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  • Writer's pictureMinerva & D'Agostino

Wallace Court Zoning Change OK'd

Trustees listened for more than two hours on May 21 to residents’ concerns about a plan to build 12 townhouses on the corner of Wallace Court and Payan Avenue, and then voted unanimously to approve a zoning change that would pave the way for the townhouses.

The vote changed the zoning of the lot at 1 Wallace Court, from CX to CA, which would allow for the construction of multiple-family townhouses, condominiums, cooperatives and apartments. Cedarhurst-based Paramount Construction petitioned for the change so that it could build housing units. “We were very happy,” Dominick Minerva, the attorney representing Paramount Construction, said of the board’s decision. “We think they made a good decision.”

At a public hearing prior to the vote, Mayor Ed Fare said that the development would increase the village’s population, which has been steadily declining since the 1980s. It would also increase the tax base, according to Barry Nelson, of the Bellmore-based Nelson Realty Group. He said the property, where there is now an abandoned house, is expected to bring in $77,400 in school taxes and $34,800 in village taxes.

Deputy Mayor Vincent Grasso also said the board wanted “whole lifecycle housing,” adding that the proposed townhouses would be suitable for young adults or empty-nesters.

Trustee John Tufarelli said that something needed to be done with the property, which had garbage strewn across the lawn and plywood leaning against the building when development discussions first began in April last year. He said that if the board did not vote for development, residents would ask the board to do something with the property in the future.

“Eventually what happens is you scare away the developer, and it will sit there for another 15 years,” Tufarelli said.

The board’s decision came after Paramount Construction revised its original plan for the site. Under that plan, it would have built a 28-unit apartment complex. But the plan was struck down at a similar public hearing in November.

Under its new proposal, which representatives of Paramount presented to the board in January, the land use would be reduced by more than 30 percent, the townhouses would be set back farther on the property and the residents would have direct access to an internal street to reduce traffic. Paramount also vowed to donate $25,000 to the Valley Stream tree fund to replace any trees that would be cut down during construction. “We think the revised application is a good compromise,” Minerva said.

Mayor Ed Fare agreed, and cited his change of vote in favor of the variance. “The point is, the concessions were made,” he said. “They were reasonable.”

But some residents said at the public hearing that they did not think the plans were reduced enough. “I can’t see that much going in that small space,” Stephanie Darcy. said “I think it still needs to be cut down a little more.”

Others expressed concerns about the potential increase in traffic. Gena Rositano also said at the meeting that the property is still in disarray, and argued that the developer should clean it up. In response, Fare said that the village has issued three summonses, each of which the developer has acted on.

Resident Mike Belfiore asserted that the board was “spot zoning” — the application of zoning to a specific parcel or parcels of land within a larger zoned area. Fare has repeatedly denied the charge. “Spot zoning is like if we decided to bulldoze four houses and put an apartment,” he told the Herald in October. “Not the case.” The Wallace Court property abuts commercial property and is near two other apartment complexes — the Charles J. Monica Senior Village and the Ballard Avenue apartments, Fare said.

David Sabatino was the only resident present to support the proposal. He said he saw it as an improvement. Before the townhouses can be built, Paramount Construction must submit a building application, followed by an application to the Board of Appeals for final site plan approval.

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