Prior to the last village board meeting Kevin Walsh, a lawyer with New Hyde Park Village Attorney John Spellman's office, explained proposed changes in municipal codes regarding Certificates of Occupancy.
One new proposal would state that after six months a certificate of occupancy would become "stale." This means that anyone who came to the New Hyde Park Village office and requested a copy of a certificate of occupancy which had been issued more than six months ago, it would have stamped on it that it is not to be relied on without a further inspection by the building department and a revalidation would be required to ensure that the property use is what it is purported to be.
Walsh said, "It is important to note that it is not required that anyone do anything within the six months, they must just revalidate the certificate. It is only when someone comes in and wants to rely on the certificate that it must be revalidated. Further, the law was presented to the Nassau County Planning Commission and they said they had no position on the change because it was within the jurisdiction of the village to make a change if they so desired."
Former village trustee Florence Lisanti wanted to know if a homeowner selling his house would be responsible for having a new certificate of occupancy issued.
Walsh said that if a resident is selling his home the title company or the owner would go to the village and request the occupancy document and the village would require a fee from the title company or the resident.
No questions were asked of the board so they closed the hearing and moved to adopt the local law.
The second matter addressed was about the property known as the Castro Convertible property, now owned by a storage facility.
Walsh explained, "The property had been rezoned in 1980 from residential use to parking use. In addition, the village trustees requested a declaration of covenants and restrictions that formed a part of the local law which included commitments made by the then owners of the property and the tenants to maintain the property in a certain way. The provision also required that in the event anyone wanted to change the way the property was maintained they must come back to the New Hyde Park Village Board since it is a local law."
Walsh added, "Plus, in my opinion this would have to go to the Nassau County Planning Commission for approval since this would affect Local Law No. 80."
It was established that the residents in the vicinity were all notified, but the lawyer for the property was not at the meeting so Mayor Daniel Petruccio opened the meeting to the residents for comments.
A resident said she had questions and Mayor Petruccio said he would try his best to answer them.
She wanted to know what the new owner planned to do. Mayor Petruccio said it was his understanding that he wanted to modernize the facility and take down the cement wall, which was part of a stadium years ago, in order to improve accessibility. The owner would then provide plantings to replace the wall.
Mayor Petruccio said there had been a preliminary meeting about eight months ago and most of the issues were aired on both sides and he said, "It was the board's feeling at that time that most of the residents were satisfied with the owner's plans."
However, the resident said that was not the case and objected to the owner's plan. She said her property is directly in back of the building and when the 1980 covenant was enacted it was her understanding that the parking lot could only be used for employees and Mayor Petruccio agreed.
The resident said that if the wall were to be taken down the owner could then bring trucks into the area to use the loading dock. She said that she and her neighbors were asking the board to not allow trucks in the parking lot at all.
Mayor Petruccio said, "It is my understanding that under the covenant the owner is not allowed to unload trucks at the location."
Attorney Walsh agreed with the mayor.
The resident said that she did not know why the wall has to come down.
The mayor asked her if shrubbery were not better to look at than a cement blue wall.
The attorney for the facility finally arrived and apologized for being late. He said as far as the opening of the facility, his client preferred to have it for aesthetic purposes on the southside, but if the neighbors prefer to keep the opening where it is presently he said there is no problem.
The lawyer for the facility said, "As far as why I am here, it is because of competition. When my client first turned the Castro property into a storage facility he substantially upgraded the property."
He continued, "The problem is that there are many new storage facilities in the area that are creating tremendous competition for my client. Although you think that people are just coming to store items and that they don't care what the facility looks like, that is not the case. Many of my client's customers are representatives of drug companies that use the facility for storage of samples and they return to the facility fairly frequently. Other clients are lawyers and doctors and they want to come to a place that looks pleasant. Right now the inside is very nice, but the outside looks too industrial."
He said, "One of the reasons to make a permanent living island is to conform to everything that the law states,while stepping up the aesthetics. We will also be able to install a gate to keep people from entering the facility at night, which has been a problem for my client because he has had to clean up the mess that is left. Plus, it will be a better site line for those people who come in and come out. There is no desire to change the use."
Mayor Petruccio questioned the lawyer about the loading dock and whether he planned to change the usage of the dock.
The lawyer answered, "Not at this time. There has always been a loading dock and we just modernized it and it is used only occasionally. When we met with the residents they had a few comments about the lights at night and those lights have been corrected."
He said that his client has asked that certain provisions be put into law which would make sure that the island is permanent in nature. Further, my client will file a contract with a landscaper at the village so that the village will know that the property will always be landscaped. The island he said will lessen the noise. Now, when a simple car door slams, it bounces from wall to wall. He added, "Removing the wall will be beneficial to my client, to his business and to the community and even looking out a second floor window, it will look better for the neighbors."
Mayor Petruccio recapped by saying, "You are not altering the egress and you are just taking the wall down and replacing it with landscaping and you intend to keep the parking just for employees."
The lawyer replied, "We are not changing anything except for aesthetic and safety purposes. By putting the opening further away from the entrance on Jericho Turnpike when employees are pulling out it will be safer. We are not talking about changing the usage at all, not even the slightest. We just want to take down the wall and put up some greenery and let in the light."
Trustee Lawrence Montreuil wanted to know if the lawyer would be willing to impose some restricted covenants regarding the loading dock that would allay the concerns of the residents?
The attorney said that, "I can't do that, there is no other way into the rear of the building but the loading dock and that would render the building unusable. The dock is not being used now."
Mayor Petruccio said, "I'm a little confused, it is my understanding that this convenant states that there is no use of the loading dock, or no use by trucks?"
The owner's lawyer said, "My understanding is that the only restriction is for the parking and for the hours of operation."
The resident wanted to know why the wall was being taken down and it was explained that the wall is in disrepair and that it would be better to take it down. Back in the Castro days on the other side of the wall was a fueling station and the wall, which had been part of a baseball stadium, was retained to hide that station as much as possible.
The lawyer added,"We don't really use trucks and if we could install a ground-height door we would have no problem removing the loading dock."
A few more questions were asked and answered and then the board declared that the hearing would remain open for further comments.
Attorney Walsh said that before passing the new law it must be presented to the Nassau County Planning Commission for comment.
Anyone wishing to still be heard, on the record, regarding the proposed removal of the wall may do so by contacting village hall at 354-0022.