Durkin Explains Developer’s Fee


Development is always a top issue in Roslyn. Many residents don’t remember the controversies of decades past, when urban renewal and proposed commercial developments riled the public. What followed was the flourishing of landmark preservation and a Board of Trustees that limited new development to residential projects.
With a new year underway, Mayor John Durkin has issued a newsletter to village residents concerning developer’s fees. Here is the gist of the letter, where the mayor wanted to “talk a little” about fees.
“When a major project comes before our board, it starts a series of events for us to review and decide. If it’s substantially within the parameters of the zoning district in which it is proposed, we will indicate our willingness to hear the application. The board will declare itself the lead agency and ask the applicant to supply us with all necessary information to review the project. We will bring on experts to guide us through the process. These experts will include traffic, building and environmental engineers. They in turn will make recommendations and modifications to the project to improve its compatibility with village zoning. The applicant will fill out an environmental assessment form. This form will give us a clear idea of the impacts the project will have on our community. We consider traffic, noise, and other environmental impacts. We make sure it conforms to height and density regulations. We also consider compatibility, architectural integrity and, if necessary, historical appropriateness.
“If the proposed project checks all these boxes, it then is brought before the board for public review. We take input from residents and property owners who might be affected by the new building. It is our job as trustees to weigh the impact versus the benefit to the village. If we agree that the benefits outweigh the impacts, and feel the project should move forward, we attempt to mitigate those impacts by attaching conditions to the application. For instance, if a new construction will have an acceptable level of traffic impact, we might require the developer to fund the construction of crosswalks in the village. Or, if a new building will cause a loss of green space, we often require the applicant to construct parkland in available areas of the neighborhood. Other impact fees have helped repair sewer lines and repave roads. Each project has its own set of conditions that we as a board try to identify and amend. As a result of these developer fees, we have been able to build parkland and parking lots, plant trees, repair infrastructure and hold money in reserve, all of this without having to burden residents.
“I think these fees have been an effective tool for us,” the letter concluded. “As I became more familiar with local zoning, smart growth strategies, and responsible development, the idea of an impact fee has made more and more sense. The board of trustees recognized that we would see our village grow, that developers saw opportunity in our community and would look to build here. It is our job to make sure that the new projects are consistent with our vision and that any new building will complement, not contrast, with what was already there. We strive to ensure that any impact can be mitigated sufficiently enough so as to make that impact as harmless as possible.”
The village’s Master Plan for development was developed in the mid-1990s as a response to a proposed Stop & Shop supermarket in vacant land off of Skillman Street. The proposal was defeated and an entire new board of trustees was elected. In time, a Master Plan was developed and implemented. The goals of the plan were to:
1.) Safeguard the integrity and value of Roslyn’s historic and scenic resources.
2.) Create a cohesive waterfront that enhances the economic vitality and value of its uses, the adjacent downtown and the village as a whole.
3.) Bolster the downtown’s specialty niche as an historic and waterfront business center, used by residents from the region seeking one-of-a-kind, small-scale shops and restaurants.
4.) Accommodate new residential development in a manner that also helps to maintain and create attractive and highly valued neighborhoods.
“The overarching goal is to preserve what is best about Roslyn, while creating new and added value along the waterfront and in the downtown, in particular,” the plan’s statement read. “The vision is not of a Village that is dramatically different, but rather one that is decidedly better.”

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