The East Hills Planning Board has rejected an application to...

The East Hills Planning Board has rejected an application to subdivide the site of this historic home at 2A Melby Lane — once belonging to the Mackay family —  into four lots, as proposed by its current owners. The board has recommended a three-lot subdivision instead. Credit: Reece T. Williams

The East Hills Village Planning Board has rejected an application to subdivide the site of one of its most historic homes into four lots as proposed by its owners, recommending a three-lot subdivision instead to retain the house that once belonged to the Mackay family.

The decision, which was made during a Dec. 16 meeting, came more than three years after Steven and Wendy Shenfeld proposed to subdivide the 2.2-acre property at 2A Melby Lane.

"The planning board determined that an alternative three-lot preliminary subdivision that retains an existing historic stone home (the "Mackay House") and allows for creation of two additional residential house lots, is a reasonable, prudent, and feasible alternative," according to a written decision dated Dec. 18.

The Shenfelds declined to comment.

The two-story house was built in 1929 for John Mackay III, one of East Hills’ first village board trustees. His mother, Katherine Mackay, was the first woman on the Roslyn school board in 1905, according to local preservationists. His grandfather, John Mackay, was an early settler in Roslyn and his father, Clarence Mackay, owned the Harbor Hill estate.

In its decision that Newsday obtained through a FOIL request, the board noted the structure’s architectural significance. The home was designed by John Cross of the renowned Manhattan-based architectural firm Cross & Cross, known for Tiffany’s flagship store on 57th Street, the former RCA Victor Building (and later General Electric Building) at Lexington Avenue and 51st Street and many of the townhouses and apartment buildings on the Upper East Side in the 1920s and 1930s.

"The Mackay House is a neighborhood icon and an example of design of a discreet period and style by a significant architect," the decision read.

The planning board also noted that a three-lot plan would lower development density, cut down on traffic, decrease the duration and impact of construction and likely reduce the number of school-age children.

Local preservationists applauded the board’s decision.

"It’s part of the history of the Village of East Hills," said Howard Kroplick, president of the Roslyn Landmark Society. "And it’s great that it’s being preserved."

The board said that it would "entertain a renewed proposed four-lot subdivision without prejudice" if the village’s Zoning Board of Appeals denies the variances the property owners need for the three-lot plan.

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