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Owner of Baxter House submits application to raze landmark

The Baxter House, which dates to the 18th

The Baxter House, which dates to the 18th century, is being considered for demolition. Credit: Newsday / J. Conrad Williams Jr.

The Village of Baxter Estates’ sole landmarked home is officially being considered for demolition.

Residents have long been concerned about the Baxter House’s deteriorating appearance, with its sagging porch, decaying roof and other signs of neglect. A recent application to raze the two-story, 3,396-square-foot home and replace it with a replica has been submitted to the village’s Landmark Preservation Committee.

The owner, Sabrina Wu of Flushing, has proposed alterations that include adding a garage and other “minor variations.”

Baxter Estates is next to Port Washington. Residents said the home at the corner of Central Drive and Shore Road is a testament to the area’s history, that any attempted replica would ring false and that they will fight to preserve the property, which dates to the early 18th century.

“A replica is phony; it’s not real; it’s pretend,” said longtime village resident Kathy Coley, 66. “It shouldn’t be something that looks like something out of Disney World.”

The Baxter House, which overlooks Manhasset Bay, was owned for more than a century by the Baxter family, which held nearly 400 acres that later became the Village of Baxter Estates. Over the years, the home has housed quartered Hessian troops during the Revolutionary War and Port Washington’s first library.

Wu bought the property in 2003 for $990,000. Two years later, she fought the village’s designation to landmark the home, which placed it under preservation laws intended to maintain the structure and prevent significant alterations.

Wu has been issued multiple orders to repair the home’s porch, gutters, roof and windows. In June 2016, Wu’s lawyer, A. Thomas Levin, of Garden City-based Meyer Suozzi, appealed those requests, calling them “excessive and burdensome,” according to legal documents. Levin also said the repairs would require Wu to “expend a substantial sum.”

New plans show additional balconies and windows, but do not include dimensions.

Residents said they will do their best to prevent the demolition by writing letters, contacting preservationists and attending upcoming meetings.

In a recent letter sent to the village board, a group of residents urged the village to pursue litigation against Wu for outstanding citations, even pledging to help offset legal bills.

Village attorney Chris Prior said in a phone interview that the “village isn’t going to address litigation.”

The Landmark Preservation Commission has yet to set a date to review Wu’s application, though the meeting will likely be held early next month, Prior said. A final decision on demolition may require several meetings, said Village Clerk Chrissy Kiernan.

If necessary, residents are prepared to appeal the decision, said Michael Scotto, of Baxter Estates.

“The village took the step to landmark the property over 10 years ago . . . if the Landmark Preservation Commission follows the law, it [the application] should be denied,” Scotto added. “It’s just the beginning of the fight, really.”

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