The village board has scheduled a public hearing on Nov. 27 to review a developer’s proposal for a 28-unit apartment complex at the corner of Wallace Court and Payan Avenue and to collect input from the public, though some residents who live nearby made their views clear at last week’s board meeting.
“I think they’ve known all along what they’ve wanted to do there,” said Wallace Court resident Michael Fucello in a phone interview. “I don’t mind apartment buildings here and there, but it’s the wrong block for it. Not just because it’s my block.”
The village board of trustees voted to change the lot’s zoning in April to allow for a commercial parking expansion — a change from RA to CX zoning. The Nov. 27 hearing will include discussion of a second possible zone change — from CX to CA, or parcels with multiple-family townhouses, condominiums, cooperatives and apartments — as well as Cedarhurst-based Paramount Construction’s proposal for the apartment complex, called the Parkside. Attorney Dominick Minerva, of Minerva & D’Agostino PC, is representing Paramount.
Some neighboring residents said they were irked that they had not heard about the proposal before Gibson resident Mike Belfiore, who served a single term on the village board in the 1990s, notified them. The zoning code does not allow for a change from RA to CA, Belfiore said, which he believes is proof that the code is being circumvented to appease the developer, and that the zoning of the property was not intended to accommodate high-density apartments.
“I live nearby, but I did not hear or know of anything,” said Salahuddin Ahmed, who moved to Wallace Court from Brooklyn in 2013. “ … Mike was raising discussion, and we supported him from the very beginning.”
Mayor Ed Fare rejected the claim that this case was an example of spot zoning, or at odds with the village’s master plan and current zoning restrictions. He said that the April zone change was approved so the village could schedule a public hearing, and is not an indication that the board already has an opinion on the project.
“Spot zoning is like if we decided to bulldoze four houses and put up an apartment building,” Fare said. “Not the case.” The Wallace Court parcel abuts commercial property, he said, and is near two other apartment complexes — Charles J. Monica Senior Village and Ballard Avenue apartments.
Fare said the board needs to vet proposals from developers before they warrant a public hearing. “You’re not going to have a public hearing on some clown who comes in with a diagram on a cocktail napkin,” he said.
“The board even mentioned Monday night that we’re not even sure how much we love or hate this project,” he added. “We’re not. You know what we need? We need public input.”
Fare said, however, that the board is unapologetically “pro-development.” He disputed claims that the village was becoming overdeveloped, alluding to hundreds of rental units built in Mineola “in one fell swoop,” as opposed to the 201 units — three apartment complexes, and not including the unfinished, 36-unit Promenade on North Central Avenue — that the village has added over the last decade.
Developers showing interest in Valley Stream
Construction of the Promenade — the only unfinished apartment project in the village — began over the summer, and Fare said that the village’s progress has developers interested.
Last December, the board authorized an appraisal for Parking Field No. 8 and 8A, which border the Village Green at Hicks Street, after developers expressed interest in purchasing and developing the land. Mineola-based Michael Haberman Associates is doing the appraisal. Fare declined to describe proposals or name prospective buyers.
“Developers are interested, and before we even talk to developers we want to know what it’s worth,” he said of the parking lot.
Additionally, the board of trustees voted in February to authorize a request for developer proposals for a section of land just south of Sun Valley Towers, at 4th Street.
A request for proposals, or RFP, is a document announcing that a plot of land is available for development. It outlines the contract terms and provides guidance on how the proposal should be formatted. The board authorized the expenditure of $6,000 to pay Sahn Ward Coschignano & Baker PLLC, of Uniondale, to draft the document, which has not yet been published.
The public hearing for the Parkside apartments on Wallace Court is scheduled for Monday, Nov. 27, at 7 p.m. at Village Hall.