Written by Rich Forestano Wednesday, 25 June 2014 00:00
The Village of Mineola recently passed a local law limiting driveways to 25 percent of the front yard of residential properties. According to the law, there can only be one driveway per residence and it prohibits the construction of circular driveways.
Circular driveways prior to the law’s adoption are legal. Driveways on the side or at the back of houses are also exempt because they cannot be easily seen from the street, officials said.
“We’re looking to preserve the residential character of the village,” Mayor Scott Strauss said. “I don’t think anyone wants to turn our community into a village of parking lots on front lawns.”
Deputy Mayor Paul Pereira feels this will clear the air with residents and limit confusion as to what’s legal or not.
“There are situations, prior [illegal driveways] and...who knows when or how they came to be, but I think the residents, more than anything want to know where they stand,” Pereira said. “I think this limits confusion and tension between residents and neighbors.”
According to village legal counsel John Gibbons, residents could still apply for a variance to construct a circular driveway or add space.
“A resident can always ask for a variance from the zoning code,” he said.
Concerning corner properties that have more land, the building inspector would determine where the address actually begins, but Gibbons said it’s usually measured from the front door of a home.
“If you have a unique property that only lends itself to a circular driveway, then you’d ask relief from the zoning code,” Gibbons stated.
Concerning current driveways that violate the 25 percent rule, village reps said all necessary paperwork must be on file prior to the adoption of the law to establish legality.
“It has to be a legal non-conforming use, meaning before the enactment of this law, [a resident] did all which was necessary to legally establish that driveway,” Gibbon said. “To do that, they would have had to get a curb cut, file a permit with the building department. If they did all that, they can maintain it. A legal situation does not become illegal.”