The owners of 550 Stewart Avenue are pleading with Garden City trustees to make a decision on the application now before them - the erection of 31 townhouse units on the northern side of Stewart Avenue.
Kevin Walsh, who represents the property's owners, 550 Stewart Avenue, LLC, told Garden City Life that his client is not willing to take the project elsewhere because Garden City is where he wants to build.
His client does, however, want trustees to act.
Last spring, the board approved the necessary zoning change from commercial to residential to allow townhouses in that zone. Walsh's client formally requested the zoning change back in 2004 and is still waiting for the board's decision.
The village's Planning Commission has actually recommended that the property owners acquire the "green belt" buffer strip that separates the undeveloped property and Raymond Court to widen the roadway.
Building Superintendent Mike Filippon explained that the acquired land would resolve FAR (Floor Area Ratio) issues. "The additional land could leave garages at ground level," Filippon noted.
Further, the acquired land would not only enable 550 Stewart Avenue, LLC, to build two more townhouse units (bringing it to a total of 31 units compared to 29) but would also afford the owner more room for additional parking.
When several Raymond Court residents, however, got wind of this possibility, they were not happy. One Raymond Court resident, who sent a letter to Village Administrator Robert Schoelle in October, spoke on behalf of his family and numerous fellow residents, stating they "adamantly object" to any sale of the village's greenspace.
"Though the residents in the past have supported the re-zoning of 550 Stewart Avenue from commercial to residential this was based on the promises and assurances from Kevin Walsh and their development team that they were not going to purchase the 'greenspace' and they would have an additional setback on their side of the fence ... If the residents thought that the developers would eventually purchase the 'greenspace' and take away the village's public land, they would never have been supportive of the re-zoning of the property," the Raymond Court resident said.
Walsh, however, told trustees at the Dec. 6 village board meeting that he had since met with nine Raymond Court residents bordering the greenbelt, who have signed a petition urging trustees to move forward.
Walsh's client is now offering $200,000 for the greenspace buffer strip and is willing to pay $100,000 for each additional townhouse unit, deeding 20 feet to each resident. The developer and the residents both understand that neither could develop the strip of land; just a fence/wall of pine trees would remain intact.
"No one in this village knows it existed and it doesn't serve a public use," Walsh said. "We are asking you to decide quickly. The developer has been as patient as any other developer."
Walsh said his client could possibly break ground in the fall but until the board decides one way or another, 550 Stewart Avenue, LLC, doesn't know what is being built because it doesn't know how much property it has to work with.