Developer offers concessions for Manhasset Isle property

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Peter Dejana gives his point of view to Manorhaven residents and the Board of Zoning Appeals. (Photo by Jessica Parks)

A lawyer for a proposed mixed-use development on Manhasset Isle offered limited concessions on Tuesday night before the Manorhaven Board of Zoning Appeals in return for approved variances.

Peter Dejana, the former owner of Dejana Industries in Port Washington, has applied to build a three-story building in a two-story zone.

His lawyer, Howard Avrutine, told the board that the applicant was willing to compromise in regard to concerns over the front yard setback and the elevator bulkhead.

He said the applicant would increase the setback from the original proposal of 5 feet to 10 feet, half of the 20-foot setback requirement, as well as move the elevator shaft to the center of the structure so that it will be out of view for passers-by.

No concessions regarding the number of floors were offered at the meeting. The application had been previously adjusted from four stories to three stories.

The proposed project includes 16 apartment units and 1,300 square feet of retail space.

Caroline Dubois, the acting secretary of Manorhaven Action Committee, raised concerns during the public comment session of the hearing over the concessions. She said that the adjustments had not been submitted to the building inspector for review and therefore had not been made available to residents before the meeting.

Jeffrey Blinkoff, the attorney for the village zoning board, and the developers said that these changes would not be submitted unless the board approved the variances being sought.

The developers also seek a special permit for mixed-use along with a roof variance to allow for a rooftop deck.

They did not want to eliminate the rooftop deck because they think it will increase the viability of the property and add to the waterfront, Avrutine said.

The 22,000-square-foot property at 22 Sagamore Hill Drive is in the E1 zoning district. According to a letter read by David Mammina, an architect for H2M, this zone allows for the property to yield five two-family homes.

The letter said that Nassau County allows flow rates of 3,000 gallons from five two-family homes to the sewers. The proposed project is expected to have flow rates of 4,839 gallons.

Mammina said that his firm considers the difference minimal.

A variance will also be needed for parking. Proposed plans include 33 off-street parking spots and 83 off-street parking spaces are required.

Chairman Patrick Gibson read a letter from the Port Washington Water District signed by Chairman David Brackett. It explained that a water availability report must be obtained from the water district before a municipality issues a building permit. All needed improvements to water infrastructure in order to provide potable water must be at the cost of the property owner.

“This is good to have because it means the water district is going to be engaged in this process,” Gibson said. “That should give us all great solace.”

Once the meeting was opened for public comment, residents expressed many concerns over how the proposed complex would affect the village.

Residents were asked to speak for only three minutes in an attempt to end the public hearing by 8:15 p.m., which is when Gibson had to leave, citing a family emergency.

He said the board would not vote that night but hoped to wrap up the public comments.

He did leave at his scheduled time but the public hearing did not end until after 9 p.m. as Deputy Chairman Jeremy Devine presided.

Gina Vulcano, a Manorhaven resident who moved there from Astoria, Queens, was the first to approach the board with concerns that the village was becoming exactly what she had tried to escape from.

After many remarks, residents chanted and held up signs that read: “Build to Code.”

Gibson addressed this and said he believes zoning in the E1 district needs to be revisited by the village’s Board of Trustees.

Nick Marra, a resident of Manorhaven, spoke in favor of the development. He said  the same people came to every meeting and “if nobody wanted [the proposed property] we’d have a line from the door to Carvel but I don’t see that line.”

Dorit Zeevi-Farrington said this was a larger issue than what the zoning board should handle because it is accompanied by a building philosophy that would change the character of the village. She said that it should be something decided by the mayor and the Board of Trustees.

She also said that Gibson was advocating on behalf of the developer which she thinks he is not supposed to do.

“I am going to say something and you are not going to like it,” she said. “Every time somebody comes up to speak you are justifying the developer.”

Gibson addressed her concern and said: “My job as the chairman of the BZA, as I see it, is to advocate for every property owner who comes up here to try to help them achieve the result that they want to achieve with their property.”

Dejana said the village needs to adapt to the future of housing because “the days of new families needing single-family homes in our suburban communities are waning.”

He cited a study conducted by “Long Island’s premier economists” who confirmed that “our population is aging and our younger people are leaving.”

“My reasons for wanting to develop a former industrial site into much-needed luxury apartments into our community are not selfish,” he said. “The apartments we want to develop will be beautiful, needed and a definite benefit to the community.”

Hank Ratner, a resident of  Port Washington, said he was impressed with Dejana’s presentation. “I think he has a sincere perspective on visioning for Manorhaven and for Long Island” but thinks the project has some issues.

Ratner said he attended the meet and greet for the candidates running for the water district two weeks ago. He asked Brackett whether all of the proposed development on the Port Washington peninsula would exacerbate the salt water intrusion problems. He said that Brackett responded yes.

“I don’t want to drink salt water, your children don’t want to drink salt water, your grandchildren don’t want to drink salt water,” Ratner said.

“Peter Dejana’s project onto itself is not a problem, at least from this perspective,” he said. “But when you factor in all the development currently on the drawing board and future developments that is something you need to factor into your decision.”

Monica Desantis, a village resident, raised concern over the effects the development would have on the area’s power grid. She said that people in the Port Washington parents group on Facebook are always saying their power is out, even after it had been improved.

“We keep on developing and we don’t reinforce infrastructure that needs to be reinforced,” she said.

The vote on the application is scheduled for January.

Village Clerk Sharon Abramski said the meeting is expected to be Jan. 15, but if she cannot secure the space it will be held on Jan. 22.

An update was made to reflect the correct names of Dorit Zeevi-Farrington and Gina Vulcano who were previously referred to as Dorit Zaheet-Ferrington and Gina Bulkano.

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