Roosevelt apartment talks resume

Residents blast proposal before village Board of Zoning Appeals

Posted

The Valley Stream Board of Zoning Appeals discussed a proposal for a multi-unit apartment complex at the corner of Roosevelt Avenue and Cochran Place for the second time on Oct. 1. A parking lot now occupies the site.

The proposal, by Manhattan-based Kay Development LLC, is slightly changed from its previous incarnation — rejected at the June zoning board meeting after its members failed to secure a supermajority needed to override the Nassau County Planning Commission, which had also rejected the project.

This time, the proposal has been modified to include 17 units, instead of the previous 18, to ease density and provide additional parking, but it is still seeking seven variances from the board, including density, parking and yard setbacks. Advocates for the proposal made their case, while residents raised concerns about traffic and garbage the project might generate, as well as how it would alter the neighborhood’s character.

“We’ve done almost everything we can,” William Florio, a facilitator for Kay Development, said of the changes made to the proposal, adding that he hoped they might ease board members’ concerns. Florio maintained that the complex would not adversely affect the neighborhood, a point that elicited grumbling from disagreeing residents in the room.

“We have done what we could,” Florio reiterated. “. . . We want to protect the neighbors.”

The apartments would still have a 38 percent shortfall in the number of parking spaces required by village code, and would exceed density limits by 41 percent. A number of residents spoke against the project, and none offered their support.

“I’m concerned that the back of whatever building is built there will be facing me . . . I will be looking right at the back of that building,” said Leeroy Elis, a resident of Cochran Place whose house would be adjacent to the apartments. Elis also expressed concerns about garbage accumulation for a housing complex of that size, and questioned where it would be stored for pickup.

Thomas Dowling, who works in real estate, said he would prefer to have more housing in Valley Stream that young renters could afford. Putting 17 units on a corner in an area that already suffers from heavy traffic congestion due to its proximity to Sunrise Highway, and that is used by children and teenagers traveling to school, Dowling said, sounds like an accident waiting to happen.  

“We are cramming so many people into a small space,” he said.

Fran Kobetitsch a 47-year resident, also raised concerns about congestion. “We have enough traffic problems with cars,” she said, adding that she was worried about residents of the apartments hosting company, with visitors parking on the street.

“Why should we live here anymore?” Kobetitsch asked “. . . I might as well go live in the city. This was such a beautiful community. I loved Valley Stream, and I hate to say it, but you are dirtying it up.” 

Zoning board Trustee Salvatore Pizzolo said he didn’t approve or disapprove of the apartment complex proposal. However, he does support the idea of rental apartments being built in the hope that young adults could have somewhere to live in Valley Stream. 

“This is about young people who want to work in the city and can’t afford to pay $6,000 for a room,” Pizzolo said. “The younger generation doesn’t seem to want to buy houses anymore . . . These young people would like to live comfortably and be able to come back and forth in and out of the city.”

Responding to Pizzollo, resident Dena Solis expressed her objections to the project. “Mr Pizzolo, you are concerned about young kids having somewhere to live . . . I have four kids in their 30s . . . My son told me, ‘Why do you keep calling it Valley Stream, Mom? It’s Valley Queens,’” she said, referring to the moniker sometimes used to describe the neighborhood. “. . . They don’t want to live here because it’s like the city, except they have to pay higher taxes to live in a place that has as much traffic as the city.”

Solis vowed to put her home on the market, she said, “so now there will be a new house that these young people can buy . . . because I don’t want to be here anymore.” 

Her response drew applause from the crowd.

Board members scheduled further discussion, and a vote for Oct. 15, although it is unknown whether the Roosevelt proposal will be on the agenda. 

Correction: A previous version of this article provided the incorrect date for the next zoning board meeting. It is on Oct. 15, or the third Tuesday of the month.