Trustees unanimously approved the engagement of planner Frank Fish of Buckhurst Fish and Jacquemart (BFJ) to take a closer look at how subdivisions of large village land plots could negatively affect Garden City's character and whether or not it's worth trustees putting in place a moratorium.
"Logical, necessary steps must be taken before this village can put in place a moratorium," Deputy Mayor Tom Lamberti said, adding that he suspects it will take approximately two months for Fish to research the issue and develop a series of proposals to bring back to the board. "This is an important resolution to get us to the goal we hope to achieve."
Lamberti argued that before any moratorium be put in place, all plots capable of subdivision under current zoning must first be identified; a planner engaged to determine what steps could be taken to prevent this from happening; and an opinion of counsel sought to ensure such steps are appropriate.
If the board agrees to put a moratorium in place, it would likely be for a six-month period and would not be limited to the Central section. Trustee John Watras was relieved since the West, the section which he represents, has been affected by subdivisions, namely Fairmont Boulevard.
In the meantime, while Fish is researching the issue, residents can still apply to subdivide their land lots. Trustee Donald Brudie said fellow trustees missed the point. "Get a moratorium as soon as possible and then investigate," he said during the November 2008 discussion. "I think we're going backwards...Get [a moratorium] in effect as soon as possible. It could do a lot of damage in the meantime..."
This issue first came to the board's attention when residents who bought homes in Garden City's historic Central section, which boasts large land plots and many curb-free streets, urged trustees to immediately place a moratorium on pending requests to subdivide two particular properties in the heart of the village, one on Hilton Avenue and the other on Rockaway Avenue.
Steven Irace, who lives on Fourth Street and has called Garden City home for the past 58 years, said allowing any changes to the large plots of land in Central would undoubtedly alter the neighborhood's historic character. He said he moved to the village with his family because Garden City carries with it a "sense of history, tradition and order."
Irace has been primarily concerned with the corner lot at Fourth Street and Rockaway Avenue, which sits next to his Fourth Street home. The application pending with the village's Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA) seeks to subdivide the existing 44,918 square foot premises into two plots of 20,461 square feet and 24,457 square feet respectively. "We're trying to preserve the village as we all know it," Irace pleaded with trustees. "These corner lots were part of the original plan."
Third Street resident Gregory Burke, who's also lived in the village for five decades, too urged trustees to immediately put the moratorium into effect. "As part and parcel in keeping Garden City the way it was, I would ask the board to consider the moratorium on subdividing lots," Burke told trustees.
The second home in question, on Hilton Avenue, seeks to subdivide the existing 56,250 square foot premises into two plots of 31,225 square feet and 25,025 square feet respectively, which on the improved plot would reduce the required 20-foot minimum side yard to not less than 18.68 following the removal of a 322 square foot, two-story portion and covered porch.
As of press time, Garden City Life could not confirm whether or not both requests were still pending with the BZA. The aforementioned plots make up two of approximately 65 that could be subdivided under current village zoning codes.
An inventory of all land plots capable of subdivision has been forwarded to BFJ to aid the firm in its investigation. Village Administrator Robert Schoelle, Jr. expected to have BFJ's report in the mayor's hands by the Dec. 18 meeting but it wasn't ready.