09/27/13 11:00am
09/27/2013 11:00 AM
RACHEL YOUNG PHOTO | A view of Peconic Bay from Sterling Street in Greenport.

RACHEL YOUNG PHOTO | A view of Peconic Bay from Sterling Street in Greenport.

Greenport property owner Paul Henry wants to build a two-story yacht club on Sterling Street — but before he submits an application for site plan approval, the Greenport Planning Board said it wants an idea of what the proposed building will look like and exactly how the property will be used.

During an application pre-submission conference at the village Planning Board’s Thursday work session, board members discussed their concern that the structure Mr. Henry hopes to build might infringe on residents’ views of Peconic Bay. The lot, which is 25 feet deep and faces the water,  is owned by Osprey Zone LLC, a private holding company of which Mr. Henry is the principal. Osprey Zone also owns a marina on the property that currently rents boat storage space to eight tenants, Mr. Henry said.

“This is a very small piece of property and it’s separated from the other side of the street,” board member Lynn Atkinson-Loveless said. “It might seem very imposing and have a very big impact on that neighborhood in terms of changing what’s there.”

David Kapell, who retired as Greenport mayor in 2007 and continues in his real estate business, attended the meeting as an authorized agent for Osprey Zone. In a phone call, Mr. Kapell said the proposed yacht club would sit six feet back from Sterling Street. To maximize parking, the structure would be built eight feet off the ground, allowing cars to park underneath it, he said.

When board member Lynn Atkinson-Loveless said she was confused as to how the proposed yacht club would be used, Mr. Kapell told her he envisions having a restroom and shower facilities, storage space, an ice-making facility and marina office. The men said they’d also like to create a sort of common room for yacht club members on the building’s second floor — a place where people who store their boats at Osprey Zone’s marina can “congregate, socialize and relax,” Mr. Henry said. He added that he has no plans to operate a restaurant, construct a bar or serve alcohol in the building.

At the meeting’s conclusion, board members said they hoped Mr. Henry would present a thorough application for site plan approval.

“I think that we’ve made our points and what we hope to see on the application,” Ms. Atkinson-Loveless told him. “We don’t have it yet, so we’re trying to give you a sense of what our concerns are.”

Standing outside the firehouse after the meeting, Mr. Henry said he thought what the Planning Board told him and Mr. Kapell was “informative.”

“It gives us some homework,” he said. “I feel like we’re all on the same page.”

Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this story suggested Mr. Kappell was the principal on the project. He represented the project as an authorized agent.

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06/25/13 9:59am
06/25/2013 9:59 AM

CYNDI MURRAY PHOTO | Ed Reale of the North Fork Housing Alliance speaking during the Village Board’s rental law hearing Monday.

“Cruel.” “Unjust.” “Over the top.” Those were just some of the harsh words Greenporters, many of them landlords, used to describe a proposed village law to regulate rentals for residential properties during Monday’s public hearing on the issue.

The proposal aims at eliminating illegal apartments within residential homes, which the board believes encourages the deterioration of the Village’s housing stock – leading to blight, excessive traffic, parking problems, an overburden on municipal services and general public health and safety concerns.

The controversial issue has been in limbo for at least three years, according to Mayor David Nyce. Back in December 2012 the mayor said the draft law was changed because residents had expressed privacy concerns. At that time, the Village Board voted to keep the public hearing open and to send the draft law back to the code committee for further review.

During the past several months the draft ideas have been bounced around in code committee. The proposal was recently amended, however the changes do not satisfy residents.

“This is completely out of touch with village history,” said former Greenport mayor David Kapell, who said the laws regulating rentals that are already on the books are sufficient due to past adjustments to regulations.  “Trustee Hubbard, Trustee Phillips, Trustee Robins you were all here in 1979 when Greenport was described as housing some of the worst slums in Suffolk County. There is just no comparison to the conditions that exist today and the conditions that existed then.”

Furthermore, Mr. Kapell said the new proposal targets the poor.

“I don’t know who wrote this thing but it reads like a fascist manifesto to attack immigrants and low-income families that distinguish this village. It talks about a traditional family. What is a traditional family? Who decides? The mayor? It’s preposterous.”

He went on to say that law-abiding landlords would be subject unfair criminalization under the law and leave many more year-round residents, who rent rooms in private residences, on the streets.

Mr. Kapell was not alone in his opinion. Not a single speaker favored the rental regulations.

“This is a mean-spirited law,” said Ed Realer, founder and member of the Board of Directors of the North Fork Housing Alliance and a real estate agent. “It’s vindictive and unfair and I don’t think that’s how this village has operated in the past.”

Mr. Reale said the law was practically uninforcable and intrusive. “The presumptive evidence is way over the top,” he said.

In a letter submitted to the board, an unidentified resident wrote: “This insults me to my core. What is it about this board that thinks it needs regulate other people?”

CYNDI MURRAY PHOTO | Village Trustees (from left to right) David Murray and George Hubbard and Mayor David Nyce listen to the criticism of the proposed rental law.

The law would establish minimum quality standards for habitation, including partitioned bedrooms and separate entrances, kitchens, electric meters and cable lines.

Homeowners that wish to lease space in their homes would be required to obtain a rental permit. A five-member board appointed by the mayor and approved by the Board of Trustees will review the application.

Those found in violation could face fines of up to $5,000 or imprisonment.

The board will readdress the issue on July 22.