Manorhaven trustees unanimously agree the village is overcrowded

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Manorhaven Board of Trustees unanimously agree on overcrowding in their village. (Photo by Jessica Parks)

Manorhaven’s village board unanimously approved a motion at Thursday night’s meeting recognizing that their village is overcrowded.

Carolyn DuBois, the acting secretary for the Manorhaven Action Committee, said the recognition that the village is crowded is a step forward in solving the problem.

“This board has never done that,” DuBois said on Friday morning.

The U.S. Census Bureau estimates almost 7,000 residents live in the village, which comprises just over a half square mile of land. 

Overcrowding has become a hot topic in Manorhaven with the recent proposal to construct a three-story apartment building at 22 Sagamore Hill Drive, a property bought by Port Washington businessman Peter Dejana in 2011.

The proposed building in Manhasset Isle is expected to contain 16 apartments. The original application was for four stories and 18 apartments.

Dejana is the former owner of Dejana Industries, a Port Washington-based landscaping business that has expanded throughout the U.S., and founder of the Peter and Jeri Dejana Foundation, a local non-profit whose grant administrator is Manorhaven’s mayor, Jim Avena.

The Sagamore Hill Drive property is in a zone that limits building to two stories, therefore a variance would be required for construction to set forth.

Residents approached the board to speak out against the variance, believing that it would result in other developers applying to overstep the two-story maximum as well.

The properties of major concern to residents are the former Typhin site in Manhasset Isle and a property owned by Guy La Motta, the owner of the Manhasset Bay Marina, as well as other properties owned by Dejana.

DuBois said that with the addition of multiple three-story apartment buildings there would be a significant impact on the village in regards to parking, police, schools, and infrastructure.

Robert O’Brien, a Port Washington resident, believes that the approval of a variance will set a precedent where the village’s Zoning Board of Appeals will be inclined to accept other variances of the same nature.

Village attorney Jonathan Fielding noted that precedents do not apply to a zoning board when making decisions on individual properties with unique characteristics.

Previous decisions would not compel the zoning board to rule the same way as they did with other properties, he said.

O’Brien submitted to the board a petition of 62 signatures from residents requesting the board impose a moratorium on “building additional housing in Manorhaven and stop conversions of single-family units to more than one.”

In addition, they request the board “reject any plans for multipurpose use of 22 Sagamore Hill Drive that violates and exceeds building codes and all other property requests for variances should be denied” as they are not in the public interest.

The board is unable to pass a local law before sending out a notice and holding a public hearing, therefore the moratorium would be impossible to impose prior to the Dec. 11 meeting of the Zoning Board of Appeals where the variance will be deliberated.

In a phone call with Blank Slate Media, Avena said overpopulation is a concern in the village but property owners also have rights and enforcing a village-wide moratorium on all building activities will surely lead to a lawsuit.

Deputy Mayor Priscilla von Roeschlaub said the board has been working on overcrowding since Avena was elected.

Trustees plan to hold a public hearing on the issue of overcrowding in the spring. Avena encouraged specific recommendations on how to manage the congestion to be submitted to the board before the hearing.

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