Willets Rebellion

Part 3 of a series

Walter Sieber of Cameron Engineers and Assoc. presenting the alternate subdivision plan to the Planning Board on Aug 21. (Photo by Marco Schaden)

The residents of Willets Lane are uniquely sandwiched between two proposed subdivisions at 1020 and 1029 Plandome Rd. and have also dealt with construction at the Terraces. The majority of residents on this road oppose both of these proposed projects and their concerns are culminated in a report by Samantha Fox titled “Response to the Proposed Subdivision of 1029 Plandome Rd.”

As stated in part one, Samantha Fox is the daughter of Mitchell Fox, a resident of 11 Willets Lane, and she is also a postdoctoral fellow at the Zolberg Institute of Migration and Mobility at the New School, focusing on urban studies. She recently received her Ph.D. in anthropology from Columbia University, writing her dissertation on urban renewal in former East Germany looking at how city officials and urban planners adhered to strict environmental laws while trying to revitalize the economic and civic lives of the region. Dr. Fox has also worked for the New York State governor’s office as a community engagement coordinator on the Reimagine the Canals project, where she has become familiar with NYS water and environmental regulations.

In her statement to the Plandome Planning Board on Aug 21., she wants the board to consider “A revised traffic study that takes into account the proposed development at 1020 Plandome Rd. and which relies on appropriate, applicable data, as detailed in my report, a revised plan that changes the placement of the proposed road for the reasons detailed in my report, as well as a completed full environment assessment form (EAF) that takes into account Plandome’s uniquely fragile hydrological position, the village’s approved water usage, the property’s containment of wetlands protect under New York State law, and the effects that both the construction process and the presence of new houses will have on Manhasset Bay, which is protected by the state and federal governments. Both potential environmental impacts and environmental regulations that are in danger of being violated are outlined in detail in my report. If, per the SEQRA process, the lead agency makes a positive determination—after reviewing the aforementioned materials they determine that the risks that this project poses are sufficiently minimal to move forward with an environmental impact study—I ask that an appraisal be undertaken to determine the effect that this development would have on neighboring property values, such that the lead agency, be it the Planning Board or Nassau County, can make an informed decision.”

The Nassau County Planning Commission has told the Manhasset Press and notified the village that they would act as an adviser to the lead agency and not take up that role as it falls out of their jurisdiction. The Plandome Planning Board will be the lead agency for the proposed subdivision of 1029 Plandome Rd.

A SEQRA study has been commissioned by the Planning Board and will be handled by village engineer Jim Antonelli’s firm, West Side Engineering. The board originally planned to have Carrie O’Farrell do the SEQRA study, but she has stated a conflict of interest. If residents of Willets Lane feel that the determination of the SEQRA study was improper or unjust, then they can sue the village under Article 78.

A short EAF was submitted by Bruce Bent, owner of 1029 Plandome Rd., but Fox states in her report that it is contradicts two full EAFs submitted previously by previous developer Tim O’Sullivan. Nor Bent or Cameron Engineering and Assoc. have stated whether they will submit a full EAF.

Cameron Engineering and Assoc. have submitted a traffic study that takes into account the 1020 proposed subdivision and it states that the proposed developments would add at a maximum nine vehicles per hour, five cars specially coming from 1029 Plandome Rd.

“The traffic is not going to be five cars. That’s a butt crack of shit,” said Billy Maier of 15 Willets Lane.

The Planning Board commissioned Joe Pecora to review that traffic report and a new traffic report is expected. Residents of Willets Lane want a traffic report that takes into account all of proposed projects in the area, including the potential Macy’s development by Brookfield Properties, and one that does not use standard ITE data, but takes into account the local circumstances.

“One of the things that this traffic study does not address fully is the volume of traffic on Plandome Rd. each day,” said Frank Lupino, a resident of 7 Willets Lane. “Research shows 13,000 vehicles traveled Plandome Road each day in 2015. I am sure the number is higher today in 2019. The traffic study does not seem to acknowledge this. The traffic study does project future traffic patterns along this road or along the proposed road behind our home”

When O’Sullivan had his subdivision application in front of the board in 2015, a letter on water supply to the proposed development by Deputy Village Clerk Elizabeth Kaye states “Currently, the Plandome Water Department is projecting to exceed its authorized capacity after considering the projected water usage associated with this request.”

It’s not known whether the project will exceed the authorized capacity of projected water usage. The current contract with the Manhasset-Lakeville Water District expires this December. The current application has a road starting at the southeast end of the property, ending in a 96-foot diameter cul-de-sac.

“We are considering it a private roadway or a shared driveway to access the five lots,” Walter Sieber of Cameron Engineering said. “[Bent] really wanted to preserve the existing allay of trees and the driveway on the property. The cul-de-sac was a function of site safety and conforming with the building codes for emergency vehicle turnaround.”

Lupino disagrees.

“If you approve this plan, the developer will probably be back in a year’s time asking you to extend the width of the road and the cut down the trees lining the road,” said Lupino.

Residents of Willets Lane are concerned that the road will cause a double front-yard situation and lower their property value. They believe a road going down the middle of the property would be acceptable.

“If you put it in the middle of the houses on either side it is just not feasible,” O’Sullivan said. “They’re so long, wide and shallow that no one would buy them. You would be walking in your front door and out your back door at the same time, basically.”

“They omitted the critical information that Samantha’s report included and until that information was presented, not only was this project going forward with minor revisions, no one was even asking them to move up to the high standards that New York State, North Hempstead and even Plandome itself and its own village code demanded,” said Mitchell Fox, who has been spearheading the opposition of the project. “The bottom line here is that there are myriad complexities involved with a multi-home sub-division that demands a high level of sophistication and experience to accurately assess it’s impact on traffic, the environment, impact on groundwater and especially traffic. Further, because the property also abuts Manhasset Bay, which has been designated a federal marine protected area—a significant coastal fish and wildlife habitat by the EPA—subjecting it to special scrutiny by these agencies. That’s why a full EAF has to be filed—one that does not conflict with the short form—or previous forms submitted by Tim O’Sullivan. Until such time as it is filed, no further consideration for this proposal should be given as per the SEQRA process.”


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