Trustees, Contractors Spar Over Height Variance Approval

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An important public hearing at the Village of Roslyn Board of Trustees meeting last Tuesday turned into a heated discussion between board members and building contractors. The application was for the renovation of the former Nassau-Suffolk Lumber Corporation yard on Old Northern Boulevard. The project to convert the property space located at 17-21 Old Northern Blvd. into a mixed-used retail and residential complex is being financed with a $12.6 million loan from the Manhattan-based firm, Meridian Capital Group.

The application for Lumber Earth Realty became heated as Lumber Earth Realty, LLC contractors John Santos and Kevin Dursun petitioned the board for approval for a building in excess of the allowable height of 35 feet. The additional height allowance calls for special variance by the village board.
Santos and Dursun sought the village’s approval for an additional 14 feet of height on the property. The two contractors were initially approved by the board for a maximum building height of 35 feet but asked for the extra 14 feet for an elevator and air conditioning units on the roof of the proposed second and third floor apartments.

“Why not tell us initially about the extra 14 feet? Why is this issue about the roof coming after the fact,” said Sarah Oral, a board member. “This is a legal issue now because the height of the building is at a point where it requires a variance.”

Santos, who is on the village’s historic district board and is vice president of the Roslyn Landmark Society, said that it was an oversight on his end but that the nature of the project calls for excess height on the roof as a result of a stairwell and elevator being built, as well as air conditioning units.

“The elevator goes to the roof and we need that extra space,” said Santos. “As a result of the excess height we will be using a smaller portion of the roof.”

He said that the two contractors had planned for extra outdoor amenities on the roof such as decking and added green space, but the project had gotten to be too expensive.

Board members had been in favor of the project since it was first brought to the table in August 2013, but were not pleased with the sudden change of plans.

“There are other buildings in Roslyn that are a similar height to what are you are asking but they got height relief because they asked for height relief in advance,” said John Gibbons, the village attorney.

Mayor John Durkin said that he had not anticipated the additional 14 feet after initially allowing the 35-foot height clearance on the project.

“We have to be careful to control the aesthetic side of this project and what is going to be better looking for the village,” said Durkin.

The mayor and the board eventually imposed a $25,000 impact fee in order for the project to continue.

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