Baldwin residents oppose official's project

Baldwin residents protest the Nassau Planning Commission's approval Baldwin residents protest the Nassau Planning Commission's approval to subdivide a one home property into two small lots on Sept. 18, 2013. Photo Credit: Newsday/Alejandra Villa

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More than 200 Baldwin residents have signed a petition opposing a subdivision on a residential lot in their neighborhood, which the Nassau County planning commission approved for one of its members.

The lot, at Stanton Avenue and Oak Street near Brookside Elementary School, is owned by Bianco Homes, a Franklin Square company whose chief executive is planning commission member James Bianco. He wants to split the roughly 16,000-square-foot lot in half and build two homes where there had been one.

The planning commission approved the subdivision, with Bianco recusing himself, on Sept. 12. Hempstead Town's board of appeals had approved the plan in June.

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Neighborhood residents, including Jack McCloy, said more than 200 residents have signed the petition, arguing the subdivision would bring two unnecessarily dense homes to the area -- and set a precedent for more. Moreover, McCloy said, residents believe Bianco used his political influence to gain approval.

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The residents are considering filing a lawsuit to try to block the approval, McCloy said.

"There is a great likelihood that anybody else would not have been approved," said McCloy, who lives four houses from the lot.

Attempts to reach Bianco -- who needs building permits to break ground -- were not successful. His attorney, Lisa Cairo of Garden City, said there was no conflict of interest because Bianco did not vote. "I didn't see any reason why it would be denied," Cairo said.

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Bob O'Brien, attorney for the planning commission, said there was no conflict in the commission's approval. "He doesn't stop building by becoming commissioner," O'Brien said. "People just don't like change in their neighborhood."

Jeffrey Greenfield, chairman of the planning commission, said Bianco's decision to recuse himself from the vote "was the right thing to do." He declined to comment further.

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Bianco's plans for the lot call for two two-story houses -- about 2,500 square feet each -- located 10 feet apart, Nassau records state. The lot was once home to a single-family residence that has been demolished.

The neighborhood surrounding the lot, which is about a half-mile from the Freeport line in northern Baldwin, is a densely settled residential community of tidy single-family homes on single lots.

Philip Bashe, who lives next to the lot, said he felt county officials ignored residents' concerns. He said one of the new homes will be about 10 feet from his property line, which will impinge on his privacy.

Bashe said the large number of neighbors who oppose the subdivision should have more sway than a nine-member planning commission. "I say we're the experts," Bashe said. "We should be listened to."

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