Old Westbury trustees introduced resolutions to merge the planning and architectural review boards in an effort to streamline the process, as well as changes to zoning laws that will allow for bigger projects.
Under the current system, homeowners or builders planning to do construction have to go before both the planning and the architectural review board, which meet on different dates.
If one board makes a recommendation to the applicant, he or she would sometimes have to revisit the other board to present the new information, potentially delaying the process to the next month.
“All the things that these boards did separately could all be done in a more efficient manner,” Trustee Ed Novick said.
In addition to the merger of the two boards, the trustees introduced modifications to the law that will increase the permissible volume of buildings by 20 percent and the amount of the lot that can be covered by 5 percent.
The current laws are dated in terms of the allowed building volume, and the change will update the laws to match today’s building trends, Novick said.
“We want them to be sensitive to how things have evolved,” he said. “Not only are we improving the ability to build, but also by increasing the various zones, we have the ability to build larger.”
If the merger happens, applicants would have to go to one place to present their plans, without the back-and-forth communication that occurs.
“They will be able to review an entire package or plan from an individual, so that theoretically after they look at everything, they have all the info they need,” Novick said. “Instead of something becoming a nine-month process, it can become a two-month process, or three at the most.”
The resolutions to make the merger effective will be brought to a public hearing at the next meeting on Aug. 15, after which the trustees will vote whether or not to adopt them.
“If anything, it will hopefully make it a more enjoyable experience for a homeowner in Old Westbury,” Novick said.
Novick said the board has been working on this plan since December, carefully looking at the law to see how it could improve upon the process.
The trustees plan to familiarize residents with the new system if the merger is approved, Novick said.
The merged board would have five permanent members, and one alternate who is required to attend all meetings.
Novick said they wouldn’t have to look for new appointees. Some members on the planning and architectural review boards are retiring, and the others have the experience to move into the new board.
Using the current board members would create a more seamless transition and avoid confusion, Novick said.