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Copiague residents split on proposed three-story, 11-apartment building

Rendering of the proposed 11-unit apartment complex some

Rendering of the proposed 11-unit apartment complex some Copiague residents say will bring more traffic and strain emergency services in the area. Credit: Harold E. Gebhard/Diana Gomez

A proposed mixed-use building in Copiague has drawn the ire of some residents, who say the area is already too congested, while others say it’s a needed improvement in the hamlet.

Santiago Taveras wants to tear down his building at 400 Oak St., which holds a tax practice and immigration assistance business. He is seeking a zone change from E-Business to Downtown Copiague to build a three-story building, with his office on the first floor and 11 apartments above.

At a town board hearing last month, nearly two dozen people turned out to comment on the proposal, with speakers almost evenly split between those for and those opposed to the project. Taveras’ attorney, Nicole Blanda, told the board that the plan for the 18,500-square-foot site had been modified after residents raised concerns about traffic and density during a planning board hearing. Five of the 11 bedrooms were changed from two bedrooms to one, and the number of parking spots increased to 21, exceeding the 17.64 required spaces.

“We believe this will be an attractive new building for the area,” Blanda said. “And we do believe it carries out the intent of revitalizing the downtown Copiague area.”

Resident Bryan Vasseur said he is concerned about the impact the development will have on an already congested neighborhood.

Since apartments were built last year on nearby Marconi Boulevard, he said, “Getting through downtown Copiague is harder to get through than Fifth Avenue in Manhattan.”

As a result, emergency response times will be lengthened, Vasseur said. “We’re putting residents in jeopardy by continually building all these buildings,” he said.

Resident Zina Seguino said the proposal goes against the intent of the Downtown Copiague zoning, which was created in 2015 to spur mixed-use, transit-oriented development near the train station. Taveras’ property is about a quarter-mile from the station.

“For this project, it’s a mixed use, but it’s only for one person, it’s for their business,” Seguino said. “It doesn’t open up other business opportunities for anybody else in the community.”

Copiague Chamber of Commerce president Sharon Fattoruso spoke in favor of the project, saying the existing building is an eyesore and the property was mostly an “empty lot” for years.

“Do people just want to see empty lots?” she said. “If you have people who live in Copiague and are building these buildings, they are going to take care of them … this is what we’ve been planning for years.”

Public comments on the project will be accepted through Friday.

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