In November 2006 the Manorhaven Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA) met to consider the proposed development for the property commonly referred to as "Thypin Steel" at the tip of Manhasset Isle. The current plans call for the construction of a gated community comprising 96 units of residential "cluster" housing on the approximately 11-acre waterfront site.
According to the Manorhaven Village Clerk Ronnie Shatzkamer, the BZA asked the developer, Island Estates Management of Ronkonkoma, to reduce the number of units and add more greenery. Shatzkamer added, "All necessary approvals from the board of trustees are in place." Len Axinn, spokesperson for Island Estates told the Port News that he was perplexed by the BZA ruling. He said, "We have received approval for 96 units from the village board; I don't understand why the BZA is asking for fewer. They have to decide what the rules are. Whatever the rules are, we will abide by them." Right now, Island Estates is awaiting a determination from the village before they make any modifications to the plans. There is another BZA hearing scheduled for Feb. 13; Axinn said that he expects to have a decision before that date.
Also ongoing is the cleanup and approval process from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). Under the "Brownfields" program, the DEC is working with the Thypin family, the current owners, to clean up the site from industrial pollutants left behind when various industries, including Thypin Steel and Republic Air, were located there. The DEC's concerns are twofold: ground water and soil gas. Many, if not most, of the toxins are airborne, and so affect the ambient air quality. The cleanup requirements also include a plume located 65-feet down, which discharges into Manhasset Bay. A DEC spokesperson described the technologies being used. He said, "A technology called air sparging/soil vapor extraction is being used to remediate volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in shallow groundwater, and ... enhanced reductive dechlorination, is being used to remediate VOCs in deeper groundwater." He declined to estimate a time by when the cleanup might be complete. He said, "It has been our experience that remediation timeframes vary from site to site due to a variety of factors....Completion of the project will be dictated by meeting the remedial goals prescribed in the remedial action plan."
The DEC spokesman said that the New York State and Nassau County Departments of Health (NYSDOH and NCDOH) are evaluating the data gathered at the site and are monitoring the effectiveness of the remediation. He stated that the final determination as to the levels of contaminants that are acceptable for safe occupancy will be made by the NYSDOH.
A number of local environmental organizations are very concerned about the toxicity of the site, including Grassroots Environmental Education and Residents for a More Beautiful Port Washington. Patti Wood, founder and executive director of Grassroots and chair of a committee of the Residents Board of Directors that is monitoring the site cleanup, said, "We are continuing to keep an eye on this. I believe that to clean this up will take a very long time." She pointed out that PCEs (the chemicals on this site) are highly volatile. This means, for one thing, that readings can change over time. She asked, "What happens if we get a 'safe' reading, and then after construction get another reading at a dangerous level?" Wood added that this property is part of a larger problem in New York State. She said, "New York State has the highest allowable level of PCEs; more than any other state. We are going to put pressure on the new commissioner of health to make the standards a lot closer to what other states have and to what the EPA [federal Environmental Protection Administration] is recommending."
If and when the BZA approves the plans, they will then go to the architectural review board for overall aesthetics. This development plan has been in the works for a number of years, and it appears as if it will be some time before any construction is seen at this site.