Hempstead postpones Seaford condo plan vote

The vacant Seaford Avenue School on Sept. 30, The vacant Seaford Avenue School on Sept. 30, 2012. Board members voted 6-0 Tuesday, May 20, 2014, to approve a request from BK at Seaford LLC, a subsidiary of The Engel Burman Group in Garden City, to change the zoning from residential to senior citizen housing. Photo Credit: Steven Sunshine

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A controversial plan to turn the site of a vacant school building in Seaford into a $45 million senior housing complex received mixed reactions from residents Tuesday.

After a three-hour hearing with nearly three dozen speakers, the Hempstead Town Board postponed making a decision on a request from BK at Seaford LLC, a subsidiary of The Engel Burman Group in Garden City, to change the zoning from residential to senior citizen housing.

The zoning change would make way for The Seasons at Seaford, a 112-unit condominium complex for residents age 55 or older on the Seaford Avenue School property at Seaford and Waverly avenues.

"I am very much opposed to up-zoning," John Ruha of Seaford said during the hearing. "Increasing or tripling the density . . . would have long-term repercussions for this area. It would affect our suburban lifestyle."

Most residents at the hearing opposed the plan because of the density on the 5.67-acre site, its proximity to single-family homes and possible increases in traffic. Burman's traffic expert Robert Eschbacher said there would be a minimal increase in traffic compared with previous uses at the site.

"The character of the community is single-family homes and that's how it should stay," said Phil Franco, president of the Seaford Harbor Civic Association.

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The developer is also seeking to lower the minimum age requirement -- from 62 years to 55 -- and restrict children younger than 18 from residing in the development.

Ken Jacobson, past president of the Seaford Chamber of Commerce, supported the proposal. "We think that with at least 112 residents in the community, it is a positive thing for businesses in the community that are really hanging by a thread," he said.

"We also feel this type of development is something that is needed within our community," Seaford schools Superintendent Brian L. Conboy said.

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The complex would consist of two-bedroom units with two bathrooms in about a dozen two-story buildings, along with a clubhouse providing 7,000 square feet of indoor recreation area, a pool and 195 parking spaces. The owner-occupied units would sell for about $400,000.

The school building has been vacant since 2010. District residents in December 2012 approved, in a 972-769 vote, a plan to sell the site to the developer for $5.2 million.

The pending sale is expected to save the district about $100,000 in annual maintenance costs and create more than $975,000 in annual tax revenue, real estate expert Barry Nelson said at the hearing.

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