New Jericho 'golden age' condo plan site riles community

advertisement | advertise on newsday

A revised proposal to develop senior housing near a high school was intended to ease controversy, but the Jericho school district and residents are gearing up for another fight.

Garden City-based developer Engel Burman Group in June submitted an application to change from single-family zoning, to build 70 "golden age" condos on Old Cedar Swamp Road. They followed last month by withdrawing an application for a zoning change needed for a previous proposal, a Bristal assisted living facility.

Engel Burman president Jan Burman said they scrapped the older proposal because the firm had other opportunities, and the new plan, which would not require a large staff on site and would generate less traffic, would be "less controversial.

"They [opponents] were concerned about those people coming in and out of the neighborhood; and now you're going to have people that live in the neighborhood; and that will be their homes," Burman said. The residents "will be people from the community who are looking to downsize and want to stay in the community . . . many of them will be retired."

Some neighbors and Jericho School District Superintendent Henry Grishman said they still oppose the project.The proximity of the project to the middle school and high school -- and the traffic from residents and deliveries -- worry Grishman.

"We have 2,000 kids on that campus, we have several hundred staff members, buses in and out, parents in and out," he said. "My primary responsibility as the superintendent of schools is the health, safety and well-being of our students."

The earlier proposal, which would have necessitated a zoning change to a commercial use, had called for a lone structure with 140 beds and 164 parking spaces on 4.87 acres. The new proposal would build five two-story buildings -- with a total of 70 units -- on 3.38 acres. Two-bedroom condos would cost between $300,000 and $350,000, Burman said. The construction, expected to last 18 months, would cost between $15 million and $20 million, he said.

Adding 70 units of housing to a short street would ruin the peace, quiet and character of the neighborhood and hurt property values, said Gennaro DeLuca, 46, who owns an interior construction business and had opposed the Bristal.

advertisement | advertise on newsday

"This was always single-family housing and you now want to build a cluster?" DeLuca said. DeLuca said he was disappointed the developer had not notified neighbors about the new proposal. "If they're so concerned about the community, why didn't Burman knock on my door?" DeLuca said.

DeLuca's wife, Jacqueline, 49, a stay-at-home mother, said families bought in the area for the zoning. "It was single-family, and that's where we want to live. I don't think anything else besides single-family fits."

A hearing on the proposed zoning change hasn't been scheduled, Oyster Bay Supervisor John Venditto said. He said it was too early in the process for the town to weigh in.

"We encourage the developer to work with the community," Venditto said.

You also may be interested in: