Grass or gravel?

Lynbrook villagers debate what would remain in three homes are demolished


A hotel owner’s request to rezone three properties in order to demolish the homes and build a hotel parking lot was denied by the Village of Lynbrook last September, but the homes might not be standing much longer.

On July 8, Thomas Morash, the owner of the Holiday Inn Express and the Rockville Centre Inn on Sunrise Highway — as well as the three vacant properties in question, 417 Ocean Ave., 3 Merton Ave. and 9 Merton Ave. — applied for demolition permits from the village of Lynbrook for each of the homes.

The Village Board of Trustees heard from Morash’s attorney, Albert D’Agostino, at Monday night’s meeting. According to Village Attorney Peter Ledwith, Morash is entitled to the permits to demolish the homes, but the board can determine what the land will look like once they are taken down because the State Environmental Quality Review Act, known as SEQR, requires all state and local government agencies to consider environmental impacts equally with social and economic factors during discretionary decision-making.“It comes down to what’s aesthetically appealing to the board,” Ledwith said.

D’Agostino, who said he has never heard of a board telling a property owner what the property should look like if it conforms to code, explained that his client intends to demolish the homes, put in a dry well to manage storm water and cover the properties with pea gravel. “If there’s grass, you’re going to be getting calls from your building inspector who’s going to be getting calls from people measuring grass and weeds,” D’Agostino told the board. “What we’re trying to do is obviate that.”

The board objected to the pea gravel and insisted on grass. “It would be the right thing to do to put grass there,” said Mayor Bill Hendrick. “And per our SEQR, we have a right to say what’s acceptable.”

“You’re trying to control what vacant land looks like,” D’Agostino said. “Obviously for the satisfaction of the people across the street, to the detriment of my client.”

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