Floral Park OKs variance request for 24 rental apts.

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Floral Park OKs variance request for 24 rental apts.
Floral Park sold Centennial Hall to real estate developers planning to create apartments. (Photo courtesy of The Island 360 archives)

The Floral Park Zoning Board of Appeals granted a variance request by Centennial Holdings, LLC, owner of the former Centennial Hall on 1 Carnation Ave., to construct 24 rental apartment units.

The decision eliminates three studio apartments of 503 square feet each from Centennial Holdings’ original variance request of 27 units and marks an increase from 18 one- and two-bedroom apartment units originally agreed upon in 2018 when the village sold Centennial Hall to The Friedman Group for $1.2 million. 

Along with eliminating three units, six parking spaces have been removed from the original request of 54, now making it 48, two for each unit. 

The variance request was the center of a tense Board of Trustees meeting in May where residents were critical of the legal notice process, hearing process and how dangerous the surrounding roads of Centennial Hall are. 

Jaclyn O’Donohue, a trustee for the Floral Park-Bellerose Union Free School District, said the district is already struggling to expand to accommodate the children they have right now and a total of 27 units of potential families would exacerbate the problem.

“To add more units would actually be a very large burden on our district,” O’Donohue said. “It seems we have a lot of space because we recently added new extensions, but just for next year alone we have to add even more to our buildings. I understand these apartments are not meant for families, but it’s inevitable families with children will use them and 27 units is a very big deal.” 

The zoning board said “there will be no undesirable change to the character of this area of the village” and “the variances will not be detrimental to nearby property owners.”

Now approved, the variances will go before the architectural review board for a hearing, where a site plan review will be conducted, including determining the entrance and exit for the property and other considerations.

At a May 1 hearing, Centennial Holdings proposed a new apartment building with 27 units requiring 54 total parking spaces and raising the height of the building to 47-feet-one inch.

The Friedman Group purchased Centennial Hall, the 20,921-square-foot area that sits on the southeastern intersection of Tulip and Carnation Avenues, from the village in July 2018 for $1.2 million. The purchase was part of a contract that would preserve the facade of the former Masonic temple and restrict it to residential uses only for 30 years.

The contract at the time called for 18 units in the 8,500-square-foot building and a triangular private park for building residents at the corner of Carnation and Tulip avenues. As part of the contract, Centennial Hall will maintain its facade, the recognizable Greek Revival style four-column front of the building.

Many of the residents who filled the village’s courtroom in May came at the urging of Robert Moran, who left fliers under the doorsteps of the neighboring apartment buildings.

According to New York state law, every building within 200 feet of a specific property needs to be made aware of a public hearing taking place. Within that, only the property owners need to be made aware, not each unit within a property.

It is unclear at this time if residents in surrounding apartments were made aware of the public hearing, but the legal process for providing notice was followed, the village said. 

Moran, who lives at 5 Adelaide St., shared his concerns about traffic and what he thought were some discrepancies with the traffic report that was provided ahead of the hearing. 

In a parking and traffic assessment given to the village on May 6, VHB Engineering, Surveying, Landscape Architecture and Geology P.C. concluded the proposed development “would not result in a significant impact to the roadway network.” 

The assessment also looked at area traffic volumes, which tallies the average number of cars on a certain road in a day, by evaluating NYSDOT data from August 2018 and August 2019 for a section of Tulip Avenue, not Carnation.  Moran thought the elimination of Carnation skewed the results and did not take into account what he called serious rush-hour traffic “10 out of 12 months of the year.” 

“I trust our zoning board, but I don’t trust this LLC,” Moran said in May. “I hope our board looks at this document and knows what they’re doing because there are only two reasons this traffic report with glaring holes would be submitted. Because they’re negligent or fraudulent.”

Village Mayor Kevin Fitzgerald said at the meeting the zoning board, composed of Christopher Downes, Kevin Flood, Dennis McEnery, Gary Parisi and Indra Sanichar, is an independent entity and he trusts them to do their due diligence on every application.

Because the area is adjacent to a county road, the Nassau County Planning Commission reviewed the request as well before recommending the reduction in three units and issuing a resolution allowing the village’s zoning board to make a determination. 

Residents can attend the architectural review board meetings, which will be held Wednesdays July 27, Aug. 24 and Sept. 28. It is unclear what month the variances will appear on the agenda.

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