The Hempstead Town Board approved a controversial plan to turn the site of a vacant school building in Seaford into a $45 million senior housing complex.
Board members voted 6-0 Tuesday 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. Councilman Edward Ambrosino was absent.
The zoning change makes way for development of The Seasons at Seaford, a 112-unit condominium complex for residents 62 or older on the Seaford Avenue School property at Seaford and Waverly avenues. The development would restrict those younger than 18 from living there.
"We hope to move quickly to get started," Jan Burman, president of The Engel Burman Group, said in a phone interview. "Hopefully, we can break ground by the end of the year."
District residents in December 2012 approved a plan to sell the building, vacant since 2010, to the developer for $5.2 million. The sale, contingent on zoning approvals, is expected to save the district about $100,000 in annual maintenance and create more than $975,000 in annual tax revenue, officials have said.
"While it is a big change for the community . . . and there are heartfelt feelings on the issue on both sides, ultimately I believe it is the best decision for the community going forward," Seaford schools Superintendent Brian L. Conboy said.
Most residents attending a hearing in February opposed the plan because of the density on the 5.67-acre site, proximity to single-family homes, possible increases in traffic and insufficient parking. After the hearing, the developer dropped its bid to lower the minimum age requirement to 55, town attorney Joseph Ra said. The lower age requirement would have allowed fewer parking spaces than under existing senior housing zoning guidelines, he said.
"They put it within the legal parameters by putting it at 62," said Phil Franco, president of the Seaford Harbor Civic Association. "It is not within what the immediate community wanted or what the entire community voted on, but that is what the town decided."