The Landmarks Preservation Commission of the Village of Baxter Estates convened on May 16 to approve, with conditions, the site plan presented on April 11 of the proposed new single family home at 15 Shore Rd., the site where the Baxter House once stood. Similarly, the commission approved the structure of the home pursuant to the commission’s authority under Village Code 118-6 with respect to new construction in historic sites.
“There are two actions we have to take,” said Chairman of the Landmarks Preservation Commission Peter Salins at the start of the meeting. “We have to decide on the landmark site proposal and act on the site plan connected to that. We’re pretty much at the end of the time we could make a decision on this particular proposal, so we really have a trinary choice: We can deny the proposed construction, we can approve it without any conditions and we can approve it with some conditions.”
Applicant Sabrina Wu’s attorney, A. Thomas Levin, apologized to the board for Wu’s absence and said she had personal matters to attend to.
Because the board had asked to see additional materials that were proposed at the last meeting, N2 Design + Architecture, PC,’s Principal Architect Frank Genese (also a commissioner on the Town of North Hempstead Historic Landmarks Preservation Commission and trustee in the Village of Flower Hill) presented a mock up of an Anderson Woodwright Series simulated divided light window constructed of Versatex, a PVC material that mimics wood—a window he explained has been used in a number of historic restorations and is accepted by the National Parks Service. Salins asked if there would be mullions on the upper and lower portions of the windows.
“There’s two ways we can go with this: we can go with a six over six, or we can go with six over one,” said Genese. “After the meeting last time, the client had expressed interest in not having divisions on the lower window to take advantage of the views.”
Salins expressed the board would prefer six over six because he said the original structure had the mullions divisions in the upper and lower sections of the windows.
Genese also presented the plank siding and shingles that were proposed for the roof.
Landscape architect Damon Scott presented the changes made to the landscape plan, which included the addition of two plants to the plant list, addition of plants to the northwest corner of the home, addition of three fountain grass along the garage, elimination of a small section of privet, addition of one evergreen, the walkway was narrowed to 3 feet and the location of the steps were changed.
The commission’s attorney, Christopher Prior, asked what was being done, if anything, regarding the concerns resident Steven Stulbaum raised at the last meeting about the air conditioner and generator units placed on the side of the house adjacent to Stulbaum’s property. Prior confirmed that there would be sound attenuation panels around the units and evergreen screening.
“As an attorney, I recognize one problem with that suggestion from the neighbor, which is the selected location is the only one that can be done without variances,” said Prior.
“There’s equipment that’s quieter than some,” said Scott. “We have a fence on the inside around it, we have evergreens around that and then we also have another solid fence around [the yard], so it’s got three layers of sound buffering. Other than getting a lower decibel air conditioning unit, there’s not much more we can do.”
After the presentation and multiple questions from the commission, Salins asked if any community members would like to comment.
“Again, this does not look like the Baxter House,” said Kathy Coley. “I’m disappointed. I appreciate the concerns you have for our neighbors’ closeness to the new house. I didn’t hear anything about the trees that might be cut down. I’m feeling a little disheartened.”
Jill Berg, a third-generation Port resident, held similar sentiments and said, “Aesthetically, the house looks beautiful, but it doesn’t close enough represent the Baxter House to me. The siding that was shown doesn’t represent it enough. The second floor deck wasn’t even existent on the old house. There are too many variations on it.”
“It seems to me relatively minor modifications of the design to get the different setback in the front and not to have this patio going across the second floor might not be a major modification, so a gentle question, would the client consider the concerns of me and the residents,” asked commission member Michael Marmor.
“I think I can speak to the gentle question, but the answer is no,” responded Levin. “The goal here is to have a decision on whether this is an appropriate design, not whether it’s the most appropriate or the one you like the best. It’s the owner’s choice. What I’m hearing from everybody is it’s appropriate, but they would like something better. You’re not entitled to that.”
“I understand, but on the other hand, I do want the other members on the committee to exercise their judgment in terms of their interpretation of our jurisdiction,” said Salins.
The commission recessed to executive session for about 40 minutes. Once they returned, the board unanimously voted to approve both decisions with conditions.
Conditions included an amendment to the landscape plan to switch out a type of grass for a non-invasive type of grass; the addition of juniper planting to the area where there are no windows; condition that the driveway be no more than 12 feet wide and the turnaround no more than 20 feet wide; a condition that the windows have six over six mullions; any trees in the village right of way shall not be removed unless the village board of trustees approves; and the air conditioning and compressor shall meet a noise level of 59 decibels or less.
To address the possibility of the site containing Native American remains or artifacts, a condition states that if any such type of artifact or remain is found, the construction stops, the entities that have jurisdiction over that are notified and the superintendent of buildings resolves the issue. In order to address the possibility of soil contaminants, including lead, prior to the issuance of any building permit, the owner of the premises shall present to the village and superintendent of buildings evidence, including soil samples.
What do you think of this site plan approval? Share your thoughts with me at firstname.lastname@example.org.