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Levittown residents rip 50-unit condo plan

Residents blasted a plan to build a 50-unit condominium complex on vacant land in Levittown that was part of the nation's first superhighway, telling developers they would prefer the site to be turned into a park to protect the community's residential character.

More than 150 people attended a community meeting Tuesday to voice opposition to the proposed condo project and a separate proposal to build a three-story assisted living facility on the North Village Green, as well as plans by the local AMC Loews cinemas to sell alcohol.

But the focus of their anger was the proposed project by Crocus Lane Estates LLC and Josato Inc. to build housing for residents 55 and over on a site that is part of the former Vanderbilt Motor Parkway. The highway was built in 1903 and stretched 48 miles from Flushing to Ronkonkoma.

Attorney William S. Cohn, who represents Crocus Lane and Josato, angered residents at the Levittown Property Owners Association meeting when he told them the community cannot continue to oppose proposals to develop the site.

"You can't keep saying no," he said, drawing shouts from residents. "You can't have a property vacant for years."

Josato, formerly called Terra Homes, has been battling since 1984 to change the Town of Hempstead's zoning laws so it could develop the property. The developers are currently seeking approval to rezone a nearly 3-acre parcel on Crocus Lane between Blacksmith and Orchid roads from single-family housing to allow the condo complex.

The complex would include three separate, two-story buildings with 117 street parking spaces but the developers would need a variance because zoning code requires 133 spaces, Cohn said. The condos would sell for less than $300,000 and have separate entrances and a 20-foot side yard.

Several residents said they were concerned the project would destroy the community's residential design. There were concerns about the proximity of a private access road -- about 2 to 5 feet -- to nearby homes.

Some argued the site should be turned into a park because of its historical significance.

"You said, 'it is not big enough for a park,' but you think it would be big enough for a 50-unit complex and a road?" Michael Esgro, 45, a 25-year Levittown resident, asked Cohn.

Nassau County can use its eminent domain powers to claim the land for a park but has not done so, Cohn said.

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