Community Library Committee Report

B. Building and Zoning

Members: Steven Hatfield (Coordinator), Priscilla Ciccariello, Arne Skilbred, Zach Studenroth, Alex Eames and David Lee


The Building and Zoning Working Group has reviewed options for both on-site and off-site expansion of the JJML. It has been determined that a major addition to the library, greater than 4,500 square feet, is not feasible at the existing location. Off-site expansion options are limited. The site adjacent to Mashashimuet Park is currently the most viable option for off-site expansion.

On-site expansion

On-site expansion has the clear benefit of a single building, lower operating costs, and unified services. (Initially, it was also believed that on-site expansion would have the benefit of lower total construction costs than those of a new building; this has been shown to be false, see cost analysis report, Appendix F.) We made the determination that the existing location is not suitable for a major expansion based on four factors:

  1. Building square footage limitations
  2. A negative impact on the neighborhood
  3. A negative impact on the historic existing building
  4. Parking
  1. Building Square Footage Limitations
    The existing John Jermain Memorial Library building is located on a 14,173 square foot (.32 acre) five sided lot. It is bordered by Main Street, Union Street, Jefferson Street, and two residential properties. It is located in the R20 zone and is subject to applicable dimensional regulations. The required building setbacks, though complex, are not the restricting factor in determining building size. In the R20 zone the maximum coverage for a principal structure is 20% of the lot area. The building’s footprint of 2,976 square feet already exceeds the maximum allowable coverage of 2,835 square feet.The acquisition of contiguous property would increase the lot area and correspondingly increase the maximum allowable coverage.The Castaldo property, 5 Jefferson Street, is located adjacent to the existing building. The property is approximately 4,000 square feet and is improved with a single family wood frame residence. Because of its extremely small size and its location relative to the existing Library building, little benefit could be gained from acquiring this property. The property is not currently for sale.The Morpurgo property is located adjacent to the existing and fronts on Union Street. The property is 9,781 square feet and is improved with a pre-existing multi-family wood frame dwelling in a severe state of disrepair. As an average size lot with a location relative to the existing library building, it is suited to an expansion of, or addition to, the library. If acquired, the combined lot size would be 23,954 square feet, resulting in a maximum allowable coverage of 4,791 square feet. Multiplied by 3 stories, this would result in 14,373 square feet of gross floor area. The property is listed as for sale, but it is unclear when and at what cost it would be available. (See report of Acquisition Working Group, “d,” in this report)
    Without acquiring additional property, any expansion of the existing Library structure will require an area variance. Though initially optimistic, it is the opinion of our Working Group that because of the potential negative impact to the neighborhood, the inability to provide adequate parking, and the substantial nature of the required relief; variances required for a major addition could not be relied upon. However, due to the reduced impact as compared to the benefit to the library, it is likely that variances for a modest addition, of half the existing square footage or less (1,500 sq. ft. footprint, 4,500 sq. ft. gross floor area), could be obtained.
  2. Negative Impact On the Neighborhood
    During the course of our research, our Working Group presented two major on-site expansion scenarios to the public, one doubling and one tripling the size of the existing building. The presentations included possibilities for increasing parking in the area and improving traffic flow. It was clear from public feedback that the residents of the neighborhood were opposed to a major expansion of the existing building.The existing building is located adjacent to the business district, in a dense neighborhood consisting of closely spaced historic residences, public museums and churches, and is served by a complex network of narrow streets. A major expansion of the library would have a significant short term negative impact from a major construction project on a limited site, a long term negative impact on the neighborhood from increased traffic in an already congested area, and the physical size of the required structure would be a detriment to nearby properties and the historic character of the neighborhood.
  3. Negative Impact On the Historic Library Structure
    Though not a major contributing factor in the determination of our Working Group, it is generally accepted that a major expansion of the existing building could be detrimental to its historic integrity, and that its preservation as a historic landmark is better served by not intensifying its use.
  4. Parking
    It is not likely that the additional parking required by a major expansion could be provided. Though there have been no formal parking studies, it is generally agreed among the members of the CLC that there is currently no excess parking, that the existing parking is not particularly suited to traveling with children, and that drop off and pickup areas are inadequate or non-existent. At a minimum, we must plan for library usage to increase in direct proportion to its physical expansion; two to one is actually more likely. Simply put, if the existing building were to be doubled in size, there would be twice as many patrons requiring parking than there are currently.In public presentations, our Working Group tested ideas for increasing area parking and improving traffic flow. These ideas ranged from adding curb extensions to creating a parking lot. The neighborhood residents voiced strong opposition to any modifications that would result in an increase in parking and traffic. Some parking could be provided if the Morpurgo property were acquired but again residents were resistant to the idea of a substantial parking area on a residential lot in the historic district.In addition, the JJML is required by Village code to provide on-site parking in proportion to the size of the expansion (1 space for every 40 square feet of seating area, 1 space per employee, and 1 space per 500 square feet of storage area or stacks). Again, relief from this code can be granted through variances; however, due to the limited on-street parking and neighborhood resistance, the necessary variances could not be relied upon. Similar to the area variances, it is likely that the JJML could obtain the necessary parking variances for a minor expansion (the benefit to the library would outweigh the detriment to the neighborhood). If the expansion consisted mostly of service, mechanical space, and stacks, and did not result in a significant staff increase, parking requirements could be minimal.

Fig. 1

Figure 1 represents a 4,500 gross square foot addition to the existing building (Assumes 3 equal stories).

Fig. 2 & 3

Figures 2 and 3 represent a 7,500 and a 13,500 gross square foot addition to the existing Library (assumes 3 equal stories) and include the adjacent Morpurgo property. Figures 2 and 3 were presented to the public at the October meeting of the CLC.

Fig. 4
FIG. 4: Area Parking Litmus Test

Figure 4 is a study of potential parking opportunities, and various traffic calming elements for the area which includes the present JJML building, as well as the Sag Harbor Whaling Museum and SPLIA’s Custom House (a.k.a. “the historic triangle”). This study was presented to the public at the October meeting of the CLC.

Off-site expansion

While reviewing on-site expansion, our Working Group was actively investigating off-site possibilities. We quickly discovered what we had all suspected: that due to the nearly complete development of Sag Harbor Village, and the generally small lot size, there are not many options available. At the request of the CLC, our working group reviewed three possible sites: the former Bulova factory, the Schiavoni property on Jermain Avenue, and the property at 425 Main Street adjacent to Mashashimuet Park, which is already owned by the JJML.

We would note here that although the JJML serves the entire Sag Harbor school district, we restricted our search to the limits of Sag Harbor Village. We felt that it was vital to maintain the JJML’s proximity to the schools, churches, institutions, and businesses that make Sag Harbor village the cultural and economic center for the residents of the school district.

  1. Bulova
    The Bulova site was the subject of brief, but intense interest from the CLC. The property, located on Division and Church Streets, is approximately 100,000 square feet and is reported to contain approximately 70,000 square feet of floor area. Reasons for our interest in this site include:

    • Its proximity to the existing JJML building, public and private schools, local institutions, and the business district
    • Parking opportunities
    • Adaptive re-use and mixed use potential
    • Historic preservation
    • No new density.

    At the time of the CLC’s initial interest in September of 2005, and for most of the last decade, the Bulova property has been shrouded in complex legal, ownership, and environmental issues. After failed attempts to communicate with one of the owners, and on news of another change in ownership, our instincts told us that even if possible, arrangements for the use of the Bulova property could not work with the JJML’s timeline. It was agreed that Bulova should be taken off the table.

    The sale of the property proceeded more quickly than anticipated. The new owners are expecting to submit plans for the development of the Bulova property sometime in the summer of 2006. The JJML Trustees contacted the new owners and their architects. It was determined that adequate space at Bulova could not be provided for use of the JJML.

  2. Schiavoni Property, Jermain Avenue
    The Schiavoni property located on Jermain Avenue and Joels Lane is 64,587 square feet, and is improved with a pre-existing non-conforming light industrial building. This site was identified as an alternative site because of its size, which is large enough to provide adequate dedicated parking, and its location, close to the existing library site and on an established walking route from the public schools to the park. Other features of the property which interested our working group were the potential for adaptive re-use of the industrial architecture, and the site’s character, visible, yet set back from the street.The property is not currently listed for sale. However, due to its current non-conforming use and its apparent underutilization, our Working Group felt that that the property could potentially be purchased.
  3. 425 Main Street
    425 Main Street is located adjacent to Mashashimuet Park, and is owned by the JJML. The property consists of 15,760 square feet (.36 acre) and is improved with a single family one-story wood frame residence. The property is in the R20 zone, within which a municipal library is a permitted use, and abuts the historic district.Due to its relatively small size, 425 Main Street is not suited to a Library expansion unless additional property can be used or purchased.Please note:

    1. The figures in the following analysis are approximate.
    2. For parking requirements we used a ratio determined from the last architectural proposal for a 16,000 square foot building at this site, which are roughly 1 seat per 100 square feet and 1 staff per 1,000 square feet. We use the estimated figure that one parking spot requires 600 square feet of land. Village code requires 1 parking spot per 3 seats and 1 parking spot for each staff. Codes are generally considered minimum standards. Variance from the codes in the case of parking regulations would not be desirable. The analysis assumes that the majority of the parking surface is permeable so to be exempt from maximum coverage regulations. It is likely that an area variance would be needed to allow parking in a required front yard.
    3. Required septic system to be located under parking area.

    425 Main Street as it exists now could probably not accommodate a new building larger than 4,000 square feet. (17 parking spaces at 10,200 square feet, principal building and accessory structures at 3,000 square feet, miscellaneous buffer and access space at 2,560 square feet.)

    425 Main Street is currently abutted by 2 properties: an approximately 20,000 square foot residential lot to the south (not currently listed for sale), and Mashashimuet Park to the north and east. It has been proposed that the JJML expand 425 Main Street through the purchase of an approximately 23,000 square foot triangular parcel of Park land directly to the north.

    Using the above figures and assumptions it is reasonable to assume that the expanded lot at 425 Main Street (39,000 sq.ft.) could handle an approximately 10,000 square foot Library building. (43 parking spaces at 26,000 square feet, principal building and accessory structures at 7,000 square feet, miscellaneous buffer and access space at 6,000 square feet.

    With a 10,000 square foot building, the expanded site would essentially be “built out”. Further expansion could only occur through the use or purchase of additional land owned by Mashashimuet Park, or through the purchase of the residential lot to the south.

Fig. 5

FIG. 5 Area diagram of 425 Main Street.

Figure 5 is a diagram of the immediate area of 425 Main Street showing the parking area as proposed for the 2004 referendum. This diagram was presented to the public at the December meeting of the CLC. Note the triangular parcel of park land to the north of 425 Main Street.


Regardless of the acquisition of additional property, it is our determination that a major on-site expansion of the existing JJML building is neither feasible nor desirable. It is, however, the opinion of the Building and Zoning Working Group that it is both feasible and desirable that the existing building be preserved and enhanced through a renovation and modest expansion.

425 Main Street, adjacent to Mashashimuet Park, is the most viable option for off-site expansion at this time. However, a building of the size required to house the additional needs of the JJML is not feasible without the acquisition or use of adjacent property. We recommend that the acquisition of additional property be pursued.

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