To the Editor:
In last week’s story “Developer proposes apartments; village still pursuing eminent domain,” I was pleased to read what Mayor Ed Fare said that despite the new proposal, he still wants the hearing to go forward. “We want to consider all options,” he said. “The residents of Gibson have suffered enough. We’re trying to consider all factors, make sure no stone is unturned.”
Obviously the owner of the Gibson Boulevard buildings willfully dilapidated the property, so that everyone would think anything would be better, so that most or all would approve of anything else. The Board of Zoning Appeals granted unsafe variances just to suit the owner’s greed of creating a building in excess of the village code of 23 units based upon the amount of the square footage of the property, all the way up to 39 units. Now I read that Peter Florey, of the D&F Development Group,wants to keep the same footprint with some aesthetic changes, and raise the building up one story higher, from three to four. I have lived directly across the street for 59 years. I remember the one-story stores burning down on two different occasions, with flames threatening to destroy the residential homes across the street, and smoke coming through our windows. Being a severe asthmatic with only 30 percent lung capacity, I suffered from living across the street.
I do not want to imagine a gas explosion or fires raging through a massive four-story building now. Also, all of the other apartment buildings in the area, for example on nearby Dubois Avenue, have more than 20-foot front and rear setbacks, which would better protect residential homes. The variances granted by the BZA allow for hardly any setback at all, almost up to the curb, with trees between the building and street, which not only did not make sense, but if actually built according to that footprint, would be very unsafe.
So do we really want a building built according to that unsafe footprint? Village code calls for at least a 25-foot play area for children, but none was ever planned, so we were left to assume that children would be either playing on the railroad tracks, street, or on a second- or third-story balcony, or now a four-story balcony. All of these are valid safety concerns, which is why village code calls for only 23 units for the property’s square footage, which, against objections, the Board of Zoning Appeals granted variances for.
I would prefer to see a much-needed residential and commuter parking lot similar to Valley Stream LIRR station, because this property is up against the Gibson LIRR station.
I ask only that the mayor and village consider safety concerns over greed in whatever replaces the dilapidated stores. Nevertheless, even if I may disagree, I would not oppose, and will go along with, whatever the majority in the community and the village wants and approves.
Alan L. Schaechter