Residents, schools speak against proposed Warner Ave. rezoning

Rose Weldon
Mark Stumer, principal architect of Mojo Stumer Associates, presents plans for a possible mixed-use development should the Warner Avenue area be rezoned. Another public hearing on the matter will take place on April 22. (Photo by Rose Weldon)

Residents and school officials joined at the Village of Roslyn’s Board of Trustees meeting on Tuesday to protest proposed rezoning at 301 Warner Ave. that could lead to a four-story mixed-use development on the property.

The meeting began with Mayor John Durkin reminding the nearly 60 people gathered that the public hearing was meant to hear a petition for rezoning, not a project application.

“We have not, in quite a while, had an applicant come before us to request a change of zone,” Durkin said. “We want to listen to what the petitioner has to say and what the public has to say.”

The petitioners, who include Roslyn resident and real estate developer Jerry Karlik, were requesting a change of zone for 301 Warner Ave., which is currently zoned for commercial purposes. Karlik presented a short video indicating an intention to build a mixed-use transit-oriented building with four floors, one retail and three residential.

Lawyer Michael Sahn of the Uniondale-based law firm Sahn Ward Coschignano PLLC, who represents Karlik, said that the petitioners had met with representatives of the Roslyn school district to hear their concerns.

“We spent over two hours having a very frank and honest exchange of ideas, and certainly the school district has concerns about the ultimate zoning, and/or project,” Sahn said.

After representatives from Greenvale-based architectural firm Mojo Stumer presented the aesthetics of the possible building that could result from rezoning, representatives from the Hauppauge office of civil engineering firm Vanasse Hangen Brustlin Inc. (VHB) spoke about the effects on traffic in the area, on which the firm had conducted a study.

“There are numerous documented studies that conclude that siting a proposal such as this near an area where there is good mass transportation results in a significant reduction in terms of traffic from the site,” said Patrick Lenihan, director of transportation for VHB.

Lenihan mentioned that VHB’s study had specifically looked at the intersection of Rail Road Avenue and Main Street, which Deputy Mayor Marshall Bernstein called the “worst intersection in the village.”

Village Trustee Craig Westergard, himself an architect, noted that the current state of retail might work against the building that could result from the rezoning, citing the growth of Amazon and other online retailers.

“I really think a lot of thought has to go into this whole concept,” Westergard said. “This is an issue with what’s going to happen with retail in the distant future.”

The public hearing session heard concerns over traffic, safety and parking from residents like Maureen O’Connor of Roslyn Heights, who was concerned that prospective residents in the mixed-use development may park on the street instead of in lots.

“It’s Long Island, it’s the suburbs,” O’Connor said. “Now you have no parking for anybody who wants to come for retail establishments, especially if there’s a restaurant.”

Village of East Hills Mayor Michael Koblenz then voiced concern over accessibility for emergency services.

“You only have a narrow street, a single lane, how are trucks going to get in and out?” Koblenz said.

Lawyer Carrie-Ann Tondo of Hauppauge-based Ingerman Smith LLP represented the Roslyn school district and urged the Board of Trustees to oppose the petition, as did school board President Meryl Waxman Ben-Levy and Vice President Cliff Saffron.

“There’s all this talk of transit-oriented development, and the district is concerned about ‘not here,’ ‘not now,'” Tondo said.

Wendy Sanders of Roslyn, who is the real estate agent for 21 Lumber Road and other apartment properties in the area, told the board that it was impractical to think that those moving into the proposed building would include school-age children.

“People who’ve had babies or children in the district are looking for a long-term family home, not luxury residents at this part in their life,” Sanders said. “It just doesn’t make financial sense.”

The next meeting of the Board of Trustees will be at 8 p.m. on Nov. 19.

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