Written by Rich Forestano Friday, 27 August 2010 00:00
The Board of Trustees of Mineola voted to expand the overlay district at its most recent meeting. The expansion gives the village the opportunities under the development incentive bonus law, which would require developers to come before the board for approval as well as provide amenities to the village.
The current overlay district extends from Harrison Avenue as far south to the Mineola Train Station and east to Roslyn Road. It encompasses part of First Street, Second Street, Front Street, Third Street and the station plaza. The new area includes Jackson Avenue, Lincoln Avenue, Clinton Avenue and Searing Avenue. The current and new extension of the district does not include properties east of the Oyster Bay train line.
Approximately five years ago, the village created the overlay district, which is the area around the railroad corridor for the purpose of converting it from commercial and industrial areas to residential components. Contrary to what some residents have had concerns about, it does not relax the zoning restrictions.
According to Village Attorney John Spellman, based upon the recommendations a few years back from professional planners and a community planning committee, the village adopted a development incentive bonus law. This law allows the board of trustees in this instance to vary provisions of the zoning code provided that a developer or a person seeking relief under this section provides public amenities to the village.
Spellman stated that it be known that the underlying zoning remains the same and, “nothing gets rezoned or changed.” The board has had many successful experiences in administering the village’s development incentive bonus law. A new condominium was built near Harrison and Main Street, a house in need of repair has been converted into an attractive professional office near Harrison and Third Street and new parking capacity will be added to the Winthrop University Hospital parking garage on Old Country Road and Fourth Avenue.
The Winston project, which is still in the planning stage, falls under this as well. Some of the amenities promised with the construction of the Winston residential complex include senior housing complex, a partially underground parking garage and various streetscape improvements to the surrounding area.
Each of these projects was evaluated in terms of smart growth principles and against the backdrop of the Mineola Village Master Plan to revitalize the downtown area.
“The experience of the board administering the incentive bonus law has resulted in an evaluation of additional areas of the village for its possible application, with the closing of the Corpus Christi Parochial School, the potential reconfiguration of alternate utilization of buildings owned by the Mineola school district and the assemblage of properties around the parks,” Spellman said. “It is appropriate to consider the benefits of further smart growth planning and how the expansion of the area covered by development incentive bonus law can play in that planning.”
Spellman stated further that the board’s direction in terms of the Mineola school district is hard to clarify at this time with the uncertainties surrounding its properties. He said that the board wants to be prepared and have measures in place, should an application for development comes before the board of trustees.
“Our attitude is to be prepared for that type of eventuality so that we have mechanisms in place to deal with what comes into play for potential development,” he stated. “It gives us the opportunity to bring new folks in, let them lay out a plan, discuss it with them, give them feedback and potentially create something that would be good for the village.”
Properties on the east side of Willis Avenue, north of Second Street and south of Jackson Avenue contain several sites, based on the character of the neighborhood that would be suitable for multi-family housing, according to Spellman. He said that there are numerous opportunities for smart growth initiatives in the area without changing the character of the neighborhood.
Mayor Jack Martins feels that the interest in this particular area comes due to the fact of the changes that are coming and could be coming to that area. He stated that the village is doing its due diligence in this instance.
“The interest in this area comes due to the fact that there will be significant changes coming along this corridor by virtue of the fact that there will be properties available,” he said. “It does not mean that the overlay district or the development bonus law will be used in every instance. Certainly, any applicant has every right to come in and use any zoning permission as of right that they are entitled to without having to come before this board.
“But I believe that area north of the current overlay district is an area that is of importance to the village. Incorporating that area is Little League ball fields as well as the campus for the Corpus Christi school right up to the Willis Ave School and existing buildings along the west side of the Oyster Bay train line. We want to have the ability to be the check and balance so that developers need our approval before taking an interest in the area.”
Martins stated that the area east of the Oyster Bay train line should not be considered for expansion in the new overlay district. He said expanding it to where it is now make sense.
“Anything that is brought out before this board is subject to a hearing and subject to the boards’ consideration and the public’s input as it has been up to this point,” said Martins. “Given the current conditions and potential for those areas to be developed and the need for village input in how those areas are developed to our expectations, expanding it makes sense.”