Rockville Centre homeowners await court decision on appeal of subdivision denial


After the Rockville Centre Planning Board denied a proposal by James and Brett O’Reilly in November to subdivide their property at 220 Hempstead Ave., the homeowners now await a decision to their appeal by the State Supreme Court in Nassau County.

The O’Reillys filed an Article 78 proceeding — used to appeal the decision of a state or local agency — on Nov. 20 after the board halted their plan on Nov. 15 to split their land into six single-family plots.

The application to demolish the site’s circa 1898 home — St. Mark’s United Methodist Church’s former parsonage — and subdivide the property was opposed by neighbors who were concerned about overdevelopment and dedicated to preserving what they considered a historic house.

Many also challenged the legality of a new street, to be called Killarney Lane, which would be constructed perpendicular to Hempstead Avenue, to allow access to the four homes planned for the rear of the property.

Planning Board member Andrew Cameron made a motion to reject the proposal, citing the character of the village, and the vote carried, 3-1.

The board’s decision “is arbitrary, irrational and is not supported by the substantial evidence in the record and is based upon an error of law,” according to the Nov. 20 petition submitted by attorney Christian Browne, who is representing the O’Reillys.

“The specific ground for denial stated on the record, holding that the subdivision application does not conform to the character of the surrounding neighborhood, is, as a matter of law, improper,” the court document states, “because the subdivision application is entirely compliant with the requirements of the applicable Residence A zoning district.”

Browne added in the petition that the planning board’s denial was “plainly a response to generalized community opposition.”

In a document submitted to the court on Dec. 19, the planning board’s acting chairman, Thomas Gallucci, noted a portion of the village code upon which the board based its denial — “compatibility with the proposed development of the site and to existing buildings in the adjoining area.”

In a Dec. 20 letter to Judge Jack L. Libert, Browne noted that due to village law, “this matter is entitled to a preference over all other pending civil matters,” requesting that it be decided “expeditiously.”

He told the Herald that he hopes to have a decision this month. In the meantime, he said, “the O’Reillys continue to work with their engineer and with Nassau County to refine the plans in order to achieve final approval.”