Residents express concern over variance request for owners of Centennial Hall

Residents express concern over variance request for owners of Centennial Hall
Floral Park sold Centennial Hall to real estate developers planning to create apartments. (Photo courtesy of The Island 360 archives)

During a two-and-a-half board of trustees meeting,  more than 20 Floral Park residents voiced their concern over a zoning board hearing last Wednesday on several variances sought by the owner of Centennial Hall. 

The residents’ concerns included 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 kids 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. 

In the May 1 hearing, the Centennial HoldingsLLC, which owns 1 Carnation Avenue, or Centennial Hall, proposed a new apartment building with 27 apartments requiring 54 total parking spaces and raising the height of the building to 47’-1”.

The zoning board has not made a decision as of Wednesday morning. 

The village purchased Centennial Hall, built in 1925, in 2005 for $1.5 million with a $2 million bond to attempt to revitalize the space. After determining it was unfit for governmental use, the village began a bidding process to find developers.

The Friedman Group purchased Centennial Hall from the village in July 2018 for $1.2 million as part of a contract that would preserve the facade of the former Masonic temple and restrict it strictly to residential uses for 30 years.

The contract at the time planned to build 18 one and two-bedroom apartment units in the 8,500 square foot building and a triangular private park for building residents at the corner of Carnation and Tulip avenues.

Also part of the contract, Centennial Hall will maintain its facade, the recognizable Greek Revival style four-column front to the building.

Prior to the signing of the contract with The Friedman Group, other plans for the building include a mixed-use medical office and residential space and office space. At one time Centennial Hall was also used by the Floral Park Historical Society.

The 24-space parking lot next to the building currently has one entrance on Carnation Avenue and is inaccessible from Tulip, but may change based on traffic concerns, Gunther, the board and Friedman previously considered.

Many of the residents that filled the village’s courtroom came with help of Robert Moran, who left flyers 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., was the first person to speak and during his 20-minute time in front of the board shared his concerns with 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. determined the proposed development “would not result in a significant impact to the roadway network.” 

The assessment also looks 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, which Moran thought 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. “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.”

An original rendering of the proposed development of Centennial Hall for 18 units. This rendering is of the development prior to applying to variances for 27 total units. (Photo courtesy of the Village of Floral Park)

Village Mayor Kevin Fitzgerald said the zoning board, comprised 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.

Fitzgerald also said to repeated requests that the trustees cannot sway the board’s decision or request a re-hearing, but that the public can voice their opinion in the event the variances are approved at the following architectural review board meeting. 

Throughout the rest of the public comment, many residents went up and spoke on their personal experiences with surrounding traffic, detailing how in the current week alone they’ve seen speeding, fast turns, and cars crossing double-yellow lines to bypass slow-moving traffic. 

Fitzgerald said the board of trustees will look into each of the safety concerns around the surrounding area of the development that were mentioned and that if approved by the zoning board, residents can still go to the review board and voice their concerns. 

The next meeting for the Floral Park Board of Trustees will take place Tuesday, June 7. The next architectural review board meeting will take place Wednesday, June 22. 

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  1. Please verify if the rendering is for the currently proposed 27 unit building. I believe this is from the original 18 unit proposal

  2. It’s for 27 units. Look at the meeting on YouTube
    May 27,2022 Village of Floral Park …
    Unless the 27 units is a done deal already.
    God Bless
    Thanks Mr. Duffy !


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