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Letter to the Oceanside/Island Park Editor

Posted

Developer of OJC project faces uphill battle with residents, zoning

To the Editor:

I am writing in response to the Herald article, “Oceanside, Island Park officials outline goals for 2020” (Jan. 2-8). My response is limited solely to the portion of the article concerning the potential new development at the site of the Oceanside Jewish Center.

First, the article correctly mentions that more than 100 residents met in October at the Knights of Columbus to discuss the issue. However, since that date, a private Facebook group has been organized with the sole purpose of defeating any rezone at OJC. As of this writing, there are 1,244 members in the group, which is growing rapidly. There are lawn signs all over the Oceanside area and another 350 have been ordered. 

The article read that Charles Weinraub, a real estate investor, and Mandalay Holdings, the company he plans to work with, will build one of five developments: a 120-unit apartment building, a 120-unit senior housing complex, an assisted-living facility, storage units or a medical office.

A reader of the above could draw only one conclusion — that Weinraub simply needs to choose between one of his five aforementioned proposed plans and then he can proceed forward.  However, that is absolutely not the case. As of today, Weinraub currently has no right whatsoever to proceed with any of the five plans.     The current zoning for OJC is residential — meaning that only one family houses can be built there. Weinraub cannot simply build what he chooses.

To build any of the five proposals, Weinraub would have to change the zoning from residential to commercial or golden age. This would require an application to the Hempstead Town Board, followed by a hearing. Residents within a certain proximity to the OJC will have an opportunity to oppose the application and present evidence.  These residents will have the complete backing and support of the members in our group. The matter would ultimately be decided by the board and will be fought vigorously by the “humble residents of this hamlet.”   

In the unlikely event that Weinraub is successful and the board votes in favor of changing the zoning at the OJC, two of the proposals mentioned, 120-unit senior housing and 120-unit multi-family development, would also require that Weinraub then file for a variance with town’s Building Department — yet another hearing which would be opposed by the local residents.

For the golden age district, Section 131 of said zoning regulations permits 30 dwellings per acre. Assuming 2.5 acres is being used, this would result in 75 dwellings — not the 120 units Weinraub lists as his option. In order to build 120 units, Weinraub  would then have to file an application for a variance to construct the additional units and the local residents would again have a full opportunity to oppose the application. This will require two hearings for projects that are vigorously opposed.

Weinraub’s other proposal to construct a 120-unit building would similarly result in two hearings to change zoning and receive a variance.

In most cases, the developer has an advantage over the homeowners due to greater resources. However, in this instance, I believe it is the developer that is at a disadvantage.

 

Marc H. Weissman, Oceanside