Sterling Avenue residents are taking legal action against Greenport Village and other village entities for the second time in 15 years in relation to the 123 Sterling Ave. property.
Stephen Guyer and Kathleen Moraglia, represented by attorney Lane Bubka of Bubka Law Group, filed the Article 78 proceeding Dec. 4, 2019, against Greenport Village and its trustees, the village Planning Board and Zoning Board of Appeals and 123 Sterling Avenue LLC.
The lawsuit alleges that the village “abused its discretion” when it issued a building permit to property owner Paul Pawlowski in September 2019.
Furthermore, it requests that the site plan, building permit and 2007 stipulation agreement between the village and the Stirling Basin Neighborhood Association be overturned. It asks that the application be vetted independent of the stipulation.
The stipulation was the result of a lawsuit between Greenport Village and the association that began in 2005. Mr. Guyer and Ms. Moraglia were not association members during that time.
The current lawsuit claims the village did not review the stipulation when the building permit was issued last year — ultimately disobeying the stipulation. It adds that in the 12 years since the stipulation, floodplains, tidal charts, code requirements and other parts of the property have seen significant changes.
“The lack of effort and diligence of 123 Sterling LLC should not now result in the blind adherence to a stipulation that fails to consider new challenges and concerns,” it states.
Beyond that, the lawsuit states that the building permit contained misleading information to “avoid appropriate review” by the village prior to the issuance of the permit.
Village attorney Joseph Prokop confirmed Monday that the case is pending in Suffolk County Supreme Court, but did not provide additional information.
Mayor George Hubbard Jr. said the project has been openly discussed by the Village Board for the past 12 years, including the purchase of the property and the particulars about the permit being issued.
“If they missed it, I feel bad for them that they didn’t notice it, but it’s not like it just popped up — it’s been talked about for quite a while,” he said Friday.
Mr. Hubbard said the stipulation was established to determine what could be built on the property and he believes it has been closely followed. Only a judge can decide if the stipulation can be considered null.
“That’s the assumption of most people around us — what was built was exactly what was in the stipulation, so they were allowed to build it,” the mayor said.
Mr. Bubka could not be reached for comment this week.
Project discussed before Planning Board
Mr. Pawlowski has taken the first step in obtaining Village approval on the new, proposed plan for 123 Sterling following a Greenport Planning Board meeting Thursday.
The new plan, brought before the Board, calls for a three-story, 45,000-square-foot building with a brick exterior, Mr. Pawlowski said, but will have the same footprint. It will house 20 market-rate, single-family condos. Five affordable-rate condos will be created in an outbuilding.
The outbuilding was included in the approved plan, but its footprint has now increased and it will include a rooftop pool as well as the five affordable-rate condos.
The modification also calls for perimeter landscaping and a first-floor parking garage with 77 spaces. Additional overflow parking will be provided on the property, Mr. Pawlowski said, most of which will not be visible from the road.
In October 2019, Mr. Pawlowski submitted a modification to the 2007 stipulation agreement for the property. Builders currently working on the property are expected to adhere to that stipulation until the village approves the proposed plan.
Planning Board chairman Walter Foote suggested that the developers construct additional affordable rental units, saying that’s “more worthwhile” for the community.
Mr. Pawlowski said if all involved entitles agree to more affordable housing units, he would “absolutely” be on board.
David Gilmartin Jr. of Farrell Fritz, P.C., an attorney representing Mr. Pawlowski, said all other entities in the stipulation — the Historic Preservation Committee, Village trustees and Sterling Basin Neighborhood Association — need to host public hearings prior to granting approval. The Planning Board is awaiting feedback from those entities.