No news appears to be good news for the newest owner of the former Sag Harbor United Methodist Church building on Madison Street in the village.
The owner, Sloan Eric Schaffer, a Los Angeles resident who said he is “excited to soon be a Sag Harbor resident,” is looking to revert the half-acre property back to its original residential zoning in order to refurbish the 16,234-square-foot structure that sits on it and repurpose the building into a single-family home, where he will reside.
On July 9, the Sag Harbor Village Board allowed for public comment on the application. Aside from a few letters of support submitted to the board, residents were mostly silent on the application.
Board members, who are expected to vote on the request at their meeting on Tuesday, August 13, are still waiting for the Suffolk County Planning Commission to offer its input on the application. But Fred W. Thiele Jr., the village attorney and a state assemblyman, advised the board that the county often leaves such matters up to municipalities.
If approved, which Mr. Schaffer said he expects will happen, the rezoning will undo an earlier change of zone that took place in 2010. In that instance, the zoning of the church property was changed from residential to commercial because Elizabeth Dow, a noted wallpaper designer, bought it and attempted to turn it into a design studio.
Mr. Thiele described the current proposal as being non-controversial with an expectation that it will pass because the property sits right on the border of Sag Harbor’s residential district and the business district. “In fact, it is the edge,” he said.
Much like other run-down properties in need of renovation, village residents would rather see the former church restored to prominence, regardless of how it is zoned, according to Mr. Thiele.