Mineola residents Wednesday came out in opposition to a proposed mixed-use apartment complex by the New Hyde Park-based Lalezarian Developers, saying the village is expanding too quickly in its ongoing Downtown Revitalization Project.
“I do not want a city,” resident Charles Delgidice said during a public hearing. “I love the small village feel.”
The project would add 296 apartment units, a restaurant and retail space on the ground floor at 199 East Second Street. It is the third project of its kind to be proposed for the Village of Mineola in recent years and the second for Lalezarian.
Officials said the three projects – which also includes Lalezarian’s 315-unit complex at 250 Old Country Road and the 275-unit Modern Mineola complex being developed by Mill Creek Residential – would add 880 new apartments and 1,500 new residents to Mineola.
“I think it looks horrible,” resident Ed Sabarici said, regarding the scope of new buildings being added to the village’s downtown area.
Residents also cited concerns of increased traffic congestion due to additional residents.
“We need to sit back and wait,” resident Andrea Hopkins said regarding the two current Mineola projects. “We need to see the impact on traffic.”
Patrick Lenihan, a traffic expert from Hauppauge-based engineering firm VHB, reassessed the traffic patterns at the proposed site since the last hearing in November. He said traffic would be eased by the creation of an underground parking garage that would accommodate 484 parking spots.
“I live on Horton Highway and it has become a highway,” Smith said. “I have a hard time believing 484 parking spots won’t create more cars.”
Hopkins said she wanted a traffic study expanded to analyze various traffic sites near the proposed Lalezarian development. Residents called for an independent study issued by the village rather than Lalezarian, which proposed the development under the name Mineola Metro LLC.
“We’re looking at 300 or more cars on the road if approved,” Hopkins said.
Village of Mineola Mayor Strauss questioned the height of the building, which is currently proposed as a nine-story structure.
“I still think the building is too high,” he said.
Kevin Walsh, an attorney with the firm Walsh, Markus, McDougal & DeBellis LLP which represents Lalezarian, said one alternative would be to reduce the height in the front of the building but leave it unchanged in the back, reducing the complex by 30 apartment units.
“My vote would be to take three levels off the entire structure,” Trustee Paul Cusato said.
Residents also cited property tax concerns over the project. Walsh said during the first hearing in November that the developer planned to make a proposal to the Nassau County Industrial Development Agency requesting payments in lieu of taxes – as Lalazarian had done for the 315-unit apartment complex at 250 Country Road.
“Who pays up the difference?” resident Patricia Purdy said. “Not the tenants or the owners.”
Mineola School District trustees have also opposed the development, citing the strain tax breaks Lalezarian has applied for would tighten the financial burden on the board of education and taxpayers.
School board President Artie Barnett, along with Superintendent of Schools Michael Nagler and Trustee Jack Waters were present for the hearing, but did not speak.
Barnett told Blank Slate Media last week that he is “vehemently opposed to any more [payment-in-lieu-of-taxes] arrangements.”
Nagler has questioned whether the district could also receive economic assistance if the project is approved and school enrollment as a result of the complex exceeds the developer’s projections.
Mineola Metro LLC stated again on Wednesday that they expect nine school-age children to be added to the district as a result of the 296 apartment units.
“The number they’re saying, we can handle that,” Nagler said. “What if they’re wrong, then what happens?”
Resident Kelly Stock expressed disbelief over the projection.
“It doesn’t seam plausible to me,” she said. “Wait and see what the effects of the current buildings are.”
Barnett has also questioned how many students could enter the district as a result of tenants moving into and out of the complex at an unforseen rate, saying it is impossible to predict how many additional students the district could have in the next decade.
The next hearing for the project is set for Wednesday, Feb. 11 at 6:30 p.m. in the Mineola Village Hall.