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Residents Save Old House

For months, residents of Roslyn Heights have lobbied to prevent the destruction of a 112-year old house on 73 Warner Ave., one that they claim is on property that is only zoned for residential purposes.


Their persistence has paid off. According to Warner Avenue resident, Dolores Augustine, the developer, JDN Properties of Mineola has withdrawn all parts of their variance request related to the address of the old house. JDN represented the nearby Porsche dealership, which sought to construct commercial uses on the property, including a new parking lot. Once they withdrew their original application, JDN only requested a permit to continue to use the lot on the southeastern side of Warner Avenue as an automobile storage lot. That permit, Augustine claimed, had expired in the 1960s. The Town of North Hempstead Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA) has granted Porsche a two-year extension, Augustine said, one that lasts until May 2015.


Community activists speculate that JDN withdrew the application because approval from the BZA was unlikely. In his letter to the BZA, Michael Sahn, an attorney for JDN, said that Porsche, in the future, “may consider submitting to the Board a different application affecting some or all of the subject property.” For now, JDN only sought a permit for the automobile storage lot, which, as noted, was granted. 


Over the past several months, Augustine gathered community support for her preservation effort. Two petitions resulted in 170 signatures opposing the development. Augustine listed concerns familiar to any homeowner, namely bright lights coming from the Porsche lot, plus pollution and noise from the lot drive testing automobiles. 


She also received a letter of support from Village of Roslyn Mayor John Durkin to the BZA. Roslyn Heights is under the jurisdiction of that town. However, Augustine said that part of Hillside Avenue is located in Roslyn and so Mayor Durkin took an interest in the proposed development. In his letter to Fielding, Mayor Durkin said that the variance application would result in the “encroachment of commercial uses into a residential area,” while adding that the area is “already over-burdened with commercial uses and any further expansion of those commercial uses will be detrimental to the residents living in Roslyn Heights, as well as those parts of Warner Avenue and Hillside Avenue lying in the Village of Roslyn.” Durkin also noted that there are two schools near the dealership and any expansion would pose a safety threat to local schoolchildren. 


In April, Sahn told The Roslyn News that a portion of the property where the house sits is zoned for commercial uses. “It [the property] is split-zoned,” Sahn said. “We propose to have the parking lot that would be fully-buffered with a minimum 15-ft. buffer with dense, large planting. No one could see into it.”


In addition, Sahn said there would be no curb cuts onto Warner Avenue and no access for vehicles except through the Porsche building on Northern Boulevard.


 “The Nassau County Planning Commission said it [the planned development] would benefit the community,” Sahn said. But all this apparently was not enough to keep the application alive.