Sag Harbor Planning Board Closes Public Hearing On New Plans For Harbor Heights

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A new proposal for the renovation of the Harbor Heights Service Station on Route 114 in Sag Harbor could move forward later this month, according to Village Planning Board officials.

Earlier this year, the Sag Harbor Village Zoning Board of Appeals rejected a different proposed renovation and expansion of the station, but just this summer, the property’s owner came back with a revised plan. Instead of constructing an entirely new building for a convenience store, as was previously proposed, Petroleum Ventures LLC is seeking to redevelop part of the existing building at the station into a 600-square-foot convenience store that sells soda, chips, coffee and other items much as a 7-Eleven does.

The company also seeks to add a repair garage, office and customer service area, a utility room and storage area, and two handicapped-accessible bathrooms to the building.

Additionally, Petroleum Ventures wants to relocate the lone fuel pump island farther away from the curb, construct a 15-foot canopy, and add two more islands with a total of six more fuel pumps. The proposal also includes two new curb cuts for vehicles to enter and exit Route 114, plus landscaping, a new sanitary system and drainage control structures.

Unlike the last proposal, which went through years of extensive review, this one does not need any variances from the ZBA—just site-plan approval from the Village Planning Board.

Last week, after there was no public comment on the application, Planning Board Chairman Gregory Ferraris closed the public hearing on the proposal, referring it to the village engineer for review. Mr. Ferraris said if the board decides to move the application forward at its next meeting on Tuesday, December 23, Village Attorney Denise Schoen will draft a resolution for a formal approval in time for the meeting in January.

The application has received less scrutiny than it did last time. Mr. Ferraris said that all issues that were brought up previously have been addressed with the new proposal, and the board determined that, under the State Environmental Quality Review Act, no environmental review was necessary. Overall, Mr. Ferraris said, it appears that the renovation will benefit the community.

“There were definitely some adverse issues with the original application,” he said this week. “The process was a lengthy process.”

At last week’s Planning Board meeting, John Leonard, who owns Petroleum Ventures, said the renovation at his service station is much needed. “Right now, the building is about to fall down,” he said.

Dennis Downes, the attorney representing Mr. Leonard, said that moving the fuel pump farther away from the curb will prevent cars from lining up on Route 114 for gas, as they did in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, when there was a gas shortage.

Planning Board member James Larocca, however, did voice some concerns about the station in relation to the speed at which vehicles travel on Route 114. He said having the new convenience store and other amenities at Harbor Heights would increase the number of customers, with more people slowing down and stopping to turn in to the service station. Noting that drivers often travel significantly faster than the posted 40-mph speed limit, he said he was concerned that the proposal didn’t offer any ways to mitigate the speed of traffic.

“If there is a flow of traffic in and out of the site above the current flow … my question is, are there any measures that are suggested by that?” he asked.

Mr. Downes countered that the traffic questions were beyond the applicant’s control, and Mr. Ferraris agreed. Because Route 114 is a state road, the chairman said, the Village Board would have to ask the State Department of Transportation about reducing the speed limit. Last month, village officials said they planned to ask the DOT to reduce the speed limit to 30 mph.

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