Hearing On Dejana Property Continued

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Site plans for a mixed-use building at 22 Sagamore Hill Dr. and 20 Secatog Ave. in Port Washington was the topic of discussion at the village of Manorhaven’s planning board meeting held on Dec. 3. Although the initial building was already approved by the board of zoning appeals earlier this year, the planning board is still reviewing additional information regarding the site plans. The application is for the construction of two mixed-use buildings consisting of 16 two-bedroom apartments with a retail or office space on the lower floor and an outdoor deck on the roof for recreational purposes.

An environmental assessment was needed for the property, which is formerly an industrial site. At the last meeting in November, Howard Avrutine from Howard Avrutine of Avrutine & Associates, PLLC, appeared on behalf of the applicant to discuss the environmental assessment.

“After a federal review of the environmental impact, the board of zoning appeals issued a negative declaration, which means that the proposed action will not have a significant adverse affect on the environment,” Avrutine said.

Due to the fact that there was competing information regarding what precautions may need to be taken for the possible contamination. Zygmunt Jagiello, chairman of the Manorhaven planning board, asked for more clarification about the company who conducted the assessment, Long Island Analytical Laboratories, to determine if the testing was on par with other companies findings. In November, the board continued the hearing and asked the applicant to provide additional information regarding the legitimacy of the environmental assessment, which was conducted in October.

The lab updated the soil testing and drinking water samples and conducted an environmental assessment to determine the levels of contamination on the property. Prior to that, the last study was conducted many years ago.

Michael Veraldi, vice president at Long Island Analytical Laboratories presented the planning board with information regarding the environmental assessment. According to the results from the testing, the soil contamination is above the Department of Environmental Conservation’s (DEC) limit for the maximum contamination. Despite these levels, the lab stated that it will not need to be remediated.

“If you look at the trend from nine years ago to now, it has decreased more than half,” Veraldi said. “The soil is completely clean and the ground water is cleaning itself naturally. I understand it’s above the federal limit but it is not astronomically above the federal limit. It does not warrant any type of sub-slab depressurization system or a soil vapor barrier.”

Long Island Analytical Laboratories, located in Holbrook, is certified by the DEC to conduct these studies. The lab stated that they do not believe the contamination is going to be a future problem due to the trend, which stated that the levels of contamination are decreasing over time. Since the levels are decreasing, it is unlikely that they would arise to a dangerous level again. The lab did suggest to the applicant that they should leave testing sites open on the property for future evaluation to make sure the numbers do not increase.

If the contamination levels were to increase, proper remediation to address the contaminants could still occur once the property is built upon. The public comment portion of the meeting addressed residents’ concerns regarding the property.

“I feel that passing by this dirt lot, it’s a terrible thing,” Jeff Stone, a resident and real estate agent said. “I believe this town should always progress forward, with thought behind it and with the professionals [that are] here discussing it.”
He mulled over the planning boards rigorous evaluation but stated that he would like to see something built on the property in the near future.

Resident Nick Marra spoke next and called out the planning board for reiterating questions that were already asked in previous site-plan evaluation meetings.

“Some of the things tonight, it seems like we wasted a lot of time,” Marra said. “You were discussing traffic that’s already been approved by the [board of zoning appeals. There are also a lot of statements being made here tonight that are irrelevant.”

Marra also called out the planning board for not having researched the contaminants and their effects prior to the meeting, so more educated questions could be asked.

“They are also questioning the relevance of the education of all the employees that work there,” Marra said. “When you go into an operating room for brain surgery, everybody in that room isn’t a brain surgeon. They don’t all have the same level of education. If were going to question it, why don’t you have some backing before you question it? You’re entitled to ask questions, that’s great. But if you have a question, have something in your back pocket to pull out to say, ‘I know this.’”

“These have to be public discussions [that’s] the reason it can be long and tiresome,” Jagiello said. “We try to exploit experts to tell us.”

The next meeting will take place on Wednesday, Dec. 11, at 7 p.m. at the village hall, located at 33 Manorhaven Blvd. in Port Washington, and will discuss final updates to the application.

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