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Village of Port North Mayor Tom Pellegrino updated the status of the possible redevelopment of the Lewis Oil Co. site into a shopping center, and the development of Dallas Realty's 41 acres into senior housing, at the village board of trustees meeting on July 13.

He advised that at an informal meeting, Sandy Hollow Associates, the group interested in developing the senior housing, indicated to the board that it is contemplating building a senior citizen gated community on the 41 acres, which would require a rezoning of the property from Economic Development "A" (industrial) to Golden Age Zone. As part of the development, they would also build a clubhouse with amenities, a swimming pool and tennis courts. The clubhouse would be open to all seniors residing in Port Washington North.

The meeting ended with the developers saying that they would contact the village once their plans were finalized.

At another informal meeting, principals of the Lewis Oil Co. asked the Board of Trustees to consider the rezoning of their property on Shore Road, from Economic Development "A" to "'Business," in order to permit them to build a shopping center on the site.

Currently, the board is awaiting word from Lewis Oil as to whether they will pursue their request for a rezoning of their property.

Continuing, the mayor informed the meeting that in the event that a formal application is received for a public hearing, all residents of the village, all businesses within the village and all surrounding municipal jurisdictions will be notified as to the date, time and place of the hearing. The village will also run an advertisement in the Port Washington News giving the date, time and location. The Sousa Auditorium or the Polish-American Hall will probably be rented for the hearing.

Mayor Pellegrino noted that all of this information and more is in the summer village newsletter.

In other business, the board of trustees voted to approve a building zone ordinance, Bill 3 of 1998, regulating the parking, storage, repair and washing of commercial vehicles within or adjacent to residential property. Specifically, the local law states that no commercial vehicle can be stored or parked, serviced at any time or washed or otherwise cleaned at any time on any property which is zoned or used for residential purposes.

Also at the meeting, Susan Bagnani of the newly formed group Save the Guggenheim Nature Trails and Eleanor Rybecki from the Terrace Civic Association appealed to the board of trustees to support the opening of the Salem School, as the way to accommodate the anticipated increase in school enrollment and the overall facilities update. They want residents to reject any of the school board options that include using 17 acres on the Guggenheim property for a new high school/or middle school.

Ms. Rybecki explained that in addition to the access problems to the site, many are concerned about the high cost of constructing a new school on the site, which ranges from $30-$60 million.

When the business portion of the meeting ended, an angry but contained mayor Pellegrino informed all present that he had heard a rumor about himself, allegedly spoken by a resident who regularly attends the village board meetings, in connection to the proposed senior housing complex on the 41 acres. The individual spreading the rumor says that the mayor will be receiving a free senior housing unit or get a discount on one, if he pushes the project through.

The Mayor said that the person who started this rumor is "in for a rude awakening." He stated that he's hired a lawyer, one who specializes in slander. He added, "If Scotto (the owner of the 41 acres) found out, he would also initiate a lawsuit for slander.

Trustee Ross Altman then reported that his neighbor told him that someone who regularly attends the village board meetings is going around telling people that the proposal for the homes on the 41 acres is for "low income housing." He said, "This is an out and out lie. Something being said to arouse people...Telling people you better come out and be heard because they're going to build low income housing is just a stupid lie."

Resident Janet Orloff said that perhaps the person spreading the rumor meant that the homes were low priced for Port North real estate. Trustee Altman replied that there's a big difference between categorizing the homes as "moderately priced" in a senior citizen community and saying that they're "low income housing."

Trustee Gary Levi warned that all has "to be above board." He said, "The potential for negative comments that the mayor alluded to are 'disgraceful' and 'disgusting.'" He reminded the audience that "negative comments, innuendos and direct slurs demean the entire community."

Resident Hank Ratner commented that "It's despicable for anyone to go around saying that the mayor will get a house for free." That said, he continued to say that many residents are opposed to housing on the 41 acres. Speaking about the rumors, he said that all types of discussion and rumors will be going on. "It would be naive and unrealistic," not to think this would happen, said Ratner.

A small discussion on housing on the 41 acres took place. In relation to the increased school population, resident Steve Kaplan feels that if moderately priced senior housing was an option in town, senior residents might be enticed to move there, with the negative result of selling their larger homes to young families with school age children, thereby increasing the space needs of the school district.

The next meeting of the board of trustees is Monday, Aug. 10, at 7:30 p.m.

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