Law stirs controversy at East Rockaway village board meeting


Richard Ruggiano stood before the East Rockaway board of trustees on Oct. 16 at a public hearing to extend a ban on subdividing houses, and blamed the edict for his inability to sell his parents house on Centre Avenue.

“Your moratorium is preventing me from doing anything with that property,” he said.

At the meeting, the board held a hearing to determine whether to extend the moratorium by six months while the village determines the impact of tearing down older houses on oversized lots within the village, according to Mayor Bruno Romano. “The study will examine the potential increase in traffic, increase in sewage [and an] increase in electricity,” Village Trustee Gordon Fox said at the meeting. “What’s the infrastructure that we would have to put in?”

Ruggiano, a Connecticut resident who is originally from East Rockaway, claimed that the village’s and school district’s taxes are too exorbitant for prospective buyers, so they would have to divide larger lots into smaller ones to spread the tax burden. “No individual can afford the property as it is,” Ruggiano said.

He added that after three years of trying, there was one person interested in buying his parents’ 32,000-square-foot house, but the moratorium prevented the sale from being approved because the prospective buyer wanted to divide the property into three smaller properties.

“He had his architects, his developers, his surveyors come in and they did all of the work, and a month later the moratorium came in and said he can’t buy the property,” Ruggiano said.

Other village officials said that Ruggiano should be able to sell the house without dividing the property into three smaller houses. “We don’t have many houses for sale in East Rockaway and when they do go for sale, they sell right away,” Romano said.

Ruggiano said his parents’ house would not sell for the current asking price of $740,000, however, because it is too large and the buyer would have to pay too much in taxes. But Trustee Theresa Gaffney disagreed. “There are people who would pay that,” she said.

In the end, the board of trustees voted unanimously to extend the moratorium by another six months.