Some interesting and divergent points of view dealing with land use, and business interests vis-a-vis residential concerns, were raised at a recent public hearing of the Village of Manorhaven's Board of Trustees. The board listened to the request made by Sagamore Properties, LLC, which is seeking to rezone a parcel of property at 30 Sagamore Hill Road, in the Manhasset Isle portion of Manorhaven, from Industrial 2 to Industrial 3. This represents a more intensive industrial use of the property than currently exists. The building and site in question currently has two zonings, an I-2 and I-3, in relatively equal proportions. Representatives from Sagamore Industries say they plan to use the existing building.
The I-2 zoning allows the following uses: laboratories and related spaces for technological research; computer technologies; aeronautical, nautical and other research; indoor participant sport uses. I-3 zoning permits the following: assembly plants of electronic, wood and small parts, with trucking limited to five tons per truck; carpentry and woodworking facilities; auto, truck and vehicle parts, repair and body work, with a special use permit from the Board of Zoning and Appeals, excluding dismantling and parts storage and sales; mail order facilities and indoor participation sport uses.
The major tenant for the site will be Dejana Industries, a service provider for street sweeping and snow removal at airports in ten states and nine major airports, in addition to collecting municipal solid waste. (The address for Sagamore Properties is 138 Shore Road, Manorhaven, which is also the address for another Dejana Industries' facility.)
Commenting on his plans for the building, Peter Dejana reported that he's planning to refurbish and/or make extensive repairs to snow and street sweeping equipment, in addition to constructing eight units per year of specialized snow melting machines. (He anticipates that about 26 trucks will be refurbished annually.) His plans also include making the Sagamore site his national headquarters.
He stressed that all other operations will continue on Shore Road. This includes the dispatching of equipment that is required to service customers, and the equipments routine maintenance.
In terms of the proposal's impact on traffic , Mr. Dejana said, "It will be insignificant." Explaining, he said, "A daily Fed-Ex delivery will be made." He noted, however, this is not an additional truck, just the same one that has been servicing his Shore Road facility (and the rest of that section of the peninsula) in the past.
Representatives for Sagamore Properties, LLC, argued that the previous use of the property, an import/export business that reportedly drew 8-10 tractor trailers per day onto Manhasset Isle, had brought more traffic into the area than Dejana's intended use would.
Addressing the parking issues at the Sagamore site, Mr. Dejana said that there will be no on-street employee parking because the site has adequate parking. Regarding the concerns about commercial parking, he said he will observe the law that prohibits this on residential streets.
He noted too that no regular maintenance of regularly used vehicles will be performed at Sagamore. This work will remain at his Shore Road facility.
Mr. Dejana commented that he takes offense at claims that Dejana Industries is turning Manorhaven into a garbage capital. He stressed that no garbage trucks will be stored or dispatched from Sagamore Road.
He also wanted to reiterate the fact that he is no longer in the business of landscape spraying. "We got out of that business about four years ago," he told the Port News. Therefore, no pesticides, herbicides or fungicides will be stored at either of his locations.
Pointing out the benefits of allowing mixed zonings in an area, Mr. Dejana said, in a phone interview, that his company pays $240,000 in taxes. He calculates that this is the equivalent of 45 residences. He noted that these residences would be using natural resources and cleaning products, in addition to driving vehicles. Most importantly, they would most likely be adding to the swelling student enrollment in the public schools, while the businesses do not.
Some residents supported the rezoning, including a woman from another section of Manorhaven, Tracy Philips. She feels that to have two different zonings on one site is "illogical." She added that an alternate plan could be proposed, that "could be bad for the community.
Furthermore, she declared that it's "un-American to deter a business person from their ability to make more money," and argued that industry brings tax monies to the village, creates jobs and improves the local economy.
She's also disturbed by the vacant commercial buildings, calling them a "potential hazard," and "an invitation to crime." She pointed out too that they're not maintained on a daily basis.
Doug Schlaefer also spoke in favor of the proposed rezoning, invoking free enterprise arguments. Citing the many retail and industrial properties in the village, he stated that Manorhaven has always supported free enterprise, especially in the Manhasset Isle sector. He noted, too, that the many two-family homes in Manorhaven are essentially businesses. To deny the interests of business, in his view, "goes against the founding fathers of Manorhaven."
However, others who attended the public hearing, primarily from the residential section of Manorhaven, voiced strong opposition to the request for rezoning.
Wayne Edwards, the attorney for the contract vendee for the Thypin Steel property, which currently has an application to develop the 11 acre site into approximately 90 residential units, raised several objections to the rezoning.
Mr. Edwards fears that the noise created by welding, riveting and power wrenches would be offensive to the current and future residents. Moreover, Mr. Dejana could conceivably expand his hours of business on the site from two shifts operating from 6 a.m. to 11:30 p.m., to three shifts working round the clock.
Mr. Edwards also asked the traffic expert for Sagamore Properties, LLC, Mr. Eschbacher, if he had considered the additional traffic that would be generated from the anticipated development of the Thypin property.
He's also concerned about trucks backing into the loading zone and blocking traffic.
And even though Mr. Dejana says that he will be producing only eight snow melting machines per year, Mr. Edwards fears what will happen if demand for this product increases. "How many will then be produced each year?," he asked.
Finally, he questioned why the board was considering this rezoning, in light of the fact that the Thypin Steel property, which is across the street from 30 Sagamore, had been rezoned to prevent an industrial use of it.
Resident Laura Costa declared that the request for rezoning is a "step backwards." She pointed out that if granted, it would be against the Local Waterfront Revitalization Plan (LWRP). This plan eliminated all industrial zoning in the village, but allowed existing industrial uses, many of which are non-conforming, to remain, but not to be passed on with the sale of the property. (The LWRP calls for marine related uses for the area.) Mrs. Costa reminded the current board that even though it had not conceived of, or developed the LWRP, it still had passed pieces of enabling legislation for the LWRP.
Bruce Migatz, a resident of, and legal representative for, Tom's Point Coops on Manhasset Isle, feels that a legal issue may be involved later on if the board of trustees doesn't respect the intent of the LWRP. A legal conflict can result from a board decision that's been made but goes against a municipality's approved or adopted current plans and goals. Mr. Migatz also noted that as far back as 1986, former Mayor Arlene Musselwhite and her board , who preceded Gary Pagano-architect of the LWRP, created a zoning master plan that prohibited I-3 zoning that would abut residences.
Mr. Migatz also questioned whether Dejana Industries could assemble or manufacture vehicles even with a conditional use permit, which would by law have to be granted by the Board of Zoning and Appeals. He explained that the I-3 zone with a conditional use permit only allowed for motor vehicle repair.
He also indicated that the board of trustees had not followed the correct procedures. It had not complied with the state environmental quality review assessment (SEQRA) because it had not made a determination of environmental significance which should have been made prior to hearing the application.
In addition, Mr. Migatz told the Port News, the applicants went before the BZA before being granted the rezoning from the board of trustees. Basically, the zoning board did not have the authority to hear the application because the change of zone had not yet been obtained from the board of trustees, and the building department has to issue variances based on the existing zoning.
Mr. Migatz also urged the board and its attorney to consider the fact that the rezoning of this one parcel might be considered spot zoning, which is illegal.
Expressing some of the residential sector's point of view, Mrs. Costa said, "It is ironic that the rest of Port Washington is preserving the land and its greatest asset, the water." She pointed out that Port North held a public meeting about the best possible uses for four parcels of non-residential property within the village, while Manorhaven is being "sold to the highest bidder."
Fears about setting zoning precedents for other commercial property owners in Manorhaven were also expressed by Mrs. Costa and others. (It's interesting to note that the representiaves from Sagamore Properties argued that the board should grant the request because of the long established history of, and precedents already set, in Manorhaven in relation to mixed zoning..
Rudy Santo commented, "Once it's zoned, is there anything to prevent Dejana Industries from expanding its current operation into the new location. "Why didn't he buy something already zoned for a heavier industrial use?"
A Manhasset Isle resident commented, "He knew what he was buying when he purchased the property; and, like Mr. Santo, asked, why didn't he buy a piece of property somewhere else, already zoned for his intended use?
Mrs. Costa also pointed out that the property is 800 feet from the water and has concerns about the chemicals used by Dejana Industries and runoffs of oil, cleaners, etc. that would go into the bay.
Maureen Tobin also spoke about protecting the water table. Her fears seem to remain, however, despite Mr. Dejana's assurances that he would comply with all regulations.
Arguing that the move to Sagamore Road will improve the environment, Mr. Dejana pointed out that the work intended for the new site is currently being performed at his offices at 138 Shore Road, "only outdoors." He feels that by moving this type of work indoors, he'll have better control over the procedures.
Concerned about toxic chemicals, Rita Santelli expressed fear that the facility may use some and somehow it might get into the aquifer.
Mr. Dejana replied that while he does use chemicals, they're not toxic. He compared them to household cleaners. He explained that the cleaning materials he uses are recycled and collected in containers and then picked up by a service provider. "They do not go into catch basins or sewers," he declared. He said that the board should ignore the assertions that he's using toxic substances. He denied that runoff from his vehicles find itsway into the aquifer.
Another resident of Manhasset Isle, Ms. Vulcan, adamantly stated that if the board rezones the property, it is an "injustice to the residents of Manhasset Isle." She fears that the heavier industrial use will "generate even more industrial traffic." "She asked, "How does it (the rezoning) benefit the resident?"
The hearing outraged some residents for another reason. After allowing the applicants almost an hour to give their presentation to the board, Mayor Jim Tomlinson attempted to limit the public commentary portion of the public hearing to less than a half hour. He told those residents who would not have been able to address the board, or those residents who attended the public hearing, directly, that the board would accept their comments in writing. The mayor changed his mind, however, after the audience let him know how offensive they found his request.
The board of trustees left the public record open for residents who wished to comment on the request. The board did not indicate when they expect to reach a decision.
Since the public hearing, a group of Manhasset Isle residents has sent around a flier that lists their objections to and concerns about the proposed rezoning. These include:
1- It will increase traffic, mostly from heavy trucks, which will beat up our roads, cause noise, and pollution.
2- The safety of the residents, especially children and the elderly, will be severely compromised since most of this area does not have sidewalks.
3- This assembly plant abuts residential property. The village decided long ago that it was not appropriate for I-3 zoning to abut residential properties. Allowing this downzoning would set a precedent for future requests from other property owners.
4- Property values in our neighborhood would be adversely affected. Who would want to buy a house next to a heavy truck facility?
5- If downzoning is granted, the owners of the Thypin property may rethink its use.
The flier asks residents to attend the Board of Trustees meeting on Wednesday, Feb. 23, and the Board of Zoning and Appeals meeting on Tuesday, March 14. '''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''