October 9, 2013 | 550 views
A lot to be upset about
Residents protesting plan to subdivide on Stanton
A small, but vocal group of Baldwin residents are protesting a plan to subdivide a property at 980 Stanton Ave. Lead by neighbors Jack McCloy and Phil Bashe, who appeared at a recent Baldwin Civic Association meeting, the group fear that splitting the property into two smaller lots will “turn Baldwin into Queens.” They are also nonplussed because the owner of the property, James Bianco, sits on the Nassau Planning Commission that recently gave special approval for the construction plan.
Bianco’s company, Bianco Homes, which purchased the Stanton Avenue lot, required special dispensation to subdivide the 16,000-square-foot property into spaces for two homes. A special variance was granted for the project, but McCloy and Bashe feel the exception was made largely because Bianco sits on the variance-issuing commission.
“Anyone other than a planning commission board member seeking this variance would not have a chance to obtain it,” McCloy wrote recently in a release. And although Bianco recused himself from the vote on Sept. 12, Bashe, speaking to members of the BCA, put forth the idea that the developer still held sway over the commission. Bashe said that although Bianco did not vote in his own interests in mid-September, his fellow board members still work with him on a daily basis. They would have been placed in an awkward situation had they voted “no,” he speculated.
The root of Bashe and McCloy’s problem with the proposal is the fact that approximately 10 feet would separate the two homes planned for 980 Stanton. Bashe said that he and his son measured the distance between the other houses in their neighborhood and that most were divided by more than 40 feet. Bashe speculated that a 10-foot space between homes would be a low for Baldwin, and projected that such a subdivision would pave the way for similar projects down the road.
McCloy and Bashe created a petition seeking support for their views and convinced around 200 people to sign it. They also got together with neighbors to protest the construction and have filed an Article 78 Supreme Court challenge attempting to have construction halted.
Bianco’s lawyer, Lisa Cairo, a partner in the Garden City firm Jaspan Schlesinger LLP, said her client was surprised at the protests. She expressed the view that the subdivision proposal was not only legal, but was not far-fetched given the size of the property. “The fact is that the subdivision went before the zoning board,” Cairo told the Herald last week. “It required only one variance for street frontage. Other than that no variances were required. These lots are 8,000 square feet each. Well above the requirement in the area, which I believe is 6,000. They are not small lots. I think this was a good subdivision application, and I didn’t see it being denied based on the facts and on the law.”