Flower Hill rejects building design

Bill San Antonio

Prior to the start of the village of Flower Hill’s board of trustees meeting Monday, Mayor Elaine Phillips was presented with a pair of ceremonial scissors from representatives of the DeMatteis Organization and Oxford & Simpson Reality, whose new shopping center recently opened at 1085 Northern Boulevard. 

When the board attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony to commemorate the grand opening a few weeks ago, Flower Hill’s scissors were not up to par, and the DeMatteis Organization came to the village’s rescue. 

The DeMatteis Organization, however, could not play Superman to Flower Hill’s permit review board once the meeting began.    

After approving construction permits for the Lumermann, Viener, Mills, Baranowska, Mohan, DeGaudenzia, Sahn and Caplin properties listed on the committee’s agenda, the village board discussed changes it recommended for the development of a new family dwelling at 124 Mason Drive. 

“If you’re standing in front of one of those homes on Pinewood and look to the left, it’s a wall, you’re looking at a wall,” Phillips said. “The building permit committee has looked at things that followed code but it just doesn’t look right within the community.”

The permit review committee requested Pinewood Associates, the architectural company designing the property, to redesign the house to be consistent with the look of the rest of the neighborhood.

“We’d like to see some other ideas for design,” Phillips said. “This house is quite large and neighbors were not notified in time to review the blueprints.

The project’s architect, Bill Clemency, said the design fit with village code and that the committee did not have the authority to rule on its conclusion.

“There’s no basis for disapproving a building application based on aesthetics,” Clemency said.

Residents who live near the site, however, said they didn’t see the potential home as an aesthetic issue, but rather a safety issue, and want the opportunity to review the blueprints before a decision is made.

James Fox, who lives at 87 Hawthorne Place in Munsey Park – just behind the proposed construction site – said he wasn’t informed of the construction plans prior to the ruling from the permit review committee, and was concerned with how the construction would affect his family, particularly with raising three young children in the neighborhood.

“I would ask the committee to have the opportunity to look at the code so that I understand what my rights are, if there are any,” Fox said. “I’d like to have an opportunity to look at the plans. I’d like to understand the bonding effect of starting on construction and living next to a construction site and having three little kids. I’d just like to understand why I wasn’t notified.”

Clemency, who once served on the Flower Hill board of trustees, said village code does not require for residents from other villages to be notified of impending construction, no matter how closely they neighbor the site. 

He also maintained that all neighbors who, to his knowledge, needed to be notified of the plans, were contacted, a claim disputed by other residents in attendance.

“To the best of my knowledge, everyone was notified,” Clemency said.

Fox, other residents, and even the board of trustees said they were not satisfied with the answer.

“I’d like to understand why, if you’re in Flower Hill, you don’t have to notify neighbors right next door,” Fox said. “We’re all in Manhasset, even if we pay different village taxes.”

Moz Manoulis, of 21 Greenway, came before the board concerned that his fence may have aided burglars who recently robbed his house.

Manoulis said when he bought the house, it had numerous violations to village code that he fixed. The only violation remaining was that of his fence, which was not aligned with other fences that line the back side of the property at Middle Neck Road.

When his house was robbed, Manoulis said, he thought the burglars were easily able to look into the property. 

Because Middle Neck Road is a county road, and his fence currently resides on village property, the village could not grant him permission to move his fence, but Phillips  said the village would act as a liaison between the resident and the county to fix the issue.  

Village Clerk Ronnie Shatzkamer said in her administrator’s report that the village would receive an increase in its state highway funding, from $83,900 in 2012-13 to $105,865 2013-14.

Shatzkamer also said the village qualified for a FEMA mitigation grant due to power generator surges at Village Hall during Hurricane Sandy. FEMA will pay 75 percent of the cost for a surge protector into the village’s main electrical service panel to protect from utility surges, with Flower Hill covering $393.75 of the cost.

She added that village arborist Ann Frankel had passed her state certification exam and can now officially be considered an arborist. 

Trustee Karen Reichenbach said in her report that after attending a Residents for a More Beautiful Port Washington meeting, she became aware that increasing amounts of salt water had entered many of the wells on the North Shore, including those in Flower Hill.

As a precaution, she said, the Manhasset-Lakeville Water District had put nitrates in the water at Hewlett Well No. 4, which serves the village, and suggested the villages educate their residents about peak usage hours and to temporarily cut down on water usage.   

Phillips announced in her mayor’s report the appointments of Dr. Glen Rubin as the village’s zoning board alternate and Charles Vachris as its planning board alternate, though she said the planning board has met sparingly in the last few years.

The village also made official the appointments of its board members to various committees: Phillips will oversee the park, policy, Manhasset schools, the public library, police, roads, code enforcement, the village’s highway department, and village office; Trustee Tab Hauser will oversee the Manhasset Bay Protection Committee, the Port Washington Fire Department and Water Department, the Port Washington Office of Emergency Management and the Flower Hill Office of Emergency Management; Trustee Randall Rosenbaum will oversee trees, Roslyn Schools, the Roslyn Library, and Roslyn’s water department; Trustee Eileen Mills will oversee the village’s permit fee review as well as Port Washington’s schools and library; Trustee Scott Siller will oversee the village’s Length of Services Award Program and represent Manhasset’s fire and water departments; Trustee Bob McNamara will oversee the village’s finance and permit review committees; and Reichenbach will represent the Hempstead Harbor Protection Committee.

The board scheduled a public hearing at its next board of trustees meeting June 3 to pass a local law that would require a $50 fee and proof of insurance for any for-profit group using the fields at Flower Hill Park. 

The board approved the use of the village as part of the upcoming Don Scott Memorial 5K May 19 and issued a request for proposal on the installation of a basketball court into the village’s park.

It also began discussion on amending Saturday construction hours throughout the village, to either begin at 8 a.m. or end at 5 p.m. in shortening the current 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. window.

The board also opened discussion on creating an official policy to require liability insurance for all outside contractors. Phillips said it had always been required of contractors, but the village does not have an official policy in place.

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Bill San Antonio

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