A decades-long battle over the future of a 2.5-acre property in Levittown moves into a new phase Wednesday with a public hearing on a petition to allow a developer to build four houses on less than the required parcel size.
The new proposal from Josato Inc. calls for variances from the Hempstead Town Board of Appeals to build the single-family homes on separate parcels that are 5 feet short of the 60-foot width required.
The previous plan to build a 46-unit condominium complex was rejected by the board last year.
The site is part of the former Vanderbilt Motor Parkway, the nation's first superhighway, which was built in 1903 and stretched 48 miles from Flushing to Ronkonkoma.
The property on Crocus Lane between Blacksmith and Orchid roads would be subdivided into two 42,380-square-foot plots and two 13,200-square-foot plots, said Josato's attorney William S. Cohn of Uniondale. The plots are larger than the required 6,000 square feet under the special Levittown Planned Residence District zoning, created in 1975 to preserve the area's history of detached single-family homes.
The proposal also includes a private road leading to the two larger homes in the back; the two smaller homes would be up front. The homes would sell for about $600,000, Cohn said.
"It is the best of all of the proposals that have been submitted and it would be welcomed by nearby residents, who have had problems with kids gathering on that property and partying," Cohn said. Josato, of North Bellmore, formerly called Terra Homes, has been battling since 1984 to change the town's zoning laws so it could develop the property.
Josato had proposed to build $300,000 condos for residents 55 and older. The Hempstead Town board rejected the plan in October after a nearly five-hour public hearing. Josato was seeking to rezone the parcel from single-family housing to a zone that would allow multiple residences.
Opponents blasted the initial rezoning request, arguing that approval could set a precedent for "spot" zoning, create a fire hazard and cause more noise, traffic and parking problems. They wanted the site to be turned into a park to protect the community's residential character.
Levittown Property Owners Association president James Morrow said reaction from residents to the new plan has been mixed. Association members will vote on whether to support the proposal Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. at the Levittown Public Library.
"We have been fighting this thing for 30 years. It is only one variance," Morrow said. If that is the only variance requested, Morrow said he would support the proposal.
The appeals board hearing will start at 2 p.m. Wednesday in the Nathan L.H. Bennett Pavilion, adjacent to Hempstead Town Hall.