The Sag Harbor Village Board unanimously approved a new chapter of the Village Code last week that toughens up regulations for building in wetlands.
The law gives the Harbor Committee—the village entity previously tasked with making recommendations when it comes to wetland and waterfront properties—the authority to review and issue permits for single-family dwellings that are on or near wetland areas. In addition, stricter guidelines for reviewing and issuing permits will be put in place.
After the village files the law with the state, a moratorium that went into effect in September on wetland permit review, processing and approval will be lifted.
The new law states that the Harbor Committee will work with village Environmental Consultant Richard Warren when evaluating all permit applications, and that various elements of an application, such as buffer zones and setbacks, have to be heavily weighed during the committee’s review. Additionally, the Harbor Committee and Mr. Warren will have to determine if the proposed project is consistent with the objectives of the new law, which are to protect the wetlands and mitigate surface and groundwater degradation.
“Houses are getting bigger along the waterfront [and] applicants want to change the elevation of their properties. Drainage issues, sanitary upgrades … sometimes inadequate buffers are installed,” Mr. Warren explained at a Village Board meeting on April 14. “I think this [new law] is going to help the Harbor Committee quite a bit.”
The proposal for a new wetlands law came from the Harbor Committee, as well as Village Attorney Denise Schoen, last summer after a series of incidents showed that the Village Code and the wetlands law did not mirror one another in their language. Since then, Ms. Schoen worked with Mr. Warren and Village Attorney Fred W. Thiele Jr. to rework the regulations so that the wording was consistent and relevant to recent development in the village, where more than half of all properties are on or near wetlands.
After the law was adopted, Mayor Brian Gilbride and the rest of the Village Board said they were satisfied and commended Mr. Warren, Ms. Schoen and Mr. Thiele on taking the time to get the job done.
“I think a lot of good work has been put into this,” Trustee Ed Deyermond said.