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Roslyn trustees pass law to pave way for boosting transit-oriented development

Roslyn Village officials have approved a law that

Roslyn Village officials have approved a law that paves the way for a proposed new apartment building with ground-floor retail on Warner Avenue, near the Long Island Rail Road station. Credit: Newsday / Alejandra Villa Loarca

Roslyn Village officials approved a new law Tuesday to encourage transit-oriented development near the Long Island Rail Road station, paving the way for a proposed new apartment building with ground-floor retail on Warner Avenue.

The zoning change allows the village to create a district that permits a 40-foot-tall building with density capped at 30 units per acre. With incentive bonuses, however, the number of maximum units could be doubled to 60.

For months, the proposed law had faced pushback from residents in Roslyn Heights, the hamlet that borders the site, and the Roslyn School District, whose officials raised concerns of a residential development’s impact on the schools.

"We, too, believe in redevelopment. We, too, believe in responsible growth," said Meryl Waxman Ben-Levy, president of the board of education, during a remote meeting Tuesday, asking the board to respond to the issues raised by the community before making a decision.

Ben-Levy’s views were echoed by several Roslyn Heights residents, who emphasized that they are not against development but want to see "reasonable development," calling on the board to reduce maximum density to 15 units per acre.

"I do want to reiterate that the size and scale are not consistent with the surrounding architecture," said Nancy Shores, who noted she’s worried about traffic exacerbation and pedestrian safety on the narrow roads there.

A meeting attendee asked the village board to eliminate incentive bonuses.

"We implore the village to set reasonable limits to development at this site," said Bill Costigan. "... Please do not allow any waivers under development, density and parking limitations."

A few attendees also questioned whether the new zone would be expanded to neighboring properties, to which trustee Sarah Oral said the change was directed to affect two properties alone — the nearly 1-acre lot on 281-301 Warner Avenue and a Verizon site next to it.

"We are not looking to expand this zone at any time," Oral said. "Our intent is to have the two properties adjacent to the train station have the ability to present to us transit-oriented developments there."

In a June letter addressed to the board, Verizon said the company had no objection to the zoning change and would continue to use the site as a telephone exchange.

The other property, a structure owned by Roslyn-based JK Equities since July 2018, sits across the parking lot of the train station. By early 2020, the one-story commercial building with multiple storefronts was completely vacant, according to Jerry Karlik, who founded JK Equities with his son, Jordan.

In a follow-up interview, Karlik said the company will within 30 days present a plan to the board that fits within the parameters of the adopted rules.

Karlik declined to give specifics but said the new building would have retail on the ground floor and residential apartments on the upper floors.

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