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village code

A view of the southern side of The Shipyard apartment building. File photo by Alex Petroski

Some things in life are priceless, but Port Jefferson Village has settled on what’s an appropriate cost for not providing green space when new developments are built.

The village board passed a resolution Aug. 20 reducing the fee levied on developer Tritec, who constructed The Shipyard at Port Jefferson Harbor, for not including sufficient public green space in the apartment complex. It establishes a new precedent for future developments that private parkland can be used to satisfy village’s green space requirements — at least in some small part — as determined on a case-by-case basis.

As a condition of the site plan approval granted for the 112-apartment complex on West Broadway, Port Jefferson’s Department of Building and Planning had required that Tritec be responsible for paying a parkland fee.

Alison LaPointe, special village attorney for building and planning, said a parkland fee is commonly imposed by municipalities. Town of Brookhaven utilizes a multiplier formula that requires 1,500 square feet of public green space per unit in a housing development or $1,000 fine per unit if that space can’t be provided.

The fee is intended to require real estate developers to consider preserving or creating green and recreational spaces when building large complexes. It has been imposed on other projects in the village, like The Hills at Port Jefferson, built by The Gitto Group, on Texaco Avenue. The Gitto Group, rather than paying a fee or including public parkland on its property, invested in renovations to a nearby, village-owned park on Texaco Avenue to satisfy village code requirements.

The issue has been unresolved pertaining to The Shipyard, according to LaPointe, as village attorney Brian Egan has been corresponding with Tritec Vice President Rob Kent to determine if private recreation areas provided for tenants of The Shipyard could qualify to satisfy some of its requirement. The Shipyard offers a rooftop recreational space and a ground-level plaza area for its tenants, which LaPointe and staff from the town’s building and planning department ruled could satisfy the parkland requirement for about 21 of the complex’s 112 units based on square footage.

“In the past we have utilized the Town of Brookhaven’s [formula] as they have a multiplier — either 1,500 square feet per unit or $1,000 per unit,” she said. “The square footage I don’t really have a problem with. I believe that $1,000 is a relatively antiquated number in this day and age. You can’t really buy 1,500 square feet of anything for $1,000. Our multiplier that was proposed was $1,500, so not a massive increase. And again, our calculations came down to that they provided enough green space for a portion of their 112 units, but still did not have parkland for the remaining 91, which results in a fee of about $136,500 in parkland.”

The Aug. 20 resolution effectively set a $1,500 fee per square foot of green space not provided. Trustee Bruce Miller was the lone village board member opposed to the resolution.

“I am appalled at this,” he said. “We are taking recreational space that every luxury apartment has to provide if they’re going to attract tenants and we’re dedicating that to the specific use of the tenants only and we’re calling that public space or green space. It’s not public space.”

Village Mayor Margot Garant disagreed with Miller.

“I think it’s appropriate to give a credit because you also want to encourage these [developers] to build nice places that have the amenities, that have certain areas that are green space, that are attributable to the living area,” she said.

A spokesperson for Tritec did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Billie Phillips, the original owner of Billie's 1890 Saloon, will retake control of the Port Jefferson property on Main Street. File photo by Elana Glowatz

By Alex Petroski

A decades-old Port Jefferson institution that has remained closed since a June 2016 fire could be moving toward reopening, thanks in large part to an agreement between Port Jefferson Village and the building owner.

Billie’s 1890 Saloon had to close its Main Street doors June 27 last year after a fire in the kitchen caused severe damage, and exposed several building code violations that required remedy before the business could be reopened. During an Aug. 7 village board meeting, Mayor Margot Garant and the board of trustees approved a resolution that should expedite the process.

Among the code violations — of which there were about 20 — from the village’s building department was a requirement for the installation of a bathroom that meets requirements laid out by the Americans with Disabilities Act. An ADA compliant bathroom would not fit on the main level of the building, which houses the bar, according to Garant, so instead, the building owner planned to move the kitchen to the basement and turn the former kitchen on the main floor into the new restrooms.

Because of the change of use of the building, an aspect of the village code was triggered requiring additional parking spaces be added. Being that no space was available on the property for the additional parking, the building owner could instead submit a payment in lieu of parking to the village, which is allowed under the code.

Instead of squaring the requirement with actual dollars, the village and building owner Joey Zangrillo entered into an agreement for Zangrillo to deed over land in the rear of the property, which is currently used for parking, over to the village. As a result, Zangrillo will essentially own the property that houses the building, and the remainder of the parcel will be deeded to the village.

“In talking with parking committee and Larry [LaPointe, deputy mayor], we find the land to be extremely valuable,” Garant said during the meeting. “You can’t really put a price point or tag on the size of the lot.”

The deal would be subject to approval by Suffolk County prior to finalization to ensure moving the kitchen to the basement is adherent to county regulations. As a result of the deal, Billie Phillips — the original business owner for more than 35 years who was not at the helm at the time of the fire but has since entered a lease agreement with Zangrillo to reopen Billie’s 1890 Saloon — said he is hoping to be ready to reopen in early 2018.

“This is a more than fair bargain from the village’s point of view,” said LaPointe, who is also a trustee, during the meeting. According to Garant, the area being acquired by the village is used as an informal parking area, though it will now have actual spaces painted and associated with municipal meters.

Brian Egan, the village attorney, explained that the difference in owning municipal parking spaces and leasing them to property owners from the village’s perspective is that it prevents disputes, confusion and potential lawsuits when property changes hands.

“Unlike every other municipality you would assume owns the municipal parking fields, we are a patchwork in that back parking lot,” he said.

Zangrillo praised Garant and the village for their hard work in helping to facilitate the deal and get the establishment back on track for reopening.

“The village has been nothing but extremely helpful to me as a landlord,” he said in a phone interview. “I’m looking forward to many, many years of a great relationship with my tenant. I’m looking to get Billie’s up and running for my concerned friends and villagers who have been asking.”

Port Jefferson Village is considering changing its code to make jaywalking illegal. File photo by Elana Glowatz

Crossing the street in Port Jefferson Village may soon be a ticket-able offense.

During a village board meeting Aug. 7, a public hearing was held to discuss amending the village code to include language prohibiting jaywalking on Port Jeff streets.

“No person shall, at street intersections where traffic is controlled by traffic control signals or by police or public safety officers, cross the street against a red, ‘stop’ or ‘don’t walk’ sign or signal, nor cross at any place except in a marked crosswalk, nor disobey the lawful command of a police or public safety officer,” the proposed addition to the code said.

Offenders would be written a summons to appear in village court, and penalties for violating the code would be assessed at the discretion of the court based on circumstances. Repeat offenders or offenders whose violation results in a car crash would be given harsher fines, with a maximum possible fine of $2,000.

Initially the code change was slated to be for the entirety of Port Jeff Village, but the proposed language in the code inspired questions from members of the public and the board about crossing streets like East Broadway and Highlands Boulevard, which have devices that qualify as “traffic control signals” but no crosswalks for miles. The proposed code change was amended during the hearing to limit the jaywalking restriction to commercial districts encompassing Main Street and East Main Street, and near John T. Mather Memorial Hospital where crosswalks already exist. Jaywalking restrictions will not be enforced on residential streets if the code change is passed by the board.

“Throughout the village there’s a 30-mile-per-hour speed limit,” village Code Enforcement Chief Wally Tomaszewski said during the hearing. “On Main Street there are hundreds of people a day that cross outside of the crosswalks. We have so many accidents. We have so many people that are hit by cars, people pushing off of cars, and people actually jump out in front of cars. We have children in cars that the people jam on the brakes and the kids go flying up against the dashboard and the windshield.”

Trustee and Deputy Mayor Larry LaPointe was among those in favor of the law applying to only commercial areas. Trustee Bruce Miller was against the change altogether.

“I guess I’m just a bit of a libertarian, more free range than chasing people because they didn’t cross at a crosswalk or they didn’t wait for a signal, or maybe there’s nothing to wait for,” he said. “I’m not too enthusiastic about jaywalking enforcement.”

Village Mayor Margot Garant spoke in favor of the proposal.

“I see people darting across the street all of the time,” she said. “At night they’re darting from Schaffer’s to run across the street — it’s so dangerous.”

Garant added she had previously asked the New York State Department of Transportation for a crosswalk to be added in front of Village Hall, and she planned to speak to State Sen. Ken LaValle (R-Port Jefferson) about the matter again. She also assured concerned residents that proper signage would be installed warning pedestrians about the crackdown on jaywalking.