The Village of Plandome Manor’s Board of Trustees announced unanimous support for a proposition that would permit the board to acquire a 300-year-old home and turn it into the new village hall.
The trustees expressed their support in a press release Monday, less than a week after they voted 4-0 to hold a vote by the public on the proposition on April 6. Trustee Tony DeSousa was absent from the vote last week but expressed his support for the proposition in the press release.
The building, known as the Richardson House, currently sits at 149 Circle Drive. If the proposition passes, the village would plan on moving the house roughly 1,000 feet down the road to a vacant village-owned parcel north of Stonytown Road, officials said.
Village Mayor Barbara Donno said the proposition “is an extraordinary opportunity for the village to own its Village Hall” and that the village would purchase the building for one dollar so it could issue a bond to finance the estimated $660,000 project. Donno said the bond would not exceed $600,000 and the remaining costs would be obtained through a variety of grants and funds from the village’s capital reserve fund.
The village pays $55,000 a year to rent the current Village Hall, a multipurpose room located at 55 Manhasset Ave.
“From a financial perspective, approving the proposition makes sense,” Deputy Mayor Matthew Clinton said. “Plandome Manor would own outright the building and the land on which its Village Hall sits in 10 years while no longer paying rent for office space.”
“Preservation Long Island has recognized the historic significance of the Richardson House and publicly asked Plandome Manor to save the building from demolition when it was sold to a developer last year,” Trustee Patricia O’Neill said. “The village then consulted with land use and architectural experts before bringing this proposal to the voters.”
The house was built in 1730 in Massachusetts. In 1923, 10 years before Plandome Manor was incorporated, resident George Richardson had the house dismantled, moved to its present site and rebuilt. The house is approximately 2,700 square feet and has an attached garage.
According to the real estate website Trulia.com, the Richardson House was sold on Dec. 20, 2021, for $1.3 million after being on the market for more than two years. The buyer is a developer who has filed for a demolition permit and a building permit for a new house.
Some village residents have opposed the project and the proposition at previous meetings, with some claiming the board rushed the process and adequate studies addressing environmental impact and drainage have not been conducted.
Nancy Solomon, executive director of Long Island Traditions, a Port Washington-based preservation group, urged that the house, one of the oldest on Long Island, be saved from demolition and told the board that state funds are available for historic restoration during a February public meeting.
A village resident who lives across the street from the proposed site took exception to the suggestion. “Why do we, Plandome Manor taxpayers, have to do this?” she asked.
“Why is it our responsibility to preserve [the house] when the previous owner sold it knowing it would be demolished?”
Another resident said: “We do feel we are being railroaded and not listened to. This came on so quickly. It really feels done-dealish.”
Donno said the board discussed the plan for the first time with the residents at the January board meeting, which was conducted online.
Donno said the issue for the village board is not saving the house, but finding a new village hall. “As for the Village Hall, we have outgrown it,’ she said. “The lease is up. We need a bigger space. [The house] fell into everyone’s lap.”
Linda S. Agnew, an attorney representing homeowners on Circle Drive, said the board is “railroading” the process through the proposition. Despite residents’ claims, officials said the project will be beneficial for the entire village and that the Village Hall upgrade is much needed.
“The Village has outgrown its present office space, which is located outside of the village,” DeSousa said. “The proposition’s approval will allow Plandome Manor to conduct its business in a building which can accommodate our staff and records while also being situated within the village’s boundaries.”
Trustee James Baydar said a traffic study was conducted for the project and estimated that the village hall would not generate “more than 11 vehicle trips each weekday.” In comparison, he said, “a typical single-family home has about 9.5 vehicle trips daily.”
Officials said the vote on the proposition will take place from noon to 9 p.m. at Village Hall on April 6.