Developers seeking to build 12 condominiums on two parcels of Hempstead Avenue property totaling 1.2 acres just outside the Malverne village border, appealed to the Town of Hempstead last week for a zoning variance, but were met with strong opposition from Malverne residents, who said the traffic there is already unbearable.
“It’s just a congested area, and the worst place they could possibly pick,” said Thomas FitzGerald, who has lived across the street from the properties for 38 years. “It would exit onto Hempstead Avenue, and it’s just going to mess up people trying to get on the [Southern State] parkway.”
The parcels, at 494 and 1104 Hempstead Ave., are currently zoned as Residence A, and need to be rezoned as a Residence C-A, which allows condos, before the developers, R&B Acquisitions and Development Inc., of Franklin Square, can proceed. R&B is the parent company of 1104 Hempstead Avenue LLC, which holds the title for the properties. According to documents from the town attorney’s office, Gene Shannon and Barbara Patton, of 494 Hempstead Ave., own both parcels, which have 83 feet of frontage on Hempstead Avenue and a depth of roughly 565 feet.
Dominick Minerva, a lawyer for the developer, said during a town hall meeting on Jan. 26 that two buildings would house six condos each, and all would be three-bedroom units, with two and a half floors and an attic.
The blueprints show space for 35 cars, and part of the 1104 property, which is closest to the creek that runs between Malverne and Lakeview, would remain undeveloped. The condos’ sale prices were estimated at between $465,000 and $525,000.
Minerva agreed during the meeting that it would be written into the condominiums’ covenant that none of the units would be rentals, all would be owner-occupied, and there would be a no-left turn restriction for those exiting the property — all vehicles would have to head north on Hempstead Avenue.
Executives speaking on behalf of R&B said they had commissioned a study by the Institute of Transportation Engineers that concluded that traffic on the street would increase by only one half of one percent if the condos were built. But residents didn’t agree. “Experts don’t know as much as the people who live there,” said Eve Melia, an Atlas Court resident who said she has daily difficulties gaining access to her property from Hempstead Avenue. She also cited numerous accidents in the area in recent years, including two cars that crashed into homes on Hempstead.
Adding to the congestion, residents and town board members agreed, are the vehicles that are regularly pulled over by Malverne police for speeding on Ocean Avenue.
The developer’s site plan shows an entrance and exit on Hempstead Avenue, and a maneuvering area for emergency vehicles. The Lakeview Fire Department is reviewing the site plan.
Malverne Mayor Patricia McDonald, Buildings Supervisor Louis Santoro and more than a dozen residents attended the meeting to request that the board disallow the rezoning request. McDonald also raised the issue of illegal dumping that has been occurring on the Atlas Court side of the property for some time.
Judith Wilcox, who lives near the property, said that only two of her neighbors were informed about the town meeting, and that the town’s approach to the rezoning request was unacceptable. “We don’t want spot zoning, and this is what this is,” Wilcox said. “This is a variance almost in the same category as my neighbor who might want a six-foot fence. But this is not in the same category. This would be a major change to our neighborhood, which is already trying to absorb the amount of traffic that we have.”
Town Councilman Bruce Blakeman said the board had previously wrestled with the question of whether it would be more appropriate to build six condos instead of 12, and added that the town needed to do its own traffic study due to the number of accidents and traffic complaints from residents.
The board moved to reserve a decision until further notice.