Sag Harbor Officials Says ‘Settlement’ Would Have Been Illegal

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A vocal Sag Harbor resident who is suing the village said he offered to settle last month, to no avail.

Michael Gaynor, who lives on Madison Street, said the Village Board was never made aware of his offer because Village Attorney Fred W. Thiele Jr. never told them about it.

That’s because the offer is illegal, according to Mr. Thiele. “You can’t buy a building permit for $100,000. It was rejected out of hand,” Mr. Thiele said. “It is not something the village could accept.”

In his suit, which was filed in State Supreme Court, Mr. Gaynor accuses the village’s Board of Historic Preservation and Architectural Review of stonewalling his application for several months, causing his application to expand and restore a house to get caught in the current building moratorium, which is set to expire in January. He alleges that the ARB acted in an “arbitrary and capricious” manner.

This week Mr. Gaynor said had offered the village a $100,000 donation to fix up the Old Burying Ground, where Revolutionary soldiers are buried—a cause important to him as an Army veteran, he said—as well to make reduce his proposed expansion by roughly 1,000 square feet, in exchange for a building permit.

Despite its illegality, Mr. Thiele said he ran the offer by the village’s legal counsel, Devitt, Spellman, Barrett, LLP, which is representing the village in Mr. Gaynor’s suit. Together, he said, they agreed that it is a “blatantly illegal offer.”

Village Mayor Sandra Schroeder confirmed that she was not aware of Mr. Gaynor’s offer until after a Village Board meeting on December 8 at which Mr. Gaynor addressed board members directly, but she noted that the offer was not valid anyway. “Our attorneys advise us when there are legitimate offers made,” Ms. Schroeder said.

She continued, “I wish that man had just gone through the process with the moratorium. He probably would have his foundation set right now. He planned a very nice house, lowered the size of it and everything else and this other stuff was sideline nonsense.”

“I am simply trying to be a good guy in the village,” Mr. Gaynor said. “Fred’s fiduciary duty is to present this.”

He added, “If the village’s attorneys did not share that offer with the village, then they have an ethical problem as well.”

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