Flower Hill reaches agreement with Nassau County to landmark Elderfields Preserve

Flower Hill reaches agreement with Nassau County to landmark Elderfields Preserve
The Elderfields Preserve is a historic parkland in Flower Hill owned by the county. (Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons, license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/)

The Village of Flower Hill finally came to an agreement with Nassau County on designating the Elderfields Preserve as a village landmark, ending a seven-month-long hearing of the matter prolonged by alternating conversations and negotiations between the two government bodies.

“This has been a lot of back-and-forth with our friends in the county and with the landmark commission and everything else,” Mayor Randall Rosenbaum said, thanking the village’s attorney for his efforts to push this designation along.

The Elderfields Preserve, located in Flower Hill, is a four-acre parkland with a main house that includes the original 17th-century home on the property, one of the oldest structures on Long Island, according to the county Parks Department.

The county acquired the property in 1996 from Henry de V. Williams. The Art Guild of Port Washington currently occupies a space in the building for art studios, classes and shows.

Rosenbaum said the village is seeking to designate it as a landmark because the village wants to preserve the historical sites within its borders.

Village Attorney Jeff Blinkoff said at the Board of Trustees meeting Wednesday night that some changes were made to the final agreement.

The major changes he noted were that the village would no longer have the power of review and approval for a sale or transfer of the property, which was requested by the county; that the county would continue to maintain the property conditions; and would cooperate with the village’s landmark provisions if any destruction happened to the property.

The last change was brought forward after Trustee Mary Jo Collins asked about procedures in the case of a catastrophic event, like a fire, that might destroy aspects of the property and its structures.

Deputy Mayor Frank Genese asked whether reconstruction in events of this kind would have to be historically accurate, which county representative Kevin Walsh confirmed would be done consistent with the current character of the property.

“It doesn’t have to be an exact replica, but it would have to have characteristics of structures of that period,” Genese said.

Blinkoff said language would be added to the agreement to make it clear that the county would have to abide by historical accuracy if reconstruction needed to be done.

The Board of Trustees unanimously approved the landmark agreement with the county, ending months of back-and-forth conversation.

“Thank you everybody for finally putting this to bed,” Rosenbaum said.

The board also adopted an amendment to its noise ordinance Wednesday night, which is intended to make the current code more enforceable and for noise violations to be served.

At the October meeting, Village Administrator Ronnie Shatzkamer said it was noticed that the law had a redundant phrase and needed to be edited. She confirmed the law had been edited and now reads as the board intends.

The board opted to adopt the amended noise ordinance unanimously. As part of the resolution to pass the law, the board also approved its compliance with the state Environmental Quality Review Act.

The board also approved a site plan proposal to demolish and replace the building at 1025 Northern Blvd., which previously was a three-story office building that was destroyed by a fire in February. The plan proposes a new one-story bank to replace the fire-damaged structure.

The existing three-story building has a footprint of about 8,800 square feet, standing at 33 feet tall. The proposed building would be one story with about 4,200 square feet reaching a height of about 21 1/2 feet tall.

The front and rear parking would remain about the same, with a loss of four parking spaces in total, but is proposed to be modified to better traffic flow with the other surrounding businesses.

Michael Rant, president of Northcoast Civil’s civil engineering sector and representing the property owners, said they are working to “reduce the intensity of the site” with this new proposal.

The board expressed support for the new proposal, with Rosenbaum saying that he likes how it is diminishing the use of the space which will help decrease traffic.

“I think this is a great plan,” Rosenbaum said. “I’m very excited.”

The board also approved the Port Washington Fire Department’s 2024 contract with the village.

The contract is proposed to rise by $11,737 for an increase of about 3%. The board estimated this would be an increase of about $18-$20 per home in the Port Washington Fire District.

Rosenbaum said he preferred not to see an increase in the budget as the district recently enacted its cost recovery program, which the mayor said acts as another revenue stream for the department.

In other news, conversations between the board and two residents became tense after the couple requested the village to amend its laws to permit 6-foot tall fences along Northern Boulevard and the mayor opposed it.

The residents currently have a six-foot fence in the rear of their property that existed before they moved in, which they said was cleared by the code enforcer. They are seeking to replace the existing fence due to damages.

Rosenbaum said there are already mechanisms to get the fence approved by going through the Board of Zoning Appeals, which typically grants such requests.

The residents argued that this costs additional money to appeal such a request, making it unfair for the other residents who live along the road. Rosenbaum contended that holding public hearings to amend the law costs additional funding from the taxpayers, which he said would also be unfair.

The board went into executive session to consult with their counsel on how to mitigate the issue.

Blinkoff said during the session the board may consider a local law to change the fence requirements along Northern Boulevard, but that the building inspector would be speaking with the homeowners to determine whether their fence application would or would not be approved to maintain the current fence height which was previously approved by the village.

The Flower Hill Board of Trustees will convene again at 7:30 p.m. on Dec. 4.

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