No decision on 4-story apartment building on Manhasset Isle

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A rendering of the two proposed mixed-use buildings on Manhasset Isle. (Courtesy of the Secatoag 20-26, LLC)

A public hearing on a four-story mixed-use building on Manhasset Isle drew a capacity crowd to Manorhaven Village Hall on Monday, but no decision. The village’s Board of Zoning Appeals decided to adjourn the hearing until November.

The 26,000-square-foot property is bordered by Yennicock Avenue to the north, Sagamore Hill Drive to the west and Secatoag Avenue to the south. The property would have two four-story structures: Sagamore Manor West and Sagamore Manor North, each containing nine residential apartments and two commercial units. Each apartment would contain two bedrooms.

Attorney Howard Avrutine assured the board that the project would not block views of the waterfront or cast shadows and would revitalize a stagnant waterfront district.

“The architectural design seeks to create what we’d call an old Port Washington vibe, one which complements and enhances the area,” he said.

Avrutine added that the two-bedroom apartments would not attract families with school-age children, so the development would have a negligible effect on the number of students in the Port Washington school district.

The application submitted to the board requested 10 variances for the project; Avrutine withdrew two of them.

Of the remaining variances being sought, the first was to obtain a special permit for the project, which is required for mixed-use developments in the E1 zoning area. The second was a variance to allow residential and nonresidential access through the same entrance.

The third was to exceed the village’s building height of 26 feet and two stories from street level, as the proposed building had a height of about 52 feet (56 including an elevator bulkhead for rooftop access). The fourth variance was to have setbacks of five and 10 feet in various spots, instead of the required 20 feet.

Avrutine asked for variances from two code regulations — that the ceiling beams and roof beams be separated by 18 inches, and that wood-frame buildings are prohibited — that he said were unnecessary. He also requested a variance to the requirement that parking spaces must be 10 by 20 feet and said the 140 off-street parking spaces required was too many, instead offering 40.

Architect David Mammina of H2M said that the fifth “floor” would consist of a rooftop patio and that the elevator would be set back from the building’s edge so it could not be seen from the street. Parking would also be hidden behind the building.

“What you see is what you get,” Mammina said of the rendering.

An economist said the project would create 100 construction jobs and 130 secondary jobs generating $9.6 million in salaries, along with $2.6 million in aggregate gross household income by the residents. He said it would generate $220,000 a year in property taxes for the county, village and school district. About $28,000 would go to Manorhaven.

The property is owned by Peter Dejana, who purchased the lot in 2011.

Dejana previously operated Dejana Industries, which provided services such as snow and solid waste removal, out of a building at the address. He sold his company in January, and in April the company’s vice president of operations, John Hogan, said the company was looking to leave Manorhaven.

Manorhaven Mayor Jim Avena is the grant administrator for a charitable foundation run by Dejana.

The announcement of the application caused a stir throughout the village. Turnout at the hearing was so strong that Nassau County police officers had to turn residents away at the door of Village Hall. When the presentation was over, several in attendance — including a few who had waited for more than 90 minutes outside — had questions or comments for the board. Almost all of them were against the development.

“This application … is an arrogant abuse of both the letter and spirit of our village’s well-established local laws,” Caroline DuBois of the Manorhaven Action Committee said. “If granted, it would set a precedent for overdevelopment in the Village of Manorhaven for years to come.”

Others felt that the variances went too far, that the building was too tall or that the island couldn’t handle such an increase in population. The last member of the audience to speak, attorney Bruce Migatz, said that even the developer did not want to build this.

“The applicant does not want to build what’s before you tonight,” he said, pointing out that the size of the commercial units — 400 square feet — is the same size as two 20 by 10 parking spots. “I looked at the village file and I saw in that file a disapproval notice for strictly a residential development. That’s what the applicant wants to build.”

He added that the proposal was mixed-use so it could more easily be approved.

The development did have the support of at least one person in attendance: Richard Thypin, who wrote a letter backing the project and submitted it to the board during the hearing. He owns the former Thypin Steel site on Manhasset Isle, which is currently undeveloped.

Reach reporter Luke Torrance by email at ltorrance@theislandnow.com, by phone at 516-307-1045, ext. 214, or follow him on Twitter @LukeATorrance.

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