Harbor Heights Plan Denied

       After three years reviewing an application to expand the Harbor Heights gas station on Route 114, the Sag Harbor Village Zoning Board of Appeals last week denied the majority of the variances that John Leonard had asked for to expand the gas station and establish a convenience store.

       The Z.B.A. issued its final determination on Feb. 18, shooting down variances for a 718-square-foot convenience store — the maximum under the code for the display of goods for retail sale in an accessory convenience store is 600 square feet — the addition of gas pumps, and landscaping along neighboring properties. Those alterations would amount to an undesirable change to the character of the neighborhood, the board said.

       “In creating this special exception use, the village trustees were clearly concerned about the impact it might have on residential neighbors,” the board said in its determination. However, the board called the 600-square-foot limitation “an arbitrary figure.”

       The zoning board granted relief from the 50-foot front yard setback under the village code, which will allow Mr. Leonard’s corporation, Petroleum Ventures, to put a convenience store in the existing building, which is 15.6 feet from the road.

       “The board finds that locating the proposed accessory convenience store within the existing structure will not create an undesirable change in the character of the neighborhood,” the determination states. Harbor Heights is a pre-existing, nonconforming property in a residential district on a 43,375-square-foot lot. Board members said the request for the 34.4-foot variance is not “a self-created hardship,” as the gas station has been in existence for more than 60 years.

       Dennis Downes, Mr. Leonard’s attorney, said Tuesday he has 30 days to file an appeal. “I’m waiting for the client to digest the decision and see what he wants to do,” Mr. Downes said.

       Mr. Leonard has already substantially scaled back the proposal to redevelop the gas station and auto repair shop on the premises, in part because of strong opposition to the project.