It was standing room only at Town Hall, with many people listening from the hallway, during last week’s Zoning Board of Appeals hearing. The crowd was on hand to hear plans by operators of the Pridwin to renovate and expand the hotel.
Most speakers at the July 24 hearing endorsed plans for upgrades and expansions, but some neighbors have hired attorney Albert D’Agostino to represent their concerns about environmental impacts and other issues.
Mr. D’Agostino was unable to attend the July 24 ZBA hearing. Pridwin neighbor John Sahl asked that Mr. D’Agostino be allowed to speak at the August 21 ZBA work session, and that no decisions be reached on applications for two special permits pending the attorney’s comments.
The plans call for a two-phase project — the first related to the current main building and the second affecting existing cottages on the site. There’s also a proposed “activities center” that could accommodate special events such as weddings.
Glenn and brother Gregg Petry operate the hotel. Glenn Petry introduced Curtis Bagshaw from Cape Advisors, who operates Congress Hall in Cape May, N.J., along with other hotels, and will be working with the brothers on the restoration.
The owners are proposing a new covered entryway; upgrades to the lobby that would allow for a permanent coffee shop and other amenities, including making the structure handicapped accessible. Seats in the restaurant would be reduced from 250 to 100.
The Pridwin never had a clear entrance way, project manager Rob Coburn, also from Cape Advisors, told the ZBA. The new structure would have a clear, covered entryway that would also be handicapped accessible.
If both phases of the project were approved, the total number of sleeping rooms between the hotel and cottages would number 49, he said. The brothers also want to improve sleeping quarters for staff.
There would be a pool in the main building filled with trucked-in water as required on the Island and a septic system would be upgraded to the I/A nitrogen-reducing technology or something more advanced than that, engineer Matt Sherman said.
There were questions about an excavation under the front of the hotel, but steps would be taken to ensure that during construction, no water would flow down the hill, onto the highway and Crescent Beach.
Phase two could include reducing the number of cottages, but how many remain would depend on the number of rooms in the main hotel. Kitchens in cottages would also be eliminated.
Parking would also change to accommodate more vehicles and include some valet parking.
As for a schedule, current plans call for finishing the current summer season and beginning construction on phase one in October. Work should then be completed in time to open the renovated main building for Memorial Day weekend 2020. Phase 2 would get underway in October of 2020 and be completed in time for Memorial Day weekend of 2021.
Once all construction is completed, the brothers want to begin to expand their season, eventually operating eight months a year. But Glenn Petry said at no time do they plan a full house of guests while weddings and other events were taking place.
That was in response to questions about water use on the property and how it might affect neighbors’ wells.
Herb Stelljes appealed to the brothers to take what steps they could to maximize environmental protections, including possible use of solar panels, and installing charging centers on the property for electric vehicles.
“Get creative with this,” he said.
Letters for or against the projects have until August 14 to be received by the ZBA, while it appears probable that the earliest decision on the project wouldn’t be made at least until September.
The day after the hearing, Mr. D’Agostino, the attorney hired by some neighbors, told the Reporter he has concerns about environmental issues and doesn’t agree that no variances are necessary for the project the Pridwin owners and their representatives have described.
The Pridwin was built before there were zoning laws on Shelter Island, but Mr. D’Agostino said it’s located in a residential area and has status as a pre-existing nonconforming structure he thinks may require variances.
“There are significant issues of law and fact that have to be addressed,” Mr. D’Agostino said.