As Village of Massapequa Park officials continue to focus on preserving and improving the look of the local business district, the municipality has scheduled a public hearing within Monday night's board meeting that will consider a building moratorium.
The public hearing, which will be held during the regular board of trustees meeting on Oct. 16, regards a proposed building moratorium in the village's business zones. Mayor Camillo Giannattasio, in a recent interview, noted that the board is considering passing a moratorium that would temporarily prohibit demolition or construction of buildings while officials work on drafting a master plan for the municipality.
"We're going to probably pass moratorium in our business zones for six months or a year," said Giannattassio, noting that the proposed duration of the moratorium had yet to be determined. "We really don't have a master plan with reference to construction in the business zoning. And people are now starting to buy old buildings on Sunrise Highway, and knock them down."
Giannattassio noted that the village wants to prevent this practice, because, in addition to knocking the buildings off the tax rolls, it also removes a barrier to Sunrise Highway that homeowners behind the buildings previously enjoyed.
The moratorium would cover the business zones located on both Sunrise Highway and Park Boulevard in the village. The municipality wants to protect Park Boulevard, in particular, from development that is not harmonious with the look the village is seeking for the central downtown street.
"We're trying to get a master plan for Park Boulevard, because we want to protect the stores that are there. And we're probably going to do something with reference to trying to give our village a more colonial look," said Giannattasio.
"Basically, we don't want anyone coming in and ripping down buildings on Park Blvd. and rebuilding them. Because we're trying to keep our tenants there and keep our tenants healthy."
He added, "Basically, I just want to stop developers from coming in here, and start building what they want to build. Because I realize that this village doesn't really have a master plan for commercial construction, because quite frankly, there never was any. But now all of a sudden, we see a lot of things on Sunrise getting torn down, and we know they're going to build something, but we just don't know what."
By being proactive, village officials hope to have more control over local business development. "I don't want to be reacting to what they're doing," said the mayor. "I want a moratorium in place so I can get some type of a commission to review everything and come up with some guidelines and plans, so we can control what I believe is going to be construction in the GG and the G-Business zone, which is basically Sunrise Highway and Park Boulevard."
The upcoming hearing to consider the building moratorium comes on the heels of a major announcement by the village last week about plans to revitalize the downtown business district, using $1.8 million in state funds. That money will fund improvements in the village's three business districts on Merrick Road, Sunrise Highway and Park Boulevard, as well as an overhaul of the exterior of the Massapequa Park train station. In addition, as part of a commitment to "rebuild Park Boulevard block by block," Mayor Giannattasio said the village will contribute $75,000 this year to spruce up the corner of Park Boulevard and Front Street, and install a turn of the century lollipop clock there. The $75,000 will come from a $3.2 million long-term municipal bond for downtown enhancements. Officials plan to mirror improvements around the village to the colonial look expected for the refurbished train station.
Also scheduled for Monday's meeting is another hearing that will consider a local law to increase the maximum eligibility income level for senior citizen tax exemptions, to $28,900. A third hearing will be held that evening in order to authorize the village administrator to execute a pilot agreement and approve the project plan for the Whitewood Landing senior housing complex, planned for Whitewood Drive, just south of Merrick Road.
The village board meeting will begin at 8 p.m., and will be held in the board room at Village Hall, 151 Front Street.