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Sag Harbor Village residents decry Billy Joel's plan to raise part of his home

Billy Joel's proposal that would make changes to

Billy Joel's proposal that would make changes to his Sag Harbor home to comply with FEMA standards sparked criticism Thursday night at a village public hearing.   Credit: Newsday/John Paraskevas

A plan by Billy Joel to raise a portion of his Sag Harbor home to comply with federal standards would create a "McMansion" in the heart of the historic village, several residents said at a Thursday night public hearing on the proposal. 

The singer’s plan would raise part of his 19-century-era home on Bay Street from 26 to 30 feet to bring it into compliance with FEMA standards and make it level with a second structure on the property.

Joel, who performed at Madison Square Garden Thursday night, did not attend the Sag Harbor Village Board of Historic Preservation and Architectural Review hearing. His wife, Alexis Roderick, attended the hearing but did not speak about the issue.

Jeff Bragman, an attorney representing the community group, Save Sag Harbor, said blending the two structures would create one continuous roofline and “erase” history in the village. As they stand, the two buildings illustrate the evolution of style and use of businesses and homes in the village, he said.

“They are blending in a two-story addition…in a way that no one will be able to distinguish what was there previously,” said Bragman, an East Hampton Town councilman and one of seven residents who took the podium to decry the plan.

Joel’s East Hampton attorney, Jon Tarbet, noted that the proposal has gone through many changes since it was first presented in 2016 and review board members indicated they were generally in favor of the project in its current form.

“He actually raised no substantive comments,” Tarbet said of Bragman. “All of his comments were inaccurate.”

Plans initially called for rotating an awkwardly situated building on Joel's property, making both structures parallel with Bay Street. The scaled-back proposal now before the board includes raising one of the buildings, adding a connecting wing and constructing a screened porch overlooking Bay Street.

The shingled, two-story home includes four bedrooms, each with a bathroom, an elevator and a piano room on the first floor, according to architectural plans.

Sag Harbor architect Anthony Vermandois said while he wasn't a fan of Joel's music, he thought it reasonable to raise the home on flood-prone Bay Street in response to climate change and the rising sea level.

 “Eventually [opponents] are going to have to raise their houses, too,” he said. “It’s just the reality.”

The board did not vote on the proposal as member Val Florio recused himself and an alternate member was not present. The matter was adjourned until the board’s Sept. 13 meeting.

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