There was standing room only at Manorhaven Village Hall on March 3 as residents convened to discuss the Draft Waterfront Analysis written by Cameron Engineering and Associates, LLP, that recommended the Incorporated Village of Manorhaven make zoning changes to enhance public access and views to the waterfront. The question and answer session heard questions and comments from residents with the general consensus being in opposition to the draft of recommendations, which included a Waterfront Overlay District that could be applied to C-1, R-3, R-4 and MR zoning districts.
“The purpose of this meeting is to give you the opportunity to ask Cameron to explain any aspects of the draft that you do not understand,” said Mayor Jim Avena as he began the meeting. “Before the Board of Trustees make any changes to the Village Code, we will host another public hearing and hear from residents once again. Please remember that Cameron’s draft is a tool that will assist the Board of Trustees. It’s not a mandate. While I appreciate and respect their hardwork and sound judgement, at the end of the day it is up to the Board of Trustees and me to determine what, if any, changes be made to the code. Our sole concern is what is best for the residents and the village.”
Representative of Cameron Engineering and Associates, LLP, David Tepper, explained to residents that the firm derived their recommendations from attending Waterfront Advisory Committee meetings along with discussions with the village and the public. Tepper said the analysis attempts to “strike a balance between public access being number one as well as not infringing on the rights of owners.” Two main points Tepper drew to residents’ attention were the recommentation for the overlay district, which Village Attorney Steven Leventhal explained as “adding an option for development, but the option carries with it benefits for the community” tied to open space, open views and public access, and the fact that the firm recommended no changes be made in the R-1 district.
“We feel that is an established single family neighborhood of Manhasset Isle and wouldn’t see any reason or benefit to opening that up to additional development or changes in development,” said Tepper.
Many residents voiced their opposition to the recommendations made by the engineering firm, including Richard Raskin, member of Manorhaven’s Waterfront Advisory Committee, who said, “I think that you misunderstood the request for more waterfront access and more waterfront views. I think what you really heard was the cry from the community not to diminish those things.”
“The members of the waterfront community here feel very strongly that they wanted waterfront protection,” said former Village of Manorhaven mayor Gary Pagano. “As far as putting an overlay, which is a very small hurdle for a property owner to go over to achieve the ability to expand their property usage by bypassing the zoning code—which is basically what an overlay is, by giving that opportunity—the blanket over the C-1 district is a very big mistake in my opinion and a change to the very nature of the entire community of Port Washington.”
When resident Alana Benjamin brought up the question, “where do we go from here? Because there are not a lot of people supporting this,” Leventhal responded by saying, “I would think that the board would want to have a work session in the very near future at which they would discuss what they heard today. They will decide what direction, if any, they want to proceed in. Once they have a conceptual idea, if anything, then it will be my job with the engineers to prepare proposed laws to consider. Those proposed laws will then require SECRA, if anything at all is done. It will be advertised; there will be public hearings.”
“I recognize that people are dead-set against any modification of the C-1 area,” said Avena as he concluded the meeting. “If the community does not want to change the C-1, we understand the message here today. We will take that back, have a board meeting, a work session, but I certainly have the message. We appreciate the input regarding this study. We’ve heard you. We’re listening and, for the most part, we’ll take action based upon your recommendations today, I can assure you of that.”
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