Board adjourns second Warner Avenue hearing to March

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A rendering of the proposed development on Warner Avenue. (Photo courtesy of Mojo Stumer)

A second hearing on a proposed four-to-five-story mixed-use development on Warner Avenue before the Village of Roslyn’s Board of Trustees will take place next month, after being postponed from the board’s meeting on Tuesday.

The hearing was one of two adjourned at that meeting, which Mayor John Durkin announced soon after it began.

“We will be, at the request of the applicants, adjourning the public hearings … and we’re going to continue them to our March meeting,” Durkin said.

In October, the board passed a change of zone for 281-301 Warner Ave. from commercial to mixed-use. The property currently houses a strip mall of empty storefronts and was zoned for commercial use only.

J.K. Equities, headed by Roslyn resident Jerry Karlik, has submitted an application for a transit-oriented mixed-use development on the site, comprising one floor of retail and either three or four floors of 54 residential apartments.

The plans have been widely discussed due to the Roslyn school board’s stance against the proposal since July 2019, when President Meryl Waxman Ben-Levy claimed that the district was “functioning at capacity.” Ben-Levy also successfully asked the board to change the date of a public hearing on the zoning change in 2020.

“[We] have reduced the density, eliminating one residential floor, decreased the retail component by 50 percent, increased parking, and I’ve reserved 20 percent of the apartments as affordable workforce housing,” Karlik said at the first hearing, held in January. “We will also be making a sizable monetary contribution to the village to defray costs associated with this project, as well as other municipal expenses enclosing this project [which] will be a significant improvement to this area of the village, and a benefit to the areas beyond the village’s border.”

During the public comment session at the January meeting, Roslyn Gardens resident Randi Beatus, who lives near the proposed development, said she was wary of what the building would do to her area’s taxes.

“This is going to raise the taxes, it’s not going to be good for the people around [here], even the Roslyn Gardens people who have lived there for a very, very, very long time,” Beatus said. “And the prices, when I moved in about 16 to 17 years ago, the prices hadn’t gone up for like 20 years. When I got there and bought, in three months time they went up. What’s gonna happen when this building comes to light? What’s going to happen withour taxes?”

Maureen O’Connor of Roslyn Heights took issue with the building’s size and what she perceived as an addition to parking problems in the neighborhood.

“This latest design for the building continues to be too large for the location as Randi stated, it’s too tall, there are too many rental units, and there’s insufficient parking to accommodate the expected number of residents, employees and customers,” O’Connor said.

“As we’ve stated before, our neighborhood streets are already inundated with parked cars belonging to Roslyn Gardens residents, Sun Harbor Manor employees and commuters who are unable to park in the train station. We should not have to accommodate overflow parking from future residents and customers for this site.”

Stacy Backhash of Roslyn Harbor, a parent of two children in the Roslyn school district, voiced support for the project and told the trustees that she “fundamentally believe[d] that this project will have no material impact on the school district.”

“I know the school board has been a vocal opponent of this project but I want the Board of Trustees to know that the school board’s views do not fully represent the views of the parents at the school,” Backhash said.

Resident Lisa Aberle added that while a mixed-use project seemed to be a good idea, she shared concerns about parking and the development’s size.

“I think it is too big for that area,” Aberle said. “I think that smaller apartments, less apartments and less stories would be significantly better.”

Representing the Roslyn school district was attorney Carrie-Ann Tondo of Hauppauge-based Ingerman Smith LLP, who took issue with the traffic engineers’ and demographer’s reports.

“Enrollment is increasing, and the enrollment report [provided by the village to the district] finds that the growth projected at the district over the next five years is 130, which will increase to 190 as a result of new housing developments,” Tondo said. “As you know, the district schools are operating at capacity and that new housing construction will impact class size.”

Jordan Fensterman of Roslyn Estates voiced strong support for the project.

“I think it’s fairly straightforward that this is something that is going to benefit pretty much everyone in Roslyn,” he said. “To keep [the site] in a state of disrepair so people are not going in there so there’s better parking, I understand why people would want that, but I don’t think that truly benefits all of Roslyn.”

The Board of Trustees will meet to discuss the matter on Tuesday, March 16, at 7 p.m. over Zoom.

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