Over the past few months my neighbors and I have been working collaboratively to defeat what we have considered to be an ill-advised proposal to change the zoning of three connecting properties on Ocean and Merton Avenues from residential to commercial, so that the owners of the Holiday Inn Express and Rockville Centre Inn could build a parking lot where these three houses currently stand.
As the during Monday night’s (9/10) Village Trustee’s meeting, the Village Board unanimously supported our position and denied this request – thus hopefully helping us to maintain the residential nature of our neighborhood.
While we recognize that the Morash Family, the owners of the Inns, have invested a sizable amount of money into the purchasing of these properties, we feel that the project was undertaken without their representatives doing adequate research before encouraging them to embark upon this financial commitment. Had a serious effort been undertaken from the outset, their legal representatives would have known that the owners of the nearby homes on both streets would be completely against such a change in zoning status.
Unbelievably, the attorney for the hotel stated to us shortly before the start of the hearing on Monday night, that he didn’t understand what the neighbors had to gain by opposing this project. Such naiveté was either feigned or else demonstrated that he really hadn’t listened to the representatives of the neighbors in the various discussions held over the past four months regarding this issue.
We were clear from the outset that we had several reasons for opposing the project – the two most important being the encroachment of commercial zoning into a residential area which we strongly believe would have had a deleterious impact upon our quality of life – changing the view from our homes of looking at two lovely and well kept homes on Merton Avenue and replacing that with a view of a parking lot with an accompanying unhampered view of a multi-story hotel. These homes now provide a buffer for us from some of the noise on nearby Sunrise Highway. The addition of a parking lot could only have increased noise in the area as well as traffic congestion.
Secondly – and of primary import to the community would be the accompanying devaluation of our properties with the demolition of the homes and subsequent replacement of them with a parking lot. No one honestly would prefer to live next to a parking lot rather than homes. The Hotel’s legal representative tried to argue that this would not be a detriment to our property values or quality of life. Come on – at least be honest about the impact of a project of this nature. I cannot imagine that he would prefer to have a parking lot installed across from or next to his home over that of nicely maintained homes.
We therefore appealed to the community at large and our elected officials to prevent this project from being undertaken. We feel that the board went out of its way to hear from both sides and tried to help forge a compromise win/win solution to our disagreements, however, despite our willingness to do so, this did not occur. So (from our perspective) the board then made the only appropriate and logical decision possible and denied the zoning change request. We are deeply appreciative to the Mayor and all four Trustees for the support they’ve provided to us in this matter.
We also recognize that the issue has not as yet been completely resolved, as we do not know what the hotel owners plan to do now that their project has not been approved by the Village. We can only hope that they’ll maintain the houses in good condition and either attempt to sell them to families wishing to move into the area or to rent them out to one or more deserving potential tenants.
Unfortunately, over the past few months, the property at #3 Merton hasn’t been maintained in the pristine condition it was in when sold last year. We hope that this will be rectified so that the property doesn’t fall into further disrepair thereby forcing the issue of a non-necessary demolition.
Over the past few years, the owners of the hotel, Tom Morash and his sons have demonstrated themselves to be good neighbors. As a matter of fact, during this time frame, we’ve come to know and respect them as the fine people they are. We hope that there’s no bitterness over what’s transpired – as it was nothing personal. Throughout the process the owners and residents have been on exceptionally cordial terms and we would like nothing better than for that to continue.
The criticisms raised above – were not directed at the Morash family – but rather their representatives in this process whom we believe gave them poor advice as to the appropriateness and acceptability of this project.
From my wife and my perspective – it was great to see the wheels of local government doing the peoples’ business effectively and fairly – unlike what’s been happening in the nation’s capital.
So please allow me to formally state once again to William Hendrick, mayor; Alan Beach, deputy mayor; Hilary Becker, trustee; Michael Hawxhurst, trustee and Tom Atkinson, trustee - thank you one and all so very much for your support. Thanks also to all of our neighbors – both near and far – who lent their support to this cause, as well as to the local press for providing a vehicle for us to share our concerns with the community.
Ocean Avenue, Lynbrook, N.Y.