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Five plans proposed for site near Oceanside Jewish Center

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Oceanside Jewish Center is planning to sell more than half of its land, and there are five options for the temple’s future neighbor: a market-rate apartment building, an assisted-living facility, affordable senior housing, self-storage units or a medical office.

About 150 residents — many of them opposed to the development — attended a public forum about the plans on Sept. 18. Real estate investor Charles Weinraub, who will buy 24,000 square feet of the 40,000-square-foot property, invited community members to share their opinions that evening.

Weinraub is known on Long Island as the “handsome homebuyer.” He has been flipping homes since 2013, and recently began a foray into commercial development.

“Obviously I’m here to make money, but I believe there is a socially responsible way to do that,” he said. “Oceanside Jewish Center wants to be here for many decades to come, [and I hope to] allow them to thrive and become their very best.”

Oceanside Jewish Center has shrunk from more than 1,000 to 500 members, Weinraub said. With funds from the sale of its land, the congregation will renovate facilities in 2021.

The land being sold is currently zoned in the Town of Hempstead for single-family houses. Early in the meeting, one resident asked why Weinraub would not build single-family homes on the plot. He answered that it would not be “economically viable,” and the houses would not sell due to high taxes.

For any of the five proposed plans, the town’s Board of Zoning Appeals would need to approve rezoning for commercial use, as well as a subdivision of the land, which will be the subject of future public hearings.

The proposed apartment buildings would be rent-based with 120 units, Weinraub said. Overall, those options were unpopular with the crowd.

“Any solution that is not housing seems to make sense,” one resident said. “We can’t afford to bring any more people into this area.”

Residents also raised questions about the potential decrease in parking and property values, increased traffic congestion, the appearance of the development and safety for students walking home from Oceanside High School — just a few blocks down the road. Weinraub noted that the plans are in the beginning stages, and there will be several studies and blueprints presented at future meetings.

Weinraub also noted that he and Mandalay Holdings, the company he will work with, will finalize plans in the future “based on the wants and concerns of the community and what is in demand.”

Later, in an email to the Herald, Weinraub said that the top contenders were the two senior housing options — assisted living and rentals for people 62 and over — based on “numerous meetings and conversations” with Oceansiders.

“My team and I will continue to explore these and other options before making a final decision,” he said.

Before the Sept. 18 forum, Weinraub met with the Oceanside Chamber of Commerce and the Oceanside Kiwanis Club to talk about the development. “I thought it was a nice gesture — nice that he’s doing his rounds,” Tom Cisero, a Kiwanis Club member, said of Weinraub’s presentation. However, he noted that Kiwanis and the Chamber would not endorse any of the projects, and they have brought their concerns to Weinraub.

A change.org petition calling to end redevelopment by Mandalay Holdings — “Stop Proposed Redevelopment of the Oceanside OJC” — had garnered about 800 signatures in four days when the Herald went to press on Monday.

In an email to the Herald, longtime Oceanside resident Ryan Sheriff said, “It’s quite distressing to think what my children will be walking to school with, should [the town] look to change the zoning to a multi-family complex. Doing so will surely wreck the small and peaceful town Oceanside has been known for.”

Leadership at the Oceanside Jewish Center had not responded to a request for comment by press time on Monday.