Roslyn Harbor OKs moratorium on subdivisions

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Roslyn Harbor Village Hall (Photo by Jason Lee)

By Jason Lee

Village of Roslyn Harbor trustees approved a six-month moratorium on residents’ applications for property partitions and subdivisions Tuesday night after a public hearing.

From now until April 1, the village Planning Board will not accept resident requests to divide properties into smaller pieces and develop new buildings on the subdivided plots. The purpose of the ban is to give an expert consultant, hired by the village, time to assess undeveloped land in the village and make recommendations for updates to the zoning code.

“We looked through the history of the village, and we saw that in the 1970’s there was a proper study done when we first enacted the zoning code,” Mayor Louis Badolato said Tuesday. “We did that study to determine what the appropriate zoning for traffic and the environment was. This was repeated in the late 1980’s, and it has not been addressed since.”

Badolato cited concerns about traffic density in Roslyn Harbor, particularly on Bryant Avenue, and about the village’s compliance with county, state and federal environmental laws to warrant the study.

“We cannot have a proper study if we have ongoing subdivisions and major construction. It’s not going to affect applications that are already in,” Badolato said.

According to the new law, any application for a subdivision filed before Aug. 1 will not be subject to the moratorium. Peter MacKinnon, the village attorney, said the law only affects subdivision plans, not building permits.

“If you have an approved lot, you can come into the village, get a permit and build your home,” MacKinnon said.

The board included a provision that allows subdivision applicants to appeal to the board for an exemption in cases in which “it would be onerous to the homeowner to wait the six months,” Bodolato said.

The law also grants the Board of Trustees the ability to terminate the moratorium early or to extend it by 90 days up to two times. That provision is to allow the board to accommodate the consultant, in case he or she finishes early or need more time to complete the study.

“The planned study is for the future land use development in the village, so they are not going to look to change Bryant Avenue,“ MacKinnon said. “They are going to look to see how the village should be focusing on its zoning code for future development. Traffic will be an issue, and how future development will affect ground water and other environmental assets is an issue.”

Badolato, said he wouldn’t know what specific zoning changes the board will pursue until after the study is complete. However, trustees said they want the study to address traffic problems in the village.

“Logically, if you subdivide there are more homes which would mean more traffic,” Trustee Sandy Quentzel said. “If you subdivide a property that is five acres and you make it one-acre pieces there are going to bring five or more cars.”

Despite the concerns with village density, the village clerk, Marla Wolfson, said the board is not looking to make a ban on subdivisions permanent.

“We don’t have that much open space. They are just looking to do what is environmentally correct,” Wolfson said.

Now that the ban is in effect, the next step is for the board to hire an expert consultant with “the appropriate qualifications and experience to do the study,” MacKinnon said. The village has received three proposals for the project.

“Cost is an issue, but it isn’t similar to bidding out a driveway because of the professional expertise that is needed,” MacKinnon said.

Badolato said he tried to get other North Shore villages involved in the study, but none wanted to pursue a moratorium now.

“We decided to move forward and get it done ourselves because it is important,” he said.

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