The Phipps Estate in Old Westbury Village is bounded by...

The Phipps Estate in Old Westbury Village is bounded by Hitchcock Lane, seen here, and Post Road. Credit: Howard Schnapp

The Old Westbury Village board said it would not act on a study that proposed zoning changes to allow multifamily housing after residents pushed back saying it would lead to high-density development and change the character of their picturesque community.

The study was commissioned by the village in 2018 and conducted by VHB, an East Coast engineering firm with an office in Hauppauge.

"The recommendations in the VHB Study remain solely that — recommendations only," read the statement released Friday. "The Board has reached the conclusion that further action is not warranted."

The June study identified three "opportunity sites," including the 98-acre Phipps Estate, and recommended creating an overlay district to allow multifamily buildings in the village where single-family homes account for 98% of its housing stock. Old Westbury has about 1,200 single-family homes.

In July, some residents formed the Village of Old Westbury Civic Association to oppose the suggested zoning changes.

"We feel like we’ve been blindsided and the fact that we hadn’t been politically active, we were being taken advantage of," said Mariella Rutigliano, who noted the association has about 200 members.

Luis Rinaldini, a member of the association, told the trustees in a Monday meeting that the board lost touch with the community.

"We're putting 350 homes in one property," Rinaldini said. "You put 400 or 500 homes in the village of 1,000 homes, and it's not going to change the character of the village? The fact that the board didn't see that is scary."

The property Rinaldini referred to is the Phipps Estate between Post Road and Hitchcock Lane, which developer Stewart Senter is under contract to purchase.

Senter told Newsday on Tuesday he had wanted to build up to 350 units of luxury condos for those who are 55 or older.

"It would allow people who didn't want to have two acres or four acres or more and maintain a large home … to stay in the village and move into a home that everything’s taken care of by the condo association," said Senter of Old Westbury.

The homebuilder added the project would have been a tax generator for the village and local school district without adding school-age children.

At the meeting Monday, a few residents demanded that Deputy Mayor Marina Chimerine, who has used the service of Senter’s company in the past two decades, remove herself from the discussions because they said she had a conflict of interest. Chimerine disputed that she had a conflict of interest but said she would recuse herself if Senter submits an application.

"I'm opposed to any type of development that would compromise the integrity of this village," said Chimerine, who presided the meeting as Mayor Edward Novick was absent due to a death in the family. "But I'm certainly not opposed to any kind of changes in this village."

When pressed by residents to state their position on "high-density, multifamily housing," the remaining three trustees said they do not support it.

"I believe 350 units in a community of 1,100 homes is something that would change the community," trustee Andrew Weinberg said. "It would have a significant impact on the village, and I don't think it would be beneficial."

Study's timeline

  • March 2018: Village officials approved spending $150,000 to hire VHB to review its comprehensive land use plan.
  • January 2020: VHB presented a draft.
  • May 2021: The board approved an additional $82,000 for the study.
  • July 2021: Village of Old Westbury Civic Association was formed.
  • August 2021: The board said it would not act on the study's recommendations.
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