A larger-than-expected crowd showed up at the Bryant Library on Monday, Sept. 30 for a meeting designed to discuss possible zoning changes in the Village of Roslyn Estates.
In fact, the crowd turned out to be more than the library could legally handle. And so, a fire marshal was forced to disband the meeting. The village is already working on plans to hold future meetings at venues larger than the Bryant Library, the dates and place of which will appear in future issues of The Roslyn News.
The public debate concerns zoning changes based upon recommendations of the village's Landmark, Architectural Review Board, and Subdivision Committees. Roslyn Estates Mayor Susan Ben-Moshe said any changes in the zoning law center around three proposals.
The first is an upzoning proposal. The purpose of upzoning, Mayor Ben-Moshe said, is to diminish the number of subdivisions in the village and, in general, to prevent overdevelopment. The mayor admitted that maybe 12 residences out of the 240 in the village would be affected. Large subdivisions, the mayor reiterated, threatens the character of village neighborhoods.
"We don't want to stop new building, only preserve the old buildings," she said.
The second proposal will give the village more control over the demolition of both older and "architecturally significant" houses. An historic district board would be created, one designed to consider every demolition plan or residences that plan to make changes in the facade of their structure.
This proposal would give homeowners two avenues of appeals to any historic board decision. As in other villages, both the Roslyn Estates board of trustees and the zoning board would listen to any appeals.
Finally, the third proposal would involve "beefing up" the Architectural Review Board. The board, Mayor Ben-Moshe said, would be more like the zoning board, complete with meetings and with a consulting architect on hand. There is also the possibility of giving the power of demolition to that board, the mayor added.
Agreeing with opponents of the plan on the nature of the village, Mayor Ben-Moshe said the purpose of any new zoning laws would be to keep Roslyn Estates "a beautiful place" that retains its historic architecture. As always, the future of property values remains a major concern.
"We want to make things good for everybody," the mayor said, adding that the creation of new committees was in itself an admission by village officials that they needed to do more about securing a long term vision of both the development of new property and the renovation of older ones.
The current debate continues a process that began last spring with the creation of the subcommittees and the establishment of Local Law 1, which called for a moratorium on subdivisions and certain construction and demolition in the village.
Concerning the Sept. 30 meeting, Mayor Ben-Moshe said Bryant Library officials told the village that the Helen Glannon Room would be large enough for their meeting. The officials noted that when the Village of Roslyn held their highly contentious Stop & Shop meetings, that room was sufficient for the large crowds. When asked why the village did not hold the meeting at Roslyn High School as some residents suggested they should, Mayor Ben-Moshe said that was only because school facilities face a 10 p.m. closing time.
The mayor added that the village has no intention of keeping any resident out of the ongoing debate. She noted that her offices have already mailed out three letters about the work of the committees to Roslyn Harbor residents. Information about the moratorium is part of regular village newsletters.
The village, Mayor Ben-Moshe said, encourages all residents to be part of the debate by either attending meetings or contacting the village by mail, phone, or e-mail. In addition, she said that when the committees were being formed, there was no screening process involved, and that the wishes of each prospective committee member were granted.
While acknowledging that there is opposition to new zoning laws (see the "Letters to the Editor, page 20), Mayor Ben-Moshe said numerous residents have expressed approval for some reforms, praising the board of trustees' efforts to preserve the aesthetics of the village.