The Oyster Bay Town Board unanimously voted on Tuesday, Oct. 18, to put in place a proposed six-month residential moratorium on the issuance of building permits for the construction of new and expanded buildings; demolition permits for buildings; subdivision approvals; and variances related to lot area, lot dimensions or setbacks for new buildings in the residential areas of Oyster Bay hamlet. The hearing on the moratorium was held on Sept. 27. The town has sent the local law to Albany for review and approval, which is expected shortly, said a town spokesperson.
The board said the moratorium is necessary in order to preserve the character of the area and that time is needed for the town to carefully study and consider any recommendations determined to be appropriate to that end.
Kathy Prinz, one of the co-founders of Save the Jewel by the Bay (SJBB) said of the moratorium vote, "The important thing is that this passed. We are doing 'the dance of joy' and are rolling up our sleeves to do more work."
Rita Pecora, of SJBB said, "I'm very happy but I'm very concerned. The co-founders of SJBB [Ms. Pecora, Kathy Prinz and Ben Jankowski] are going to continue and more importantly to let ourselves be available to town hall to assist in any way that we can in educating the public. We want to come up with a plan that we can implement that is 'The People's Choice'. There are many resources available. We don't have to reinvent the wheel. There are many experts available to help us."
She said, "We want to preserve this historic hamlet in ways that will be beneficial to all. It is our hope to offer workshops to the community that will bring everyone's knowledge and understanding of the avenues open to us, be it landmarking, creating historic districts, using preservation deed restrictions or by becoming a historic overlay district ."
In proposing the moratorium on Sept. 27, David Portman of Fredric P. Clark Associates, the town's planners suggested the town "grandfather in" four properties already involved in the building process.
Ms. Pecora said one of the four is already taken out of the mix. She said, "15 Singworth St. was nixed by the Nassau County Planning Commission (NCPC). They didn't grant the waiver for the subdivision. The Singworth property goes back at a right angle onto Berry Hill Road. On Aug. 4 they received ZBA approval to build a house on the back lot with only a 44 ft. frontage on Berry Hill Road. It was way out of proportion in the ratio of lot to house. Because of what was happening in Oyster Bay, with the proposed moratorium, there was a stay of hearing until after the Sept. 27 hearing. The neighbors were active in having petitions signed and attended the hearing on Oct. 13 at the NCPC where they refused to grant the waiver for the subdivision, so they have to start all over again."
There are still three houses in the pipe line that have been exempted by the board from the moratorium: Section 27, Block K, Lot 670 on Singworth Street; Section 27, Block 4, Lots 48-52 on Park Avenue, south of Berry Hill Road; Section 27, Block 59, Lots 29 and 30 on Summers Street.
Ms. Pecora explained that the first house lot being exempted from the moratorium on Singworth Street had a red ranch house on it that has been demolished. There are now two foundations in place on the site. The lots have 75 ft. frontage each, and are a done deal, she said.
The lot on Summers Street had one house that has been demolished and is expected to become one or two houses. Ms. Pecora said, "The understanding is that the builder has approval for two houses and at this time he is deciding if he will build two houses with 50 ft. frontage each, or build one house."
The third house that was exempted is on Park Avenue. The original building was a legal two-family house that is being converted to a one-family house. They plan to build another single family house on the rest of the newly created lot. "From a density point of view, you are upping the density. You have two single family houses where there was one," said Ms. Pecora.
The moratorium does not mention a tree ordinance, which was another problem for SJBB proponents.
At the Sept. 27 meeting Oyster Bay Town Supervisor John Venditto said, "Developers have the financial resources to fight a moratorium as well as the ability to look at it creatively and find loopholes in the law." The town has six months to look into what is needed to achieve their aims of preserving the quality of life in the residential areas of the hamlet.