Plans to build a three-story office/apartment building on Liberty Ave. in Westbury raised no opposition at a public hearing held last week to discuss the project, according to Village of Westbury Planning Board Chairman Steven Corte.
The planning board held the Feb. 23 hearing to give the public an opportunity to become familiar with the potential developer's proposal for a three story building that would consist of an office on the first floor and a total of 14 apartments on the second and third floors. Corte said the vacant lot on 75 Liberty Ave. and Castle would be perfectly suited for the building and didn't expect many residents to oppose the project. Although, primarily a business zone, the site may also be used for residential uses, Corte said.
The plan has been in the works for over two years, according to Corte, and has gone through numerous refinements. Although it has yet to be approved by the village board of trustees, the plan takes into consideration village building codes and requirements, said Corte. He added that the building's architect, Benjamin Rutella, is familiar with village ordinances.
"Ben Rutella has done a lot of work in this village over the years. He knows the code as well as we do, so when he brings you a plan there is almost no question that it's going to satisfy the code," said Corte adding that the planning board is still responsible for checking that the plan meets village requirements.
When constructing new buildings, developers and the village also have to be considerate of homeowners living adjacent to the sites being developed, said Corte. He explained that the plans include the use of six-feet tall bushes which would act as buffers between the building and adjacent properties.
"We go to great lengths to make sure that regardless of the project any time you abut residential properties, we go out of our way to make sure that the buffers are more than adequate," he said.
Corte said the building will be an attractive addition to the area. Designed to have a late 18th century look, the building would be vinyl and brick. What makes the plans different, explained Corte, is the 1776 style of the bricks and mortar. He said the mortar will be almost the same color as the red bricks unlike the usual combination of red bricks with white or off-white mortar.
In other Village of Westbury news, the property referred to as the old Hicks coal yard may one day be developed into a seniors assisted-living facility, according to Planning Board Commissioner Corte.
Corte said the village is writing new zoning regulations for the property on Madison Ave. and Post Ave. Rezoning the property, currently zoned industrial, would clear the way for the development of an assisted living facility being proposed by an interested developer. Before the village can adopt the new regulations, the zoning laws will go to the planning board for review and will be presented to Westbury residents in a public hearing. Any subsequent plans for the facility itself would also go through a similar review process.
The property has been used for a variety of purposes since its days as a coal yard including as the site of an oil company and a storage facility for landscaping supplies, Corte explained. Saying that an assisted living facility would be well-suited for the site, Corte added that it would be a home-run for everybody.
He said that people living in assisted living facilities are mobile and would benefit from being located so close to the Long Island Rail Road station, as well as taxi service. The location is also close to Post Ave. stores, so while some of the facility's residents may not drive, they can walk down the block to local shops. Corte explained that assisted living differs from nursing homes in that assisted living facility residents are more independent. In assisted living facilities, residents have their own rooms, but share common kitchens and recreation areas, he said.
The village has hired consultant John Hogan to help the village write the new zoning regulations and to review future site plans for the project. Hogan is a real estate consultant specializing in nursing homes, assisted living facilities and all types of health care related facilities. Corte said Hogan's familiarity with the area, as well as his real estate knowledge will be beneficial to the village.
"These are what we call specific use buildings. It's not the kind of building that if someone vacated it, you could sell it tomorrow and just convert it to an alternate use. Because they have quirks to them, you have to prepare for that. That was the purpose of having John Hogan on board," explained Corte.