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Representatives from Sandy Hollow Associates and an architect/planner from the firm of C.H.K. Architects and Planners presented a conceptual plan to the Port Washington North Village Board of Trustees last week to develop the 41 acre tract of land owned by Dallas Realty into a senior citizen gated community called Mill Pond Villa at Port Washington North. The board would have to approve a change in zoning for this tract of land from economic development "A" to restricted residential.

The plan calls for 327 senior housing condominimum units, with eight clustered units per acre. The structures are a mix of duplexes and ranches, in addition to a three story building set in the lowest point of the property, thereby creating the least visual impact from outside the premises. One hundred and fifty units will have one-car garages. Affordable condos with approximately 1,200 square feet will be available without garages. None will have basements. "Open space is the predominate theme," in the words of the developer. The conceptual drawing shows six ponds on a well-landscaped site and a large community building with a clubhouse, pool and tennis courts, which the developers say will be open to all senior citizens in Port Washington North. The developers noted that roads within Mill Pond Villa will be plowed and its sidewalks maintained by them. They also stressed that no assisted living or nursing home facilites are included in the plan.

One of the principals of Sandy Hollow Realty, Michael Pontillo, said that one of the key benefits of the project is that it enables local seniors to remain in the community, in a secure gated community that provides maintenance-free living for seniors. If the condos are built, he said, local residents could downsize from three and four bedroom homes, to one and two bedroom homes and still stay in town. The development would also retain the residential character of Port North and help support local retailers, he added.

Another benefit, according to Bob Pascucci, another principal of Sandy Hollow Realty, is that the change in zoning, from economic development "A" to residential is less instrusive on the village, and essentially "upzones" the area. He pointed out that "as of right" 1.8 million square feet could be built tomorrow.

He presented a chart comparing the development impact of the existing economic development district "A" versus the proposed senior citizen residential. It read:

Category Existing Zoning Proposed Senior
Citizen Residential
Building type Office/research Senior residences
Light industrial for independent
warehouse living
Community uses none Clubhouse, pool,
tennis open to
all Port North
Building area 1.8 million sq. ft 562,000 sq. ft.
allowable proposed
Lot coverage 35 percent allowable 17 percent
Building heights 3 stories l and 2 story
courtyard homes;
3 story condo
Total building footprint 623,561 sq. ft. 300,000 sq. ft.
allowable proposed
Parking requirements
Office- 1.0 per 200SF 9,453 spaces 400-homes
Industrial- l.0 per 500SF 3,741 spaces 50- Sr. Center
Warehse- 1.0 per 800SF 2.338 spaces 50- visitors
School impact none none
Traffic impact Heavy peak traffic Minimal traffic
in a.m. and p.m. rush; impact in peak a.m
increased truck and and p.m. rush;
day traffic. light day traffic.
Environmental impact Typical light industrial Minor, if any.
Water consumption 140,000-180,000 gals/ 50,000-60,000
day gals/day
Sewer discharge 140,000-180,000 gals/ 45,000-50,000
day gals/day
At the outset of the meeting, attorney for the developers, Anthony Cincotti, characterized the meeting as an "informal," non-binding one. The developer's goal was to get a sense of the board and community's reaction to the plan to see if it was "compatible and worth pursuing," before investing more time and money, according to the developers.

Trustee Ross Altman asked if Dallas Realty is the developer. Mr. Pascucci noted that his group would be the contract vendees for the development.

He noted that if the board approves the rezoning, the property would increase in value. Because of this, he asked that the developer propose additional ways to make the development more attractive to the community. Mr. Pontillo pointed out that this is not rezoning for "family units," which would definitely increase the value of the property. Instead, the rezoning is for age restricted units, which would be rezoning to a specific P.U.D. (planned unit development). As such, its increased value is debatable. "It won't double or triple the value of the land," Mr. Pascucci said.

Trustee Altman also noted that a group of Port North residents don't want to develop the site in "any way, shape or form." He said he didn't know if they were necessarily in the majority.

Trustee Gary Levi asked, "What is the process?" and "How do we obtain maximum input from everyone?"

Village attorney Steve Limmer replied that for a change of zoning, the village is required to publish a legal notice in the Port News and hold a public hearing. After all of the input from the meeting is analyzed, the village might approve the zoning, might approve it with modifications or reject it.

Input can also be obtained at public hearings pertaining to the environmental impact statement, which, in all likelihood, would be held for a project like the one proposed.

Trustee Bert Goodstadt said the impact on the peninsula must be considered.

He questioned the age restriction, which as currently proposed is that at least one owner must be 55 or older. "People may still be working at that age," he said. "Fifty-five may be on the low side." He asked if the base age restriction could be raised to 62, so as to lessen the impact on traffic during rush hour. Mr. Pontillo said that they could revisit the age minimum.

Mr. Pascucci noted that a shuttle bus will be provided by the development to help mitigate any traffic congestion the new development would add to the community.

Trustee Goodstadt commented that it's beneficial to the community to have this site developed. "Better people there than mosquitoes," he said. Trustee Levi concurred saying," It's better than having the land lying fallow."

Trustee Altman asked, "What if it doesn't sell well? The community needs reassurance."

Mr. Pascucci replied that "We won't build what we don't sell."

Phyliss Reiff commented that the services in the area, especially the hospitals, "can't handle" any more people.

Hank Ratner feels that approval of the development would be a "great disservice" to the community and also voiced concerns over the impact of the soon-to-be developed Morewood site. In his words, the "town is choking." He said that the community would "come out against" the proposal, as they did for the single family homes proposed a while ago. Mr. Pascucci reiterated that these homes are for senior citizens, not families.

Mr. Ratner asked Mr. Scotto, the owner of the property who was present at the meeting, to "donate" the parcel of land to the town.

At the beginning of the meeting, Mr. Ratner also wanted to know when the residents would have the opportunity to comment on the project. He asked why the residents hadn't been informed of this presentation, as the developers want to obtain feedback on the project before they proceed any further. Mayor Pellegrino replied that the developers requested this meeting "a week ago." He also informed Mr. Ratner that the appropriate forum for public commentary is at a public hearing.

Theresa Liberi stated, emphatically, that she "wants senior housing."

Steve Kaplan stated that he's "totally against housing" and in favor of light industrial development on the site. He said that owners of businesses, including landscapers and auto repair shop owners, have spoken to him and indicated an interest in moving their businesses to the site. He noted that this would not bring in additional traffic.

He also concurred with Mr. Ratner, sharing his concern about the potential impact on the town once the Morewood property is developed.

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