More apartments for Macy estate site
ISLIP TOWN—At the Islip Town Planning Board meeting last Thursday night, the board held a public hearing regarding a proposed application to modify a previously approved application to construct 28 senior (age 55 and over) apartments (instead of 26) on the site of the historic former Macy estate on the west side of Islip Avenue (Route 111) north of Montauk Highway. The application was met with concerns by some local residents and ultimately approved by a narrow margin of 4-3.
The Macy mansion is a 1913 brick Georgian-style structure that had once been part of the estate belonging to a local political kingpin, W. Kingsland Macy (dubbed the “Little King of Suffolk County”). The palatial, columned frontage now faces the Oconee East Diner on Main Street, which was built there after the estate was sold and subsequently subdivided in the 1950s.
In addition to the existing mansion, three new buildings (amounting to a total of 20 independent units) are currently being constructed on the 2.3-acre property. The revised application calls for 49 parking stalls—three more than before.
Paul Aniboli, a partner with the applicant, said that they decided to increase the number of the apartments in the existing mansion from six to eight (four one-bedroom and four two-bedroom) after further investigating the space in the wake of the prior application’s approval.
“At the time of the approval, we were operating under the old certificate of occupancy that said the mansion had six legal apartments in it,” said Aniboli. “Everyone thought there were more, but exactly how many were laid out was kind of a mystery. When we got in, we started ripping down walls… and we came out with a layout plan that we thought made the most sense.”
Aniboli clarified that nothing other than the number of apartments has physically changed in the new application.
“It’s all exactly the same,” said Aniboli. “The only thing we are asking for is to modify the covenant that restricts the overall number to 28.”
“Frankly, we should have anticipated this to begin with, but we didn’t,” he added. “I’m sure that had we asked for this at the time it wouldn’t be a problem, but instead, we’re here tonight.”
In addition to the unit number increase, the application triggered concerns by local residents regarding increased traffic on an already busy road, the size and scope of the buildings, and parking issues.
“We have always been concerned that developing these multi-story buildings that don’t really fit in with the elevation of [surrounding] houses would change the character of our neighborhood,” said Richard O’Boyle, who lives adjacent to the property on Amuxen Court. “The traffic would increase on the already congested narrow streets in our neighborhood…[while] the development as proposed and as approved would add substantially more blacktop and less green space.
“Asking for permission tonight to increase the number of apartments would only increase our number of concerns,” continued O’Boyle. “This development of this property has been more than enough, and to ask for additional units would really be above and beyond [its scope]. The members of the community really did not unanimously approve or feel comfortable with this.”
Resident Tom Kalimski, who lives on Sutton Place, voiced concerns about parking.
“There are many 56-year-olds who still go to work and have adult children living with them,” said Kalimski. “Forty-nine parking spaces for 28 units are not enough.”
During the staff report, Planning Commissioner Rich Zapolski recommended that the board approve the item.
“The site is currently under construction, and there would be no changes to the site layout except parking spaces,” said Zapolski. “The Planning Department recommends modifying the covenant to a maximum of 28 units and land banking three additional stalls.”
However, some members of the board questioned the applicant’s methods and motives regarding the new application.
“When you were designing this, the designer had to be in that building before everything was gutted out,” said Donald Fiore. “You don’t just decide how many apartments you’re going to build prior to the gutting of the building.”
“When you make an application for a change of zone, it’s a conceptual plan,” responded Aniboli. “You don’t do a layout of rooms inside a building you haven’t even worked on yet.”
Fiore continued to press the issue.
“But the footprint was the footprint,” said Fiore. “The existing walls were the existing walls, and inside those walls there are only so many square feet.”
“It’s really not that simple with all due respect,” answered Aniboli. “There are 120-year-old fireplaces in almost every room that had to be worked around. The structure requirements 120 years ago were nothing like they are today.”
“I understand what you’re saying, but you came up with a plan of 26 apartments, and I believe it was sold at 26 apartments,” said Fiore, whose questions were applauded by residents in attendance.
The application ultimately passed by a vote of 4-3, with Fiore, Anthony Muscimeci and Michael Kennedy voting no.
In other business, the board reserved decision on an application for a special permit to construct a car wash on the north side of Sunrise Highway, approximately 360 feet west of Atlantic Avenue in Bay Shore. The board also reserved decision on a proposal for two special permits for a mixed-use building with a 1500-square-foot restaurant at 52 Main Street (approximately 220 feet east of Shore Lane) in Bay Shore.
The next Islip Town Planning Board Meeting will take place on Thursday, Oct. 22 at 6:30 p.m.
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