did earlier this year when a house on Glover Street was having photo shoots on the property.”
“We get it and would love to see your house in it,” said a sympathetic Trustee Ken O’Donnell, who added that the issue was simply location, not anything in Mr. DeMarco’s control.
“I understand,” said a dejected Mr. DeMarco. “When they approached me, I was just honored.”
A record-setting rainfall of 6.25 inches on September 3 brought a contingent of residents to the meeting who were determined to get their message heard about flooding that had plagued their neighborhoods then and even before Superstorm Sandy caused thousands of dollars in damage last year. About six residents stood and spoke, with a few going on at length.
Ideas ranged from more water retention barrels on private property to planting more willow trees—three different residents championed this idea—to retain water naturally.
Others suggested that a committee of residents and board members be created to continually monitor the issue and create a comprehensive village-wide plan, an idea that wasn’t met with enthusiasm by the board, but wasn’t rejected, either.
Mr. Gilbride said the village has been consulting with Dvirka and Bartilucci Consulting Engineers, a Woodbury engineering firm, to generate a plan of attack. Mr. Gilbride said the engineers had ideas to alleviate areas such as Spring and Howard streets, but that he wanted a more comprehensive look at the village.
The issue will be discussed at future board meetings as the plan progresses.