By Jada Butler
A proposed local law to create the TMU Transit-Oriented Mixed-Use District in Roslyn Heights was unanimously approved by the board at their latest meeting. The board met via Zoom on Tuesday, Oct. 20, for a final public hearing on the application.
The purpose of the TMU Transit-Oriented Mixed-Use District is to encourage development that takes advantage of its proximity to the Long Island Railroad’s Roslyn Heights station and provides for a mix of uses appropriate for its unique location.
Two lots along Warner Avenue will be repurposed as residential apartment complexes with other amenities slated for the first floor and front facing areas of the buildings. The law was approved with conditions: a maximum height of 40 feet and maximum density of 30 units per acre.
The approved law also allows the space to be used for convenience and specialty retail establishments, service retail establishments, restaurants, banks, and professional and medical offices as long as they aren’t displayed on any street frontage at street level.
During Tuesday’s hearing, Mayor John Durkin noted the multiple public hearings that were made on this subject and cited the support from various Roslyn residents and businesses for the proposed local law.
Residents of Roslyn Heights were recorded as in favor of the law, but against the specific design of the building that would “overwhelm” the site. The Roslyn School District was recorded as against the proposed law with concerns of traffic safety and an influx of school aged children the project would bring.
Within the board’s decision letter posted October 21, they wrote, “Noticeably absent from the School District’s presentation was any empirical data from experts supporting any of their claims.” In contrast, the applicant submitted evidence from experts that stated the school districts claims came “completely without merit.”
Carrie Anne Tondo and Meryl Ben-Levy, representatives of the school district, reiterated their concerns Tuesday. Tondo emphasized the importance of conducting more current traffic studies, saying “student safety is paramount.” Ben-Levy urged the board to ensure that the project will not continue to expand in the future, asking them to do “what is necessary, right and appropriate.”
Maureen O’Connor, a Roslyn Heights resident, appreciated the fact that the village has been listening and taking their opinions into account. Yet she disagreed that the proposed project is consistent with the community’s character, saying anything with more than two stories is inappropriate.
“Implore you to limit this,” O’Connor asked the board. Echoing the concerns of the school district, O’Connor is concerned about adjacent sites being built down the road in a similar fashion.
Trustee Sarah Oral assured the district and concerned residents that the board “does not plan to make any additional developments any time soon.”
Trustee Craig Westergard shared his support for the project. After having “traversed this site for many years, many times,” Westergard has been hopeful someone would come in and try to restore the area.
“The direction this applicant is going is a very good direction,” he said. “I feel this is the appropriate action for the board to be taking – this is a very handsome building for the district and I support the project.”
The next Board of Trustees meeting will take place on November 17 via Zoom.