When the Lynbrook village Board of Trustees unanimously voted down a hotel owner’s proposal last month to rezone three nearby homes that he purchased in order to build a hotel parking lot, it appeared to be a victory for nearby residents, who had vehemently protested the plan for months.
But last week, those residents were notified by Holiday Inn Express owner Thomas Morash by certified mail that he intended to demolish the three homes at 417 Ocean Ave., 3 Merton Ave. and 9 Merton Ave., though there was no mention of a parking lot. The property is currently surrounded by a chain-link fence, and a dumpster now stands between the two Merton Avenue homes, part of the preparation for their demolition.
“We’re just going to take the houses down for now,” Morash said.
At its meeting on Monday, however, the board did not grant Morash a demolition permit, and instead voted unanimously that an environmental impact study to be done before any decision is made. Village Attorney Peter Ledwith recommended undertaking the study before a permit is granted because this is a relatively large project. “The board has a duty under New York state law to take a look at the environmental impact of the demolition,” Ledwith said.
Patti Nicoletti, who lives on Merton Avenue, said the study is a good thing for her block, but she would prefer that a law be passed prohibiting business owners from purchasing residential property with the intention of converting it to commercial use.
“I’m happy about this ruling and I’m hoping something good comes of it,” Nicoletti said, “but I’m trying to use this experience to make it so that it not only doesn’t happen to me again, but it doesn’t happen to other homeowners again.”
Ledwith said that because Morash now says only that he plans to demolish the homes and not what he intends to do with the property, the proposal raised a red flag.