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BZA approves disputed variance application for developer Dejana's mixed-use project

Residents have complained for months about requests to exceed building height and scale back on parking for the project planned to house younger people and empty-nesters.

A rendering of developer Peter Dejana's plans to

A rendering of developer Peter Dejana's plans to construct a 25,770-square-foot building at 22 Sagamore Hill Dr. The mixed-use project project calls for 16 two-bedroom apartments and 1,300 square feet of retail space. Photo Credit: Avrutine & Associates PLLC

A proposed mixed-use development planned for Manhasset Isle cleared a major hurdle Tuesday when Manorhaven's zoning board voted 3-2 to accept developer Peter Dejana's variance application. 

The approval means that Dejana can erect a three-story building instead of the village’s mandated two stories and that the building can have 33 parking spaces instead of 83, which the village would normally require given the size of Dejana's proposed building.

Patrick Gibson, the zoning board's chairman, could not be reached for comment Wednesday. Zoning board member Jerry Volpe referred questions to village clerk Sharon Abramski, who did not return calls. 

The village has collected more than 160 pages of public comments about the building since plans for the project were unveiled in September. Some residents, including the village’s former deputy mayor, oppose the building, saying its presence will alter Manorhaven's skyline, overcrowd the village and leave residents with fewer places to park.

“I just don’t think this is good for Manhasset Isle,” said Port Washington resident Gina Vulcano. “It’ll be too much traffic and we’ll be overpopulated.”

Caroline DuBois, also of Port Washington, said the approval of a three-story building could mean other vacant lots in the village might follow suit and be filled with three- or four-story buildings.

“It’s unethical for these developers to change the character of the village through huge zoning variances,” DuBois said. “Property owners have their right to build according to the current zoning, but they don’t have the right to harm their neighbors.”

Dejana plans to construct a 25,770-square-foot building at 22 Sagamore Hill Dr. The project calls for 16 two-bedroom apartments and 1,300 square feet of retail space.

Dejana runs the Peter and Jeri Dejana Foundation, a nonprofit that awards grants to local and regional organizations. Jim Avena, Manorhaven’s mayor, is the foundation’s grants administrator.

Dejana said in December that he has listened to residents’ criticisms and made adjustments to his plan where possible.

“The community was concerned about height issues, and we reduced the height and the number of units, thereby reducing the number of cars coming to the apartments,” he said.

Dejana said he ultimately wants to build this property, in part, because “the days of new families needing single-family homes in our suburban communities are waning.”

“Our young people are waiting longer to get married and buy a home,” he added. “Many of our young folks cannot afford to live in the single-family home that their parents bought. So whether we like it or not, the housing needs for our community are changing.”

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