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Williston Park residents tell town: No parking should mean no development

Owners of the vacant lot at 615-621 Willis

Owners of the vacant lot at 615-621 Willis Ave. in Williston Park, seen on July 18, 2018, want to build a three-story project having retail on the first floor and apartments on the top floors. Credit: Howard Schnapp

Williston Park residents want village officials to reject a proposed mixed-use development citing concerns it would worsen parking problems in the neighborhoods.

Albertson resident Christopher Lazos and New Hyde Park resident Akbar Bhojani,  who co-own the vacant lot at 615-621 Willis Avenue, want to build two separate, three-story, 3,230-square-foot buildings at the site. In each building, the first floor would contain retail and the top floors would have four apartments, for a total of 16 units. 

Village law requires two parking spaces designated for every rental unit, requiring at least 32 spaces for the Lazos-Bhojani plan. Application documents show nine parking spaces being added as part of the development.

Neighbors' top concern is that those living in the apartments would park on Willis Avenue or nearby side streets, area resident Margaret Delahunty, 37, said in an interview.

"And those streets are already congested," said Delahunty, who lives on Broad Street. "How are we going to accommodate 30-plus more cars?"

Delahunty said she and other residents have circulated a petition to give village officials opposing the mixed-use building and have gathered 325 signatures.

Residents would rather see single-story businesses on the lot, Delahunty said.

The property has been vacant for four years after a fire engulfed the stretch of five businesses on July 24, 2014. A bar, shoe repair store, Laundromat, hair salon and plumbing business were destroyed.

Williston Park's zoning board held a public hearing about the mixed-use development on Monday. During the hearing, Lazos and Bhojani told the zoning board that they want to change their application from one mixed-use building to two buildings. 

Brian Cunningham, zoning board chairman, said Lazos and Bhojani will now submit a new, two-building plan and board members plan to consider the new application in September. 

At the meeting, representatives for Lazos and Bhojani vowed to continue answering residents' concerns

"I want to accommodate my clients and I want to accommodate the community," said Jared Mandel, president of Williston Park-based Jared Mandel Architects and hired by Lazos and Bhojani. "The last thing we want to do is hurt the community."

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