The East Williston Park Planning Board held off on making a decision last Thursday night on a proposal to subdivide a property at 8 Sumter St. that is currently the site of an uninhabited home which has drawn frequents complaints from residents.
“We will reserve decision,” said village Planning Board Chairman John Lekstutis at the conclusion of the hearing.
Lekstutis said at the end of the meeting that the board had intended to vote on the application from BNL Construction at the outset the meeting, which was continuation of a May hearing. He did not poll the other three members of the board before rendering his decision, but they raised no objections.
In response to a question from a reporter after the hearing, Lekstutis said he was exercising his “prerogative” as chairman in deciding to delay a board vote until sometime in August.
BNL has a contract to purchase the property subject to approval to construct two homes on the property at 8 Sumter St., village officials have said.
Under the proposal, the builder would divide the property into two lots with 55 feet of frontage rather than the standard 60 feet in the area and have 5,500 square feet instead of 6,000 square feet, according to village Building Inspector Robert Campagna.
A dilapidated house on the property that has been uninhabited for years – except for raccoons – has been a frequent source of complaints from neighbors. A Nassau Supreme Court judge ruled in favor of a request by the village to demolish the house at a cost of approximately $60,000 or renovate it at the expense of the homeowner, John Muzio.
Village officials held off on taking action when informed the owner had a potential buyer.
Several residents at the meeting objected to the financial benefit Muzio would gain from selling the property to BNL.
“Muzio has harassed everyone on the block,” said village resident Nancy Kirk. “You’re rewarding him for harassing us for all these years.”
“It’s all wrong,” lifelong Sumter Street resident Barbara Seixas added. “I’m fine with one house. If not, just mow it down. I’ll help clean it up.”
John Alexander, a Sumter Street resident who said he’s had “numerous” confrontations with Muzio, also objected to granting the subdivision approval.
“We have zoning laws for a reason,” he said.
Former East Williston Mayor Tony Casella, also a Sumter Street resident, said he was unconcerned about setting a precedent in granting the subdivision.
“This board would be justified in granting this application,” Casella said.
Sumter Street resident Joe Masters said he doubted a single home with an asking price of more than $1 million would sell in that neighborhood. He said building two houses on the property would be “more adaptable to that end of the block.”
“I would prefer there’d be one house but I don’t think that’s going to happen,” said village resident Bill Blau.
One resident asked whether construction of two houses would enable the village to recoup tax liens on the house. Lekstutis said he could not answer the question.
At the start of the meeting. Lekstutis and Kevin Walsh, the lawyer representing BNL read letters into the record expressing support and opposition to subdividing the property.
Walsh also presented the board with an artist’s renderings of two houses BNL might build on the property.
“We are not saying you should do this for any reason other than a zoning decision,” Walsh said at the conclusion of the hearing. “There are other lots on this block that are not conforming.”
After the hearing, Lekstutis said he wanted the board to have time to read the transcript of the hearing before making a decision.
At the outset of the meeting, he said the hearing had been continued to permit board member Roger Cocchi to attend. Cocchi, who was absent from the first hearing, was also absent from the continuation due to a death in his family, Lekstutis said.
Walsh said there were 16 liens on the 8 Sumter Street property totaling approximately $200,000 as of two months ago. He said BNL would be obliged to pay those liens to purchase the property.
BNL principal Bruno Calleo confirmed that his company’s purchase of the property depended on receiving the subdivision approval.
He said he estimates that each of the two houses BNL would build on the property would be approximately 2,200 to 2,400 square feet each and would each be put on the market for approximately $950,000.