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Village of Rockville Centre approves rezone on Long Beach Road

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The Village of Rockville Centre Board of Trustees unanimously approved the rezoning of a portion of property on the corner of Long Beach Road and Kennedy Avenue on Nov. 4.

Local Law 1804B, which outlines the rezone, was the first item on the board’s agenda at its monthly meeting. Previously zoned as Residence A, the land vacated by Schenone Florist and Montemerano Plumbing is now zoned Business A-1.

“Having investigated all of the possibilities, some that we can control and some we can’t down the road, this is, in my estimation, the best protection for the residents near there,” said Village Trustee Nancy Howard.

The change comes after a years long effort to adjust zoning laws in what village officials call “the Long Beach Road corridor,” along Long Beach Road from Kennedy Avenue to just south of Merrick Road, Village Attorney A. Thomas Levin said at the meeting. In 2017, Business A districts in that area were changed to the new Business A-1 district to have “more orderly and compatible development of those properties,” according to Local Law 2-2017.

Business A-1 contains 13 permissible uses and, unlike Business A, limits the height of buildings to 18 feet tall, which officials say will help businesses in the area stay in character of their surroundings.

However, reclassifying what has become known as “the Schenone property” took a bit more deliberation than others in the area did, village officials noted. Unlike the other properties, it was not zoned Business A before the rezone; it was zoned Residence A.

Some residents who live in the vicinity raised concerns about the rezone at the September and October public hearings, and again on Nov. 4 during a 15-minute comment period

“I’m just very disappointed in everything that happened in this situation,” said Rich Collett, a Seaman Avenue resident. “I see the writing on the wall. I’m very happy with my neighborhood, and I want it to stay the way it is.”

Ultimately, village trustees concluded that the rezone would implement the best protections for the property and assured residents that any potential future properties would still go through typical zoning reviews.

The vote passed unanimously, and each trustee volunteered their reasons for voting in favor of the rezone.

“This is not something we take lightly, but something that we’ve consulted on with a leading zoning consultant who’s met with us multiple times,” said Trustee Emilio Grillo. “These are his recommendations.”

Robert Schenone, who currently owns the property, is in contract with Tom Montemerano, owner of Montemerano Plumbing, who will buy the property in the coming months. Montemerano would only buy the property if the rezone passed, and he did not wish to comment on the rezone at this time. However, he and his workers attended the Nov. 4 meeting and offered a round of applause after the rezone passed.

Some concerned residents questioned whether the Board of Trustees voted with the property owners’ interests in mind, and not the residents’, but trustees shot this notion down.

“The only motivation had nothing to do with individuals or property owners,” said Trustee Mike Sepe. “It was simply for the good of the village to lock in certain protections, make consistent a certain area of the village and prevent certain things that, under the old code, could’ve been a whole lot worse, and it’s been done in good faith.”