Forum on Route 114 Station Redo

Harbor Heights proposal is for new fuel pumps, adding convenience store
Pam Kern, a 30-year employee at the Harbor Heights
Pam Kern, a 30-year employee at the Harbor Heights service station, called herself the Queen of 114. Carrie Ann Salvi

    Tuesday is the day of an anticipated Sag Harbor Village Planning Board public forum on an application to expand the Harbor Heights service station at 114 Hampton Street. According to Richard Warren, the village’s environmental consultant, the event has been called to make sure the board is addressing all potential issues rather than solicit opinions.
    John Leonard, the owner of Harbor Heights, has proposed a full redesign of the business, moving the pumps farther from Hampton Street and adding restrooms and a convenience store. The 1,874-square-foot service station building would be replaced with one of similar size abutting an existing vehicle repair garage at the rear.
    Mr. Warren has given the project his seal of approval. “I am in favor of it,” he said. In a report to the board, he noted that many aspects of the business do not comply with current standards. Environmental benefits, according to Mr. Warren, would be reduced impact on groundwater, with better drainage, upgraded fuel tanks, new fuel pipes, and a new septic system. His report also refers to the proposed architecture, design, and lighting as improvements.
    The plan has provoked objections from the station’s neighbors, documented in letters to the planning board as well as petitions. They have cited the station’s historic district zoning and expressed concern about proposed outdoor lighting and the potential for late hours that could generate increased traffic and noise.
    There have also been comments and a petition in favor  of the project, with the building’s improved appearance and condition, relocation of the pumps, and redesigned curbs that would prevent a backlog of cars on Hampton Road during peak hours.
    Mr. Leonard has said he had the building designed, including the repair garage, to look like a house. “I am not building a mini-mart,” he said. Dennis Downes, his attorney, had also told village officials that a convenience store was necessary to make ends meet.
    In a conversation on Monday morning at the station, Pam Kern, who has worked at Harbor Heights for 30 years, said it contributes to the local community in many ways. It addition to residents, she said the station serves out-of-town visitors by providing maps and directions.
    Interior floor plans call for an 11-door refrigerator, two 20-foot-long retail “gondolas,” two 16-foot-long counters surrounding an attendant’s area, a hand sink and office for employees, and a unisex, handicapped-accessible restroom. The garage would have seating for customers as well as another restroom for public use.
    The exterior plan shows a cedar-shingled, residential-style building with six windows surrounding a six-foot-wide doorway and an open porch. Instead of fronting on the road, the building is to face west toward Eastville Avenue. The garage would also be shingled and it would  have two barn-style doors. It was unclear this week if there would be one or two gas pumps in addition to the existing two. They are to be moved to a location farther from Hampton Road and be under a lighted canopy.
    A new parking area also would be further from the street, a sidewalk would be built, and new curbing would limit access. In addition to a new septic system and drainage improvements, three underground gas storage tanks would be upgraded and another one installed.
    According to P. W. Grosser Consulting, the village’s engineers, there are unanswered questions about the convenience store, or country market, including review of the requirements of the Suffolk Department of Health Services. The firm recommended further discussion of a variance request to allow the convenience store to go over the 600-square-foot limit in the village code to 1,000 square feet.
    Traffic study results are also a concern of the consulting firm because additional fuel pumps were not included in the study. Maintenance of new indigenous grasses was recommended to assure visibility, and a proposed sign, four feet from the front property line,  should also be discussed, the firm said.
    The meeting on Tuesday will begin with a work session at 5:30 p.m. The regular meeting, to include the forum, will start at 6.